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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Bringing truth and compassion into our life in an often difficult environment
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Bringing truth and compassion into our life in an often difficult environment We enormously benefit from practicing truth, not just...

Bringing truth and compassion into our life in an often difficult environment

We enormously benefit from practicing truth, not just in private but in our daily lives.

And one powerful way of expressing compassion towards ourselves and others is to practice truthful speech.

It’s interesting to become more aware of why we’re untruthful. Sometimes it’s for gain (for instance exaggerating our role so that we gain praise); sometimes it’s because of fear (we thing that if people know the truth we’ll lose their esteem); and sometimes it’s out of ill will (we want to hurt someone). When we start to consider that when we lie we’re like puppets having our strings pulled by these negative emotions of craving, fear, and ill will, honesty becomes a kind of freedom.

Sure, there are times when it’s best to leave thoughts unspoken – we need not only to practice honesty but also to practice kindness. And we need to speak at the right time. Trying to make “helpful” suggestions, no matter how well intended, can backfire when the other person is stressed or otherwise upset.

But one of the main kinds of truthful speech that we need to practice in order to bring more empathy into our lives is something very simple. When we’ve done something hurtful to another person then we should be prepared to truthful or to confess what we’ve done.

Truth can be a form of meditation in action. Truth is being honest with another person about something we’ve done to hurt or disappoint them. And actually, when we’re practicing truthfulness we’re also being honest with ourselves.

Have you noticed how often we rehearse lies and half-truths to ourselves? Ever done something like this? We’re on our way to meet someone and we left the house a little too late to get there on time. Plus, the traffic’s heavy, and so we find ourselves saying internally that we’re sorry we’re late but, boy, was that traffic bad. Recognize this?

Being untruthful, whether it’s an exaggeration, an omission, or a downright lie, happens because of fear, craving (we want to get something or we crave approval), or ill will. Being untruthful is bad for us in part because it reinforces the hold that these negative emotions have on us.

Back to that example from above, we often construct little alternative realities for ourselves to hide our failings. So when we apologize (honestly) to our friend for being late we’re not just telling them the truth, we’re also acknowledging to ourselves what the truth is. Some people construct such elaborate systems of alternative realities that they start to loose touch with reality all together.

Sometimes these attempts at self-justification take over our lives so that over and over again we find ourselves drawn back to fantasy rather than sticking with our present-moment experience. One way to help let go of these repetitive cycles of painful fantasy is by being truthful, and another is through sharing pain filled thoughts.

Truthfulness involves letting go of our defences and allowing ourselves to be seen as imperfect. In doing this we give people the gift of being related to authentically.

And we’re recognizing ourselves as imperfect as well. We’re giving to ourselves the gift of self-awareness and integrity.

We’re not pretending to be someone else. The act of sharing is also profoundly reconciling. Because we’ve let go of our defences it allows the other person to forgive us. Together, truthfulness and forgiveness are means of communication that bring ourselves and others together in a deep way – a way based on a recognition that we are who we are and not actors pretending.

Often we’ll avoid being truthful because we think, deep down, that truthful admission makes us look small, but actually truthfulness shows that we are big enough to admit to being wrong. And it’s OK to be truthful even when we haven’t meant to do anything wrong and sometimes even when someone has taken offense quite unreasonably.

When we say we are sorry it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re admitting that we’re at fault (although it can of course mean just that). The word “sorry” is closely related to the word “sorrow” although we rarely remember the connection. So “sorry” can instead mean that we are sorrowful that the other person is upset, even if they’ve completely misinterpreted what we said or did.

Becoming Truthful in these circumstances can open a door to reconciliation in a way that a defensive “that’s not what I meant” never can. Once the other person has accepted our truth there will be time to explain what we really said or meant or did.

Sharing is similar to telling the truth, but is not necessarily directed to the person we’ve offended. When we’re sharing, we’re being honest with a third party (and with ourselves, of course) about who we are and what we have done. But in essence we’re standing in front of our ideals in a state of  honesty, admitting that we have fallen short of how we would ideally like to behave.

So it’s only possible to confess to someone who shares the same ideals we do. If, for example, you shared that you were contemplating having an affair to someone who actively encouraged you to go ahead and be unfaithful, then that wouldn’t be very helpful for our truthful development.

We should consider ourselves very lucky indeed if there is someone to whom we can share to in this way. We can consider ourselves lucky to have someone whom we can confide in, who can keep confidences, and who shares our truth perspective and won’t let us off the hook. That’s a real friend, and such friends are all too rare.

We should also, in the spirit of truthfulness, be prepared to understand others. To withhold truth in order to hurt another person or out of self-righteous anger is an abuse of the other person’s honesty and sensitivity. We’re hardly likely to encourage people to be honest with us if we punish them for it. Of course there may be times when we feel unable to share to
 someone instantly, and that’s okay. Genuine truthfulness will take time. But we should not withhold sharing out of anger or mean-spiritedness. We should give truth as freely as we are able.

The Ten Stages is a studied recovery course. It is a source of reconnection a method of unlearning and a reintroduction to our child within which leads us back to our one true intuitive voice.We start to learn and come out of our protective dysfunctional shell and reclaim our lives. www.thetenstages.com


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