Note: This is a guest essay by Denise Barry
When I was a little girl, my parents taught me to always tell the truth. ”The truth will set you free,” they said.
Well, no one ever mentioned that the truth can have many faces.
Depending on your personal interpretation, the truth can set you free – or, it can cause you and others a lot of pain.
Truth has many faces!
Like George Washington, if I were asked who cut down the cherry tree and it was me who did it, I would admit to that.
Or, if I’ve already told a lie, like the person who made up this well-intentioned myth, I would admit to having told a lie.Lies are hard to maintain and therefore stressful, so this is a kind of truth that can set us free. Also, no one likes to be lied to, so the truth can set them free, as well.
Truth can mean stating the obvious.
After I had gained twenty pounds one year, a friend I hadn’t seen in a while saw me.
When she saw my stunned expression she said, “Well, it’s true, you did!”
This interpretation of truth can cause pain. Filtering our words (and our thoughts) is a responsibility we have to each other as human beings. Apologizing for our thoughtlessness, instead of defending it, can instantly diffuse hurt feelings.
With social media we get to know what people are thinking. This can be entertaining, but sometimes it can feel like you’re an unwilling witness in an ambush.
I recently saw a posting where the person asked, “Why would someone throw a birthday party on football Sunday? Just sayin’!”
Clearly, this person wasn’t happy about attending a party on game day.
Since most people aren’t fooled by sugar-coated hostility, many responded to this in support of the party host. In defense, the person countered with, “Hey, I’m just saying what everyone else is thinking! I’m just being honest!”
This interpretation of truth involves self-gratification. It’s a sneaky way of airing emotional baggage, with the hope of it hitting it’s intended target.
Do we really have the right to share something harmful about someone, even if “it’s true”? Besides, in every situation, each person involved has their own perspective on what happened.
My “truth” will be different than your “truth”, so when we gossip, we are adding our own perspective to the story. If we heard it second-hand, how many perspectives were added before our own?
It’s the same thing when we speak negatively about someone. The truth of how we see that person is based on our own interpretations of them; which is generally colored by our level of intolerance. Keep in mind, what we say about others says a lot about us, so it’s best to choose our adjectives wisely!
I have come to see truth as much more than “not telling a lie.”
Truth is a way of BEING. It is the reason we don’t tell a lie in the first place. It starts with a personal commitment – to do the “right” thing, for ourselves and others.
This includes owning the things we say and do – taking responsibility for them.
When we’re equipped with this inner truth, it surrounds us like an aura; few people see it, but most feel it, even if they don’t know that’s what it is they’re feeling. They trust us because we’re honest, and they instinctively know that we will never purposely do harm, which makes them feel safe.
We are this way because we can’t be any other way. Truth becomes an innate part of who we are. When our conscience is clear from not having compromised ourselves in any way during the day, we not only sleep well at night, we deepen our love of self. When we love our self, we can’t help but love others.
William Shakespeare said it beautifully (of course!):
”To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Can there be any greater truth than that?
Shared with love by Denise Barry. To learn more about Denise, click here
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.