One of the key points of becoming more aware of yourself, your life, your thoughts, and your actions – or, as I call it, opening your third eye – is to learn to be true to yourself and others.
The problem is: people just aren’t used to dealing in truth.
And that’s not even their fault. Society dictates that if you don’t agree with someone, it’s polite to keep your mouth shut. If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all is a fine and effective mantra – but it’s often taken not as direction to avoid needlessly insulting people, but as a command to quiet your criticisms and keep your thoughts to yourself.
At that extreme, it’s certainly one way of floating through the ocean of life without causing any ripples or splashes.
But man… what a dull life that would be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you go out and act like a self-righteous ass to everyone you meet. What I am suggesting, however, is that you be more truthful in your life – especially when you’re invited to share your opinion.
This can be as simple as telling your lover or best friend your true feelings when they ask if you like their new haircut. Yes – I can see you wincing already, but let me explain why being truthful is important even when it’s scary…
It’s about control, and keeping as much of it as you can. You are not going to be able to control all external factors on your life – run away (fast) from anyone who says they can give you that power – but you can control how you interact with, and react to, the things and people around you.
Tell the truth when you have the chance to, and you give your soul and spirit the opportunity to meaningfully express themselves.
Let me explain. When we don’t (or do) like something, we tell ourselves so, and we genuinely feel it – because when something is meaningful to us, the internal response isn’t filtered. If we, say, agree with an opinion that we really think is rubbish, we go against that internal message. It is an act of self-suppression – not to mention deception.
Usually, we do this so we can maintain civility in unknown, or potentially incendiary, situations – such as meeting a new person and trying to get a feel for them. That’s perfectly normal, because who wants to end up accidentally starting a fight over opinions with someone who barely knows you, your values or wider principles (with the same being true of your knowledge of the other person)?
But problems arise when you stick to this behaviour across a longer course. If you lie, or deny speaking your true thoughts so as to remain agreeable with everyone you meet, then you will actually attract people who hold values with which you disagree. This is a very quick way to surround yourself with people who bring you down – because you end up feeling like you always have to keep your mouth shut.
Here’s an example:
You’re in a meeting about patient-doctor relationships. Your line manager thinks you should be giving out satisfaction surveys for patients to complete before they get discharged. That way, he says, the practice can analyse which doctors have a better relationship and satisfaction rating over time. He asks you what you think.
Truth is you think it’s a worthless idea. You imagine the negative feelings between doctors that such a policy could cause. You frown over the extra paperwork, and believe patient satisfaction would be improved by having more consultation time – not by needless surveys. So how are you going to respond?
If you tell the truth, your boss might get in a huff with you. Depending on how vindictive they are, your next review might show up with some marked ‘areas for improvement’. But if you lie and say you like the idea, then you’ll be endorsing something you believe is wrong.
That’s not to mention that if you agree, in front of colleagues who most likely share your disbelief in the suggested initiative, your relationship with co-workers could be affected. What if your manager rushed this through and everyone else blamed you for not helping shoot it down?
What this boils down to is that each time we’re asked a question, there’s a choice – a fork that appears in the road ahead. I suggest you take the path of truth. No matter the consequences. You may not be able to control external consequences, but you can certainly control whether or not you leave yourself feeling internally suppressed.
The important thing is to be truthful and honest, with the world and with yourself.
People often say honesty is the best policy, and it’s true – not just because your reputation can be ruined when lies come to light, but because speaking the truth as you see it is a freeing act that avoids internal conflict.
You might, at this point, be wondering what the title of this article has to do with telling the truth. Here it is: when you let the world consistently see the ‘real’ you, some people aren’t going to like it. But I guarantee you’ll feel happier associating more often with people who know and like the ‘real’ you, than you will by lying to placate everybody you meet. It’s perfectly fine not to like – or be liked – by everyone. Don’t be afraid of it.
What matters is that you like yourself. And you can’t do that if you deny your own knowledge, values, and opinions at every turn.
Speak up, speak true, be willing to accept correction and criticism, and you’ll always stand safe in the knowledge that – to the best of your ability – you have acted with integrity. That’s a much more fulfilling existence than the alternative, wouldn’t you agree?