Saturday, July 14, 2012

Truth or Dare?

Truth as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:  
Definition of TRUTH

a archaic : fidelityconstancyb : sincerity in action, character, and utterance
(1) : the state of being the case : fact (2) : the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality (3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual realityb : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true <truths of thermodynamics>c : the body of true statements and propositions
a : the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or realityb chiefly British : true 2c : fidelity to an original or to a standard

I've been on this planet for 42 years.  It's been quite the journey.  I've had many life experiences one shouldn't have to have.  I've had many wonderful experiences.  Challenges abound.  Opportunities to choose  truth/honesty or fear/avoiding truth present themselves every day, if not every hour and minute. 

One of the things that intrigues me is human nature.  In an attempt to become more aware of my own actions and motivations, I've become keenly aware of certain traits and trends.  Two in particular are the concepts of choice and truth or honesty. 

It seems, one of the greatest challenges is the ability to be truthful.  People have a difficult time owning their own truth.  Standing up for what they believe in.  Communicating how they really feel.  Doing so without making it about someone else.  Without the blame game.  The world is full of victim consciousness.  No one seems willing or able to accept responsibility for their choices.  Not even the leaders of the world!  Why would they?  It's so much easier to blame it on someone or something else.  Admitting a wrong, a mistake or something that could hurt the feelings of someone else, even if it could ultimately help them is just too far out of the comfort zone for many. We, as humans, don't want to look 'bad'.  We don't want people to think ill of us.  We want to be loved and liked by everyone.  We don't want to lose our jobs, our friends our family our reputation...  But have we truly earned it in the first place?

Still others admit to themselves and perhaps a small circle of close friends or family how they really feel, but swear them to secrecy or spin a web of lies or omissions of fact or truth to avoid uncomfortable consequences.  It's nothing but self-serving.  We'll save the seven deadly sins for next time...

There are countless others who choose to ignore the truth, because confronting it means hard and difficult work.  If things are 'ok', why change it?  Why rock the boat?  Thinking of the many people I know who are in marriages or jobs they don't want to be in, but are afraid of the consequences of saying so without considering (or wrongly assuming they know) the impact of their choices on other people involved alone boggle the mind.  No one gave us the right to make decisions for other people that are not our minor offspring.  Just because we *think* they should or shouldn't know this or that, doesn't mean we have the right to withhold information.  There is always another side to a story. 

Poll:  How many people think omitting facts is the moral equivalent of lying?  "Oh, we just went out for a few beers after work" (omitting the fact it was you and someone of the opposite sex that happened to canoodle, too) or perhaps a more benign, "Oh, we've got a conflict so we can't attend the party", when there is no conflict at all, you just don't want to go because you can't stand so and so who is going to be there but are uncomfortable saying so. 

What are we afraid of?  Of being wrong?  Of admitting we made a bad choice?  That people won't like us?  (ding, ding, ding!!!) We will hurt someone's feelings?  That we will lose friends?  That we'll lose our job?  Our money?  Our stuff? Our significant other/spouse will leave us?  Our friends, family or community won't support us any longer?  It's our egos.  They are fragile.  We don't want to be 'that' person.  

News flash.  We all are 'that' person.  

Maybe on some level, we're afraid of being successful!  It's hard work to be successful.  It's work to be responsible and own something.  It's stressful.  It can be socially and financially expensive.  We can much more easily blame someone else (so and so who didn't work hard enough or late enough or quit and killed our company) or something else, say, the economy, for our failure.  Many people don't bother to try, because they might fail.  The thing is, failure is not all bad.  Failure presents a wonderful opportunity for learning, growth and change.  Like a phoenix from the ashes, the greatest gifts can come from the worst of circumstances. 

Or, maybe, we're afraid of having to do the work that comes with recognizing, speaking, living and owning our own truth.  Because it's work.  Hard work.  Trust me.  I know.  It's a life long journey.  It won't win you many popularity contests.  It may win you inner peace and joy and a life without regrets.  You might die satisfied you've lived your best life.  Not many people can say that.  I've been there at the end of life for many people, most lament what they wish they'd said and done, no matter how old they are on their death bed. 

Since I was a child, I've had a knack for speaking my mind.  It usually gets me into trouble.  "Kimberly! You don't talk to your parents/grandparents/friends that way!"  "Why did you say that?!  No good can come of it!"  I've used my voice to educate and for the greater good.  As an adult, the ability and desire to speak my truth has brought me tremendous gifts and opportunities as well as profound losses.  I have no regrets.

I've also been on the other side of the equation, "Please don't tell X about this..."  I've been the person everything was blamed on.  I still am.  I've been the truthful and honest one and I've ended up blamed, hurt and lost good friends and family members as a result of someone else's dishonesty and inability to accept/see/own the truth as well as for my own honesty with them.  

Did it hurt?  Sure.  Does it still hurt, years later?  Hell, yes.  Did I do the right thing?  Absofuckinlutely.  Do people agree with me?  No, of course not.  Not everyone.  I don't expect them to.  It's not about them.  It's about me.  I own it.  I'm OK with it.  I've grown tremendously as a person and a spiritual being.  I've learned from my mistakes and made positive change.  Not everyone is able or willing to do that or to come along for the ride with me.  That's OK.  It doesn't matter.  It is really all about my journey.  I need to live with myself every day.  If I can't be true to myself, to my heart, my mind and my spirit, how the hell can I be truthful with anyone else?  It starts with you. 

The thing is, there is nothing wrong with being truthful.  Yes, the truth can hurt.  But if it's the truth, it can also help.  Tremendously.  Truth is often a catalyst for positive change.  You can't control how someone will react.  That's not your mission, it's theirs.  Lying to them, being dishonest, withholding information for your own selfish gain is potentially far more hurtful to them in the long run.  As we've seen played out in the media over and over, eventually, the truth will come out.  

YOUR role is to know your own truth.  To embrace it and be proud of it.  To speak it.  To live it.  To honor it.  Like everything in life, it's about choice.  We make choices every second of every day about all manner of things from the minor to the profoundly life altering.  Make your choices conscious and true to your soul.  Make them informed.  Never assume.  Make them for you.  Choose love and light, not fear and darkness.

I dare you to take a close look at your life, your work, your friends, your family and your relationships.  Are you happy?  Really, really happy?  If not, why not?  If you are, why?  Are you being honest with yourself?  With them?  Do you know what your truth is?  Do you speak it freely and comfortably?  Do you own it?  Why or why not?  Are you happy in your job?  With your relationships?  Are you honest in them?  What are you teaching your children about truth and honesty both in words and action?  Really.  Have you thought about it?  They are damn smart.  They notice everything.

So play with me.  Truth or Dare?  I dare you to spend the next 24 hours being completely truthful with yourself and everyone you interact with and about every topic of conversation that comes up.  

As FDR said so eloquently, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!"

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