I believe that, generally speaking, most people are honest at heart.
I don’t think that anyone leaves the house in the morning thinking ‘today I’m going to be dishonest’.
There are times though when we don’t always tell the whole truth.
Often this is with the best of intentions, because we believe that if we’re completely and totally truthful about what we’re thinking or feeling it could cause problems.
If you’ve seen the film Liar Liar you know what I’m talking about. Jim Carey plays a lawyer who is cursed with needing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth for 24 hours.
It soon becomes apparent just how many times a day he tells an ‘untruth’. Trying a case in a completely honest way is a challenge (to say the least), explaining his inability to be on time to see his son is nearly impossible…and when the woman he slept with asks him, “How was it for you?” the response, “I’ve had better” wasn’t so well received!
So what do we believe will happen if we tell our truth?
- People won’t like us
- We will be judged
- People will think that we don’t like them
- We will hurt people’s feelings
- People will know the ‘reality’ of our situation
- We will have to deal with a confrontation
- People will disagree with us
- We will inconvenience people
- People will be totally honest in return
- We will be rejected
The list of options and possible outcomes is infinite!
But often we don’t stop to consider what the benefits are of telling our truth.
Last night I had a very powerful experience at the gathering for a community of women that I lead in London. The group is called Tribal Truth and the basis of the community is being able to speak your truth.
As part of our event we did an activity that involved having to get out of the room as quickly as possible due to a ‘fire’. The only challenge in doing this was that some of the members of the group had certain ‘disabilities’ for the duration of the exercise. Two women were unable to talk, two were unable to see, one was unable to use her legs and one was ‘unconscious’ (don’t worry, we didn’t really knock her out…she just pretended! 😉 )
So the exercise began and everyone got to work helping the other members of the team who needed assistance in getting out of the room. I turned to the woman who it was most natural for me to help (the one who I was closest to) and realised that it was the lady who was unconscious.
I turned back to the room to look for someone to help me but they were all busy helping other people and as I was one of the people who was unable to speak (as you may have guessed, this was a bit of a challenge for me!) I wasn’t able to call to someone else to help. I suddenly realised that if this were a real fire, I would have to find a way to get this woman out of the room on my own.
I suddenly felt very alone. I saw one of the other women dragging the lady who couldn’t use her legs out of the room on a chair and realised that was a good technique to try. The only downside is that I have quite a bad back and so dragging another person on a chair by myself from the place in the room furthest from the door was a real challenge!
When the exercise was complete we all came back together in the room to share our experience.
When we began sharing some of the women explained that they thought the exercise had gone very well and that they had really trusted the women who had been helping them. Others shared that they thought that it had been really good how everyone had seemed to get on with it without any real need for much discussion or noise.
I realised that, as uncomfortable as it was, I needed to be honest about the experience that I’d had. I shared with the group that I had felt that I’d been left completely on my own, that I hadn’t felt supported at all and that being unable to speak I hadn’t been able to ask for help.
What happened next was amazing.
Stepping up and sharing the honesty of my experience opened the door to an incredible conversation about the exercise, about ourselves and about our community. It led to a powerful discussion during which each woman felt comfortable sharing her honest opinion, and through which we solved some challenges we’d been facing, uncovered and resolved others that we hadn’t even been aware of and came up with ideas for new ways of doing things which benefitted the group as a whole.
If I hadn’t shared the truth about my experience, that conversation would never have taken place.
I am also very lucky to have a couple of very close friends with whom I can be completely open and honest about EVERYTHING. The strength and closeness of our friendship comes from the fact that we know that we can be completely truthful with each other, without judgment….and that when there are differences in our opinion that we will work them out.
I wish everyone this kind of friendship, because it is stronger, has more clarity and more value than the most perfect diamond.
So I ask you…where in your life could you share more of your truth? …and what could it possibly uncover that wouldn’t be revealed without it?