Should You Always Tell the Truth?
By Debbie Mandel
Almost daily one of our greatest stressors is the degree to which we should be honest: To tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or are there times when the truth does not set us free? We have all been taught to tell the truth along with the conflicting instructions of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” How many of us when we were small have caught our parents lying on the telephone? When confronted about the contradiction, they smiled sheepishly, “Oh, it’s okay because it’s just a white lie. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Sometimes it’s kinder not to tell the truth.” Perhaps, we have passed on this contradiction to our own children.
Currently a doctor is being investigated and might even be brought up on charges for offending an obese patient by telling her the truth that she has to lose weight because her health is in jeopardy. Soon doctors will have to read “Miranda rights” and get a signed release from their patients to speak frankly concerning their conditions. Is the truth based on a doctor’s educated opinion something the patient can handle and does the doctor really know for sure how much time a patient has left?
Truth is not an absolute; in fact, the truth is fluid and allusive; mostly it is subjective, our own judgment to prove ourselves right. When we believe that we know the truth, in actuality we are relating our personal interpretation of the truth. The more passionate, entrenched we are in our truth and upset by someone else’s version, the more we need to listen and have compassion for what the other side is trying to teach us about ourselves.
Withholding the truth about our thoughts and feelings is wise during the initial stages of opening our heart to someone in friendship or in love. We can use this time to sort out our fantasies from the realities as most relationships begin in fantasy. When we are ready to become vulnerable which means to hear someone else’s truth about ourselves, then we are ready to reveal what we know. Becoming vulnerable from a point of opening ourselves up to listen and to speak, that is the highest form of truth between two people.
A new relationship needs to take its time and flow. You don’t want to trigger a storm that will create a raging river as soon as you say, hello. For example, when you meet someone for the first time, you don’t have to reveal your medical history, “Hello, my name is Joe and I have gastroesophageal reflux with a burning pain in my esophagus and chest when I eat fried foods, tomato sauce and cucumbers. Also, I have a fungus on my toenails and am taking Lamisil.” Or, “I have been victimized in two bad relationships that have left me feeling cold, contracted and suspicious.” That’s more than one needs to know about you initially. Remember this is your truth, your buried treasure, and you are in control when you want to share your thoughts, dreams and feelings. Before you speak, it is important to reflect on how your words will be received by the other person. Timing could be everything regarding tolerant acceptance.
Here are some suggestions about how not to stress about when to tell the truth:
- Follow your gut feeling. Your intuition will let you know when it is time to reveal what is in your heart.
- Timing is everything. Do not time your truth when the other person is not ready to hear it or involved with his own stressful situation.
- Choose your words carefully – the way they will be received, not just the way you tell it.
- Pick a place that has positive energy to reveal your feelings. The listener will absorb the positive energy and be in a better heart frame to listen.
- Be prepared to give the other person some time to process. After all, you have been processing for a long time.
- Just announcing your truth into reality will be liberating! Accept the other person’s real response. It might not be what you expected or wanted!
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com