“Living one’s truth” or “speaking one’s truth” has become a little bit of a cliche in personal development and/or spiritual circles. It’s often mis-used as a justification for selfishness and reckless confrontation; but that is not at all the proper understanding of this beautiful concept.
Really living your truth is about getting still enough, and courageous enough, to admit to yourself what you want, and what you don’t want. It’s tuning in to the pit-of-your-stomach feelings, and figuring stuff out from there. It is about standing in your integrity, and following your internal guidance, especially when it goes against social norms, or the mores of your specific community. This is terrifying. It just is. It’s not about being rebellious, for its own sake. Rather, it’s the moment when you realize that you don’t fit in with “normal,” and no longer want to fake it. It’s when you can’t bear to pretend for a moment longer. It’s the moment when you actually have to honestly and directly say “no” to someone (when they’ve asked you to do something you don’t want to do), knowing that your no will hurt them deeply. It’s the earth shattering moment when your integrity pulls you onto a path that is considered crazy by everyone you know. It can turn your stomach with anxiety and shame to acknowledge what you really really want, and to make a commitment to go after that specific thing. But that’s what living your truth, speaking your truth, and being impeccable with your word means. Authenticity. The real you, warts and all. My friend Will published a new post about this sort of truth telling (in the dating arena) earlier today. (I loved it. You will too).
It takes courage, real courage, to live/speak your truth. Courage isn’t about jumping out of airplanes or diving with sharks. It’s not about physical activities that get the adrenaline pumping. Real courage happens in very quiet and subtle moments. In those intimate, vulnerable exchanges when you’re afraid to speak the truth. When you’re afraid to honor your own feelings. When you’re afraid that if you say or do what your heart is asking of you, that you will be dismissed, shamed, ridiculed, or rejected. Or that the truth of your feelings will hurt the feelings of another. Or that saying “no,” will make someone not like you anymore. (This last one sounds like school-yard stuff, but believe me, it’s everywhere!)
In my work with people, I’ve come to learn that it isn’t death that scares people most – it’s being rejected, unloved, and left all alone; that is the biggest fear. If you investigate any fear, at its core you will find that – “I will lose people’s love and admiration. I will lose their respect. I will lose my social standing. I will lose my reputation. No one will want to be my friend. No one will love me. My family will reject me. My wife/husband will leave me…” This is what’s at the core of everything. But your truth doesn’t care. Your truth asks you to stand up, look this fear in the face, learn to be really comfortable and happy being alone, and do what your heart is telling you to do anyway. There is nothing scarier or more empowering than that.
Over the last few years (and especially throughout the last six months) I’ve had some deeply mystical, sacred, and highly unusual experiences. I was more than certain that if I shared the details of those experiences (even very privately, selectively, and discretely) I would be ridiculed (at best), or referred to a psychiatrist (at worst). But none of those things happened. The wonderfully loving people that I’m blessed to have in my life accepted those truths without so much as batting an eyelash. (There were those, of course, who weren’t so accepting, and we’ve now amicably gone our separate ways; and that’s a really good thing!). This is what actually happens when you share your scary truths – you aren’t going to be rejected in the ways you worry about. You will instead filter out the people who love and accept the real you, from those that only conditionally accept you (if you fit in to the image of who they want you to be). If you are brave enough to be the real you, you will find lots of love and companionship from others who are just like you. I hope you find the courage to try it. Being the real you (whatever that means), out in the open, is a delicious experience! 🙂