Telling the Truth…or Not

May 19 21:00 2003 Margaret Paul, Ph.D. Print This Article

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Title: Telling the Truth…or Not
Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Copyright: © 2003 by Margaret Paul
Web Address:
Word Count: 1513
Category: Relationships

By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Having counseled individuals, couples, families and business
partners for the past 35 years, I have often encountered people
struggling in their relationships about whether or not to tell their
truth to someone important to them.

Deciding whether or not we choose to speak our truth needs to
come from our own honesty with ourselves about why we are
speaking the truth. Truth can enhance or destroy a relationship,
depending upon the intent.

There are times when telling your "truth" is unloving. For
example, you might not be wild about what your friend is
wearing, but if your friend is giving an important presentation and
asks you how she (or he) looks, it would not be in anyone's
highest good to give your opinion. Opinions are generally
judgments and rarely contribute to the good of a relationship. It is
therefore very important to distinguish between opinions and
truth. Too often, just because we think something is true, we
assume that it is true. However, truth is a fact, not a opinion. If I
am hungry, that is a fact, but how you look is my opinion.

There are times when someone might be having a hard time,
and it is not fun to be around them. For example, your friend has
lost a beloved person to death, and your friend is in mourning. It
is not fun for you to be around the grief and stress, yet telling your
friend that it doesn't feel good to be around him or her would not
be loving or supportive of your friend. It is very important, when
telling our truth, to distinguish between being loving to ourselves
and others - having our own highest good and the other's
highest good at heart - and making another responsible for our
feelings. Telling another that, "I'm upset because you're tense
and it doesn't feel good to be around you," may indicate a lack of
empathy and making the other responsible for your feelings.

Therefore, the important thing in telling the truth is to be honest
with yourself about your own intent in telling your truth. Are you
truly being loving to yourself and others, or are you using your
truth to control another and make him or her responsible for
you? Are you speaking your truth to enhance the relationship, or
to get the other to change?

However, there are many times when speaking your truth is in
your highest good and the highest good of others. Yet many of
us have much difficulty speaking our truth to others, especially to
important others such as parents, siblings, close friends,
co-workers and mates. We are afraid the other person will be
angry or hurt by our truth, even when we state it without judgment
or blame. So we say yes when we mean no, say things are okay
when they aren't, avoid difficult topics of conversation, pretend to
enjoy something - food, sex, a movie, the topic of conversation,
the way we are spending time - to avoid upsetting another. We
may continue to tolerate things that are intolerable to us to avoid
a conflict.

Withholding our truth can be a form of control, just as telling our
truth can be a form of control. We may want to control how
another feels about us and treats us. We want to make sure we
don't get attacked or rejected. Often I hear my clients say, when I
encourage them to tell the truth, "I can't say that. He (or she) will
get mad." Yes, he or she might get hurt or mad. Yet courage may
mean the willingness to speak your truth anyway and learn to
deal with the other person's response. This is part of developing
an inner loving Adult self - learning to not take the other person's
behavior personally, learning to stay solid in our truth and allow
the other person to go through whatever he or she experiences
in response to our truths without taking responsibility for the
other's feelings.

Avoiding the other's hurt and anger is only one part of the
challenge. The other part is that we may be unwilling to know the
truth regarding whether or not that other person cares about
what is important to us. If, for example, you tell your mate that you
are unhappy with a particular aspect of your sex life, and your
mate gets hurt or angry instead of wanting to understand, you
might feel even worse. It feels awful to speak our truth and
receive an uncaring response. The deeper feeling is one of
gut-wrenching loneliness. It is deeply lonely to share something
that is important to us and receive an uncaring response from
some one important to us.

So, not only are we often afraid of dealing with another's anger,
but we may be even more afraid of the lonely feeling of being
uncared for. Until we are willing to know the truth of whether or
not the other person really does care about what is important to
us, we may avoid speaking our truth.

However, when we withhold our truth to avoid conflict and avoid
feeling uncared for by another, the consequence is that we feel
alone and maybe depressed because we are not caring about
ourselves. When we don't stand up for ourselves, we end up
feeling unimportant, regardless of how others treat us. We
cannot ignore ourselves and feel good inside.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, "Are we willing to give
ourselves up to avoid losing others, or are we willing to lose
others rather than lose ourselves?" I have found that losing
myself is never worth it. If I lose others as a result of speaking
my truth, then I have to accept the truth that those people never
had my highest good at heart anyway. People who care about my
highest good applaud me when I speak the truth that supports
my highest good. People who care about me support me in
living my truth. Those who just want to use me in some way will
get angry or hurt at my truth, and that lets me know the truth
about their intent.

Therefore, we have to be willing to know another's truth
regarding whether or not that person really cares about us in
order to tell our heartfelt truth. Let's say that you say to your
partner, "It is not tolerable for me to be around you when you are
drinking. I feel shut out and disconnected from you when you
drink. It is just too lonely to be with you when you are drinking." If
alcohol is more important to your partner than you are, then the
response is likely to be, "That's your problem, not mine. Stop
blaming me for your feelings. Stop trying to control me!" If you are
more important to your partner than alcohol, then your partner
will address the issue and get some help with the problem. The
question is, do you want to know the reality of the situation? Are
you prepared to take loving action for yourself if you discover that
your partner really doesn't care about the effect his or her
behavior is having on you?

You will have the courage to speak your truth when you have the
courage to know the truth about any given relationship. What if
you say to your best friend, "I often feel judged by you and it
doesn't feel good," and your best friend gets defensive and tells
you it's all your problem. What are you going to do if your best
friend consistently responds in an uncaring way? Are you willing
to lose someone whom you have believed was your best friend,
or are you going to avoid telling the truth to avoid knowing the
truth? Are you willing to feel the loneliness if you find out that
someone you thought cared really doesn't, or do you want to go
on pretending that real caring exists with that person?

It take great courage to tell the truth and discover the truth. We
often kid ourselves into thinking that avoiding others anger and
hurt is a loving thing to do. We justify our behavior by telling
ourselves that it's just that we don't want to hurt or upset others,
or that we just don't want to deal with another's hurt or anger. Yet
avoidance may not be loving to ourselves or others. Are you
willing to sacrificing your own integrity to avoid the pain of conflict
and loneliness? To me, nothing is worth a loss of integrity, not
even the loss of another.

When you really tune into how you feel when you withhold your
truth to protect yourself from conflict and loneliness, you will
discover that honoring yourself by telling your truth, without
blame or judgment, is deeply empowering. You will feel on top of
the world when you finally have the courage to speak your
heartfelt truth when your intent is to support your own and others'
highest good.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of
eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By
You?", "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?",
"Healing Your Aloneness","Inner Bonding", and "Do I Have To
Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?" Visit her web site for a FREE
Inner Bonding course: or

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About Article Author

Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of
eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By
You?", "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?",
"Healing Your Aloneness","Inner Bonding", and "Do I Have To
Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?" Visit her web site for a FREE
Inner Bonding course: or

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