In my last post, The Quest for Truth, I extended a rather bold invitation for people to embark on their own quests for truth. I wrote it to share a portion of my own journey and for those who were ready or had already begun.
Today’s post is the first in a series that I hope serves to help give us a glimpse of truth from a different angle. The burden of our own truths that we carry and its impact on those around us. We will also look at the dilemma of vulnerability in our decisions to disclose to one another. The wisdom and discernment we learn over time in the midst of our disclosures. And finally, I hope to reveal the idea that our interactions with one another are, by their very nature, a necessary alchemy that lies at the heart of transformation.
Not too long ago a Twitter friend of mine, Mike Lehr, asked me to define truth in one of our comment exchanges following a blog post he wrote on the difference between leadership and management. I found this to be an excellent question for us to consider because it seems that on the surface, many of us take for granted that we know what it really means. Most of us have this concrete sense that yes, the truth is the opposite of a lie. The sky is blue. (or is it?) 2+2=4. Yet, how many of us really know the difference between a truth and a lie?
Do YOU know the difference between a truth and a lie?
Pink Floyd so eloquently offers the same questions to us in the beginning of one of their most famous songs (and a personal favorite of mine), Wish You Were Here.
‘So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue sky’s from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?’
- Is truth always black and white?
- Can we fit truth into tidy, convenient boxes with clearly marked labels 100% of the time?
- How do we sift out the truth from the information we are taught and told to accept without evidence or verification?
We tend to simply take some truths at face value. As an automatic given that something is true without question, as I’ve already touched on in my last post.
So before I engage in broaching the subject of truth as a burden, it may be helpful to distinguish the kinds of truth I’m not referring to in this context. I‘m not referring to what people describe as ‘absolute truth’, nor any beliefs surrounding religion, traditions, cultural, family, and otherwise patriotic beliefs derived from whatever country and family you happen to have been born and raised in. I’m referring to the truth of our individual experiences, which are highly subjective and riddled with many ‘assumptions’. However, they are still our PERSONAL ‘truth’.
I’m focusing on the basic truths of our own experiences and how they impact our own lives and those around us. Although it is true that our perspectives can be skewed and are not always accurate, what we experience in real time in the way of sensory input, thoughts, and feelings are very much our truth in the moment. Although many of us know and understand that perception is not necessarily truth, our perceptions still have an impact on our lives and those around us. Personally and professionally.
For example, in order to succeed in business, the perception of the customer means everything. If the customers aren’t happy with your products or services, their perception of your company can result in losing their business, especially if you are in denial. So whether we like it or not, perception cannot be easily ignored for very long. We must learn how to navigate the perceptions of ourselves and others if we wish to bridge the chasm in order to collaborate and serve one another.
So how does truth begin to feel like a burden?
Perhaps on the surface, it doesn’t make much sense that truth would be a burden. We’ve been told that truth is the light. It is love. It is good. It sets us free. Well, if this were true:
- Why are so many of us afraid to share our truths with one another?
- Why have so many of us spent most if not all of our lives having to hide it?
- Who or what taught us to be afraid to reveal who we really are with the ability to honestly express our personal thoughts, feelings, and perspectives?
- Who or what taught us that what we thought and felt was a problem or not important?
Based on personal experience, I would have to say that truth becomes a burden the moment we have to hide what we really think and feel from the people that matter most to us. Or from those we may have to spend a great deal of time working with. The truth becomes a burden in the moment that we are forced to hide a genuine part of ourselves because it is considered to be a problem or not acceptable to someone else.
Now in this context, I’m not referring to harmful ‘truths’ that are unleashing violence and abuse on others. However, I am in part, referring to the truth of being on the receiving end of various types of abuse and the problem with not being able to express the truth of our experiences to anyone; due to fear for our own lives, survival reasons, we may not know where to get help or who to tell. This plays a huge role as to why truth can become such a burden in our own lives and in those around us.
For now, I hope this serves as a bit of a primer that will help us be able to explore our own truths with a little more depth. I also want to emphasize that this topic is only meant to serve as an exploration that has the potential to raise our consciousness. It is not meant to be viewed through the lens of personal judgment or condemnation. However, if those feelings happen to crop up, I would advise taking on the role of an observer. Try to simply notice what you are experiencing rather then judging yourself as right, wrong, good, or bad for what you might experience.
In the next post, we will take a look at the dilemma surrounding vulnerability and disclosure. Until then, I invite you to spend some time exploring what truth means to you in the following questions.
1. How do you personally define truth?
2. How attuned are you with the truth of your own body experiences in the present moment? (tension, aches, cramps, pain spots, etc) Are you tuned in to what your body is experiencing right now? Your emotional feelings? Thoughts?
3. When did you first learn it wasn’t safe to tell the truth about what you think and/or feel? How did you learn to cope? How does this impact you today, personally and professionally?
4. What personal truths feel like a burden for you to carry? Why?
5. Do you have people in your life that you can share your burdens of truth with? If so, what has set these people apart from others?
6. How do you handle it when others share their truths or perspectives with you? At home? At work? In the community? What have been your challenges with this?
7. What fears are most commonly triggered within you when someone shares their truth or perspective? Are you afraid that you won’t know how to handle it? Are you afraid that they want something from you that you aren’t able or willing to give?
8. What can you do to become more aware of your own truth in the present moment? What can you do to periodically check in with yourself?
9. What do you tend to do to escape from dealing with your own truths or that of others? i.e. escape into various addictions, workaholism, exercise, etc.
10. What is the biggest burden of truth in your life right now and what are you going to do about it? What is the payoff for not doing anything about it? What is the worst thing that could happen?
Additional Related Resources:
Heaven From Hell by Nic Askew
The Truth About Authenticity by Mike Lehr
Why My ‘5 Around’ Group Is Important to Me and Why You Should Start One by Jesse Lyn Stoner