Learning to tell the truth
We live in a society that does not know how to tell the truth. From the pictures that we see, to the stories that are reported on the news, and running through our culture is a web of lies.
We are taught as children to say thank you when we do not mean it. We are also told to say sorry, when perhaps we are not. In many families, the underlying message to the children is that no matter what is going on inside the home, outside of it, we must look good to the outside world.
Many people grow up thinking that if people saw what they were really like inside, they would be rejected. We pick up very young that being who we are means that we do not fit in, and so we adapt our behaviour so that we will be accepted.
The models that are paraded in front of us are super thin, and made up and always smiling. We are taught that this is what women should be like- available, desirable and beautiful. The downside of this cultural belief is that there has been an enormous increase in eating disorders, self- esteem issues and body hatred in the female population. As we are bombarded with pictures of what we should look like instead of lessons in accepting ourselves as we are, there is a deep sense of dissatisfaction in the female half of the population.
Women are not the only ones to suffer from this misperception of the body and self. Men increasingly are turning up in the treatment centers looking for help with eating disorders, exercise addiction, and other issues that display a distinct lack of self and self esteem. Their behaviours suggest a lasting unhappiness with how they are- if I could just....., I will be ok/ feel safe/ like myself.
Telling the truth and accepting yourself are very much part of the same lesson. When our feelings are denied as children, or we learn to modify them, as we grow into adults, we learn that it is easier to continue to hide our true feelings than reveal what is going on for us. Have you ever experienced a situation when someone asks you how you are and then changes the subject if you are being honest about what’s going on for you?
To understand this, it can be difficult for others to hear your true feelings because it may be too close to how they are feeling. If they are not prepared to look at their feelings, they will not want to hear about yours. Or they may not be prepared to listen to something that is authentic as it may challenge their own denial about what is going on for them.
Denial is huge in our society. From politicians to our next door neighbours, we live in a world of denying the reality of what is in front of us by living in addiction, fantasy, or escapism. We do this with the television, cinema, radio, books, substances- anything to take us away from ourselves and how we really feel. It is endemic. Very few people are able to be truthful and very few people are able to hear the truth from others.
Learning to tell the truth can be very challenging for most people as we are accustomed to saying what we think other people want to hear. Learning to say, “I’m not doing so well today” or “I would rather spend the evening alone tonight thank you” can take immense courage. We are used to pleasing others and saying what we think will get us attention, or love, or praise.
However, if you can tell the truth, and practice continuing to tell the truth then you give those around you the permission to tell their truth too. Of course, all of this requires that some time is spent discovering what is true for you- who do you like to spend time with?, what do you believe?, and what would you do if money was no obstacle? Maybe there are other questions too, but these are good ones to start with- what is your truth?
Telling the truth involves being completely truthful- no embellishment, drama, excuses, or denial, but the facts and the feelings that are what are going on for you right now. It is a learning curve- every now and again ask yourself, “Do I mean that?” It is a continual effort, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
Telling the truth means that you are able to speak you mind in a loving and kind way, and follow your intuition about what you should do and where you should go. When we are pleasing others, we often end up in situations that we would rather not be in because we didn’t know how to speak up for ourselves. Being truthful allows you to do more of what suits you, with the people you want to be with because they support you and care about you.
Written by Caroline Nettle
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