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Why it’s so hard to tell the truth

tell the truth
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Our society does not reward people who tell the truth. Edward Snowden is living in exile and Karen Silkwood lost her life in the search for truth. Jesus gave his life on the cross.

Rather than receiving a reward for truth telling we pay a high price. Many times when someone called me honest it was framed as a negative trait and accompanied by a withering tone of voice. Have you experienced that?

If you told the truth in your family, you may have been scapegoated. That means you were shamed, blamed, and isolated for your desire to unveil hidden secrets or dysfunctional family systems.

We’ve been primed since childhood to avoid telling the truth. To win the acceptance and love we crave, we learn to stifle the little voice inside us and go along with the lies instead.

We say we lie to spare people’s feelings but it’s really to avoid our own discomfort. That look of disappointment or rejection when someone doesn’t like what we have to say.

We say we lie to spare people's feelings but it's really to avoid our own discomfort. Click To Tweet

The cost when you don’t tell the truth

But the cost of this untruthfulness is higher than the cost of honesty. Because the price we pay is inside us, with our health and well-being. We betray ourselves when we withhold the truth in order to raise our esteem in someone else’s eyes.

That’s the meaning of self-abandonment. We give away ourselves when we fail to tell the truth about a situation. We’re saying your comfort matters more than my needs. Even though comfort is the last thing anyone needs to move forward in life.

So, along with abandoning yourself when you lie or withhold the truth (is there a difference?) you deprive the other person of the gift of your insight.

You’re saying without words that you don’t care enough about them to tell the truth. You’re not brave enough to give them information that might save their time, money, or even their life.

Fear of change

why is it hard to tell the truth

Mostly, we’re afraid to tell the truth because as soon as we do, change will have to happen. And human beings are terrified of change.

We're afraid to tell the truth because as soon as we do, change will have to happen. Click To Tweet

For many years, almost everything I did served the purpose of avoiding the truth. I drank to numb my emotional pain. When people asked how I felt, I said, “Fine,” even when I had suicidal thoughts.

I knew acknowledging my dependence on alcohol would require me to stop drinking. I couldn’t imagine surviving without alcohol, so I kept that secret hidden, even from myself.

When I finally admitted the truth, everything changed. I entered a 12-step program and learned to hate what I used to love and love what I used to hate.

In my first recovery meeting a woman yelled out, “It’s not about the drinking!” Who knew?

It’s a coping mechanism like any other, designed to numb you from pain you have no idea how to heal. Recovery from any addiction requires us to get honest with ourselves, often for the first time.

It’s true change is hard, especially when uncovering and overcoming a traumatic past. But the only way out is through. Unfortunately, you can’t process pain by avoiding it.

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