Anyone familiar with my writing knows that I am a BIG advocate of telling the truth.
The truth is the foundation of the method I use to coach my clients, lead workshops and seminars, and govern my own life, from finances to food and everything in between. I tell the truth about how much money I want to make and why; this helps me map out a realistic business plan. I tell the truth about my diet so I can keep my goals and live in a body I love. Most importantly, I strive to tell the truth in my friendships and relationships – not only to get what I want (love and intimacy) but also to get rid of what I don’t want, AKA awkwardness, loneliness and disconnectedness.
What’s the theory behind my philosophy?
WHAT WE HIDE OWNS US
Secrets and lies kill relationships. What we keep secret stays real and present for us and impacts our experience of life and our future, killing our confidence and our dreams. Shining light and owning up sets us free, helps us self-correct and builds the real intimacy that we so deeply crave.
We all have a list of secrets, big and small. Our friends and loved ones have secrets that they keep from us, too. We are accustomed to believe that if we tell people what we really think, we may hurt their feelings or get into trouble. We keep our real thoughts secret and ultimately hide our true selves from the people we care about most. But if you believe that “like attracts like,” what can you expect to receive when you present an untruthful version of yourself?
Alternately, being authentic attracts the right kind of people to you. It frees you from making fear-based decisions and judgements, and connects you to your people, your dreams, and your highest self. The truth is often harder to tell, but it’s so much easier to live with in the long run.
MAKE A LIST OF CONFESSIONS
When I coach clients, I give them one of the same assignments I had to complete in order to become a coach: write up a lengthy confession list of Ways You Lie. This is a great exercise for people who are in denial about it (reality check: everybody lies sometimes!) or people who want to keep their truth-stretching at bay or beat the behavior for good. List a few of the most recent times you have engaged in the following:
* Outright lying: saying something that isn’t true.
* Hiding things: withholding information that you should have said.
* Partial truths: you shared only partially what happened.
* Thinking, but not saying, things that would hurt someone else.
* Faking something: like injuries, or being someone’s friend. These are where you think one way, but act another.
* Avoiding confrontations.
* Keeping secrets that are “no one’s business.”
* Activities you are now embarrassed by or ashamed of:
* Hurting people.
* Manipulating people.
* Cheating (on people, tests, at cards, etc.).
Of course I have a list too, which I share in with my clients or when leading workshops. My list is complete with ways I exaggerated the work I did, manipulated my way out of chores at home, hid things from my boss, or let an unpleasant conversation linger on and on in my head without airing it with the other person. When I share my list, I am always relieved that reading it aloud does not cause people to hate me or look down on me. Actually, that’s exactly why I do it – to show people that it doesn’t make them want to punish me. If anything, it connects us more deeply. What makes us human is not truly shameful, unforgivable or unlovable.
WEIGH IN ON THE CONSEQUENCES
Inevitably, clients resist the idea that these things might get revealed to those whom they impacted. I share my experiences, having done this work myself with great success. This helps, but here is what convinces them: I juxtapose the suffering inherent in hiding the truth, with the alternative consequences of telling the truth. I ask them if they are willing to take the true consequences of their choices, and to grow from them.
Often, instead of taking the true consequence of our choices, enduring the reactions of the people we’ve impacted, we punish ourselves a little bit for a very long time. Most of us punish ourselves WAY MORE than anyone else ever would for that which we regret. We enact in our imaginations being rejected over and over and over as a result of the truth coming to light. We cut ourselves off from the person involved (yes, even if we are married to them). Suddenly, we cannot really say what we think, ask for what we want, come through totally for that person.
THE ART OF TOUGH CONVERSATIONS
The suggestion in coaching is to take the actual consequence, rather than keep the lie. At the VERY worst, it might be a one-time rejection (versus the repetitive rejections you live with in your mind) that hurts like a bandaid being ripped off. More likely, you’ll you’ll just have to be with someone while they have an emotional reaction and work through their feelings about what happened. The other person might remember the situation in a much different way than you do. Maybe they have a confession as well!
I assure you, when done right, these conversations bring a new respect and closeness to a relationship. Having these kinds of conversations is the only path to forgiveness from others and from yourself.
Designing these types of conversations is an art form and we don’t recommend you do it without supervision and practice. Sometimes, real fights ensue, which is likely for the best. While these might be scary, remember that even in the wake of a fight, ultimate success and resolution is possible, perhaps even more likely. We believe that truth-telling, intimacy, and courageous conversations are KEY components of deep and lasting friendships – and that those types of friendships are key components of a happy life.
PS – I’m happy to announce that I will be leading our next Design Your Life Weekend. Our flagship course will introduce you to the Handel Method® and get you on the road to seeing your life in a whole new way. If you’re ready to commit to an honest evaluation and incredible evolution in your own life, don’t wait any longer. Join me!