The Power Of Telling The Truth

by Judith Rich on June 4, 2009

Agreement #1-” Be impeccable with your word.”
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

In my post last week, 10 Ways To Nurture Soulful Living, I listed telling the truth at #1.

In spite of the remarkable achievements of human beings, there is a universal experience of a deep, essential part of ourselves that feels unattended. I assert this unattended part is the soul, calling out to be nurtured, aching to tell its truth.

Telling  the truth gets top billing, because without it, nothing else in your life has legs on which to stand. Your truth, as you see it, know it and speak it, constitutes the pillars on which your life is built. Withhold it; shave it, trim it, and you’ve sold out your soul. Since the soul seeks the truth, anything less is a compromise. To the soul it’s a lie. The ego tells a story to cover it up from the mind, a justification to placate the conscience. But the soul never forgets a lie.

Consider Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, based on the ancient Toltec wisdom tradition of the people of southern Mexico, who believed that science and spirit are both part of the same entity and governed by the universe.

Agreement #1: “Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

This instruction assumes you know and understand the power of your word and how to use it. Yet we live in a society that not only does not value speaking the truth, it rewards deceit.

We’re conditioned to lie, though we rarely call it that when the truth has been breached. “Mistakes were made” is how the media and politicos spin lying. The world economic collapse is the outcome of a system of lies that finally unraveled, bringing down an entire country (Iceland), investment institutions (Lehman Bros, AIG) and companies that have formed the backbone of our country’s manufacturing sector like GM and Chrysler.

What’s more important than telling the truth?

If the truth is so powerful, why do people resist telling it? Frankly, because there are more tangible rewards for “spinning” than there are for being courageous. When our founding father chopped down that cherry tree and proclaimed, “I cannot tell a lie,” we should have stamped those words on every coin in the land. Perhaps we might have learned. Instead, here’s what we settle for:

1. Looking good and having others’ approval

We worry if we tell the whole truth, we might offend someone. We worry they’ll think badly of us or we’ll hurt their feelings. We worry they’ll withdraw their approval, which would suck because we depend upon these people to give us our sense of self worth, affirm our identity and justify our existence!

This is the result of faulty thinking, conditioned over a lifetime of wanting to fit in and appear normal. Underneath this is an inner conversation that fears you’re not really normal. Everyone else is normal, but not you. So to appear normal you need to play the game like everyone else plays it. And guess what? Everyone else is playing it just like you!

We end up being inauthentic and dishonest, which becomes the standard for normal. All this takes place below the level of our conscious awareness. We’re living a lie and lying to ourselves about the fact that we’re living a lie! Here’s the lie: It’s not other people’s feelings we’re concerned about. It’s our own!

2. Staying Safe and Avoiding Pain

Telling the truth can be very uncomfortable.  But better to own up before the cosmic bank starts to charge interest on your dishonesty. Sooner or later, the truth will out. The interest rate is high for prolonging the inevitable. You rob yourself of courage and integrity by playing it safe. Money will not buy it back.

3. Being in Control and Being Right

Withholding the truth is a way of manipulating others and maintaining control. You tell yourself others can’t handle the truth. I assert we’re really not all that concerned about other people when we withhold the truth. It’s our own feelings we’re protecting. We simply can’t tolerate witnessing other people be uncomfortable in the presence of our honesty. So we dress it up to make it more palatable.

“OK,” you say, “but do I have to go around like a jerk telling people what I really think? Am I supposed to sound off on people, read them the riot act? Do I just go home and vomit the truth all over my spouse? What about the aftermath? How do I handle that?”

Good questions! Consider this:

Life’s too short to live it as a lie.

What if you could learn to tell the truth in such a way that those on the receiving end feel they’ve been served? What if you could deliver the truth, as you know it to be, and the other person thanks you for your honesty? It can most definitely be done and I recommend you learn how to do it before your final breath.

Learn to tell the truth in a way that it truly does set you free. Be a responsible, humble, servant to the truth. Own it as yours. Claim it. Telling the truth is a humbling experience. Be humbled by it. When you surrender your ego to being in service to the truth, everybody wins.

We are living in a time when the lies of the past can no longer be tolerated as we move into a new stage of our collective consciousness. The old system is collapsing under the weight of its untruths and we are here to sweep up the wreckage and begin again. The truth is often very painful to tell and to receive, but it will set us free. From the wreckage, new possibilities arise.

Our job is to be guardians of the truth that is aligned with the values on which we seek to build the future. We must settle for nothing less than the truth that serves the highest good for all, not just for a few.

Honor your word as your sacred bond. Tell the impeccable truth, without compromise. If you do, your soul will reward you with a sense of peace, satisfaction, freedom, lightness, aliveness, and completion. And that, my friend, cannot be purchased at any price. All the riches in the world cannot buy you what telling the truth provides. This then, is what your soul came to have you learn.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this week’s topic. How does telling the impeccable truth live for you? What gets in the way for you? What happens when you have the courage to do so?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

BJ June 27, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Being impeccable with one’s word is a double-edged sword – no doubt about it. It is also a challenge to maintain that level of honesty, because – frankly – our society is so used to deceit and misrepresentation, we have become programmed to expect and accept it. The old saying, “the truth hurts” is often very accurate, and people would rather not hear the truth if it might sting a bit.

Personally, I try to be as honest as I can, without saying things that I know may cause someone hurt or discomfort. It would be wonderful if we could all meld honesty with a touch of the Golden Rule, wouldn’t it?

I can share an example that just happened today: I got a call from someone I seldom hear from anymore, asking if I’d like to get together this evening. As the conversation continued, it was revealed that this person had no date or other activities available, and I was clearly the “last resort” phone call. While most people would probably prefer hearing, “Hey, I was thinking… we haven’t hung out together in a long time….”, I’m one of those few who would have preferred cold honesty, a la, “Hey, I don’t have anything to do tonight – wanna get together later?” How many of us would be willing to be that honest, though? The fact is that it’s okay to make that phone call if you DON’T tell the truth, but it would likely be insulting to most if you were totally honest.

Then there’s the white lie, and the omission of fact to take into account. It’s a tricky topic, but one that definitely needs attention. Thanks for writing about it and opening the subject up for debate.

Damilitantone July 5, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Honesty is the most important attribute for a healthy soul, however; being honest with yourself about yourself is the key. We all have a tendency to try a deceive ourselves about situations and circumstances in our lives that may cause us pain and discomfort. When this occurs, it usually stems from a person not wanting to face negatives issues that are affecting their well being and their ability to live a more productive life. Be it drug abuse, infidelity, or one of the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, or pride, anyone of these “vices” or a combination of several can cause one’s life to spin out of control. One must first find the courage and the strength to admit their failings to themselves and begin to develop an action plan to correct the problem. Some are fortunate to find viable solutions internally that “fix” their problems. For others dealing one problem ineffectively usually causes self destructive behavior to expand into other areas of their lives. Seeking outside counsel or help need not be construed as weakness for the solution to one’s problems may be found taking this route. The important thing is to choose a path that heals the soul of its maladies and that provides lasting relief and comfort. While problems and issues may crop up from time to time, they are more readily handled through honesty and perseverance. Once honesty with one’s self is achieved, honesty with others becomes more of a reality. The maxim “to thine owns self be true” is definitely the key to a healthy soul.

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