By Yaromil Fong-Olivares
A couple of weeks ago, I reached out to you and asked you to share your thoughts on the reasons why hearing the truth is challenging to process. Thank you for your responses.
I think that sometimes hearing the truth hurts because my voice of self-criticism is already so loud in my head that when someone else voices the same criticism, it just reinforces the idea that there really IS something wrong with me.
Hearing the truth hurts because it forces me to acknowledge that our own personal universe does not work exactly how we thought, assumed or behaved as if it did. It makes me realize that I could have been better and/or that I have some things to atone for. Even more importantly, it makes me realize that I need to accept new rules in this game called life and actually make some changes in how I am being in relationship to myself, to my daughter, to others and to the planet.
While very different in nature, the answers do share one common thought: The truth is external and even a little crippling. It can be painful and pain can be paralyzing and damaging. I would like to acknowledge my own struggles with processing the truth. After much meditation on the subject, and yes (at the risk of sounding cliche) soul searching, this is what I am proposing we, as a self-helpful self-loving community, think about the truth.
The truth is not a lesson, it’s not feedback, and it’s not advice or criticism. The truth simply is. It’s having brown eyes, it’s having a mole on your left cheek. It’s not a lesson because it’s not an effect, it’s not something to be learned or absorbed or taken into consideration. It does not exist because of something, or as a result of something. You don’t just take a risk, fail, and end up with brown eyes.
The truth is I am turning 30 in 7 days (if you are moved to send me a gift, please consider donating to your favorite feminist organization. I can share the ones I love if you email me); it’s not that it’s forced me to consider what’ve done with the past 30 years, and actually begin to design how I live my next 30 years. Truth is that it’s just another birthday and not that I should have 2 children, own a home, have a masters, etc. Truth is that I never imagined my 30th birthday would be a big deal and truth is accepting that I couldn’t feel how I feel now until now. Truth is I am controlling. Truth is fact, without judgment attached. Truth is I am just another New Yorker turning another year older not that I feel a force greater than me pushing me to make the world better. That last part is just purpose, experience, values not truth. Unless for some unknown crazy reason I make it so, I change one person’s life for the better, maybe more. Maybe my own.
Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to hear the truth because its core innocence is so liberating, we can’t blame it on our upbringing, having a bad day, a bad boss or bad hair day. In essence, the truth might be the only real catalyst we are able to compassionately utilize to our advantage without attaching self-deprecating beliefs and internalized hatred and that makes us so sick to our stomachs that we must resist it. Like a really amazing parking spot when you are running late for a job interview, it’s just too good to be the truth, naturally, we assume, there must be a catch. We can not believe that there can really be such a thing as truth that provokes change without pain, without hate for ourselves or the person or experience pointing it out to us.
The truth is. I often write this and then follow it with something I believe. The truth is, there is no one truth, and the truth is plural. It’s vast and it’s probably the only thing you and I truly own. Therefore, when someone points out the truth to you remember that only you can accept it as such. And you elevate it to that level. If you are still not convinced consider that the truth is the only thing we should each hold on to, when life gets tough and things don’t turn out as we had hoped. For example, when prince charming turns out to be a frog, hold on to the times he showed you his spots and made those funny froggy noises. Hold on to the truth. You know you remember those times, whether you may choose to admit it now, later, or ever. And whether or not you stay with your frog.
The truth qualifies as a truth only when it actually opens the door for the person to see what could be, what is possible. The only way to see and recognize what’s possible and to begin to move forward is to be able to see what is.
Let me elaborate. If you have read any self-help anything you probably are familiar with the idea of possibility. Seize it, expand it, see it as is. Don’t limit yourself, think of the possibilities. But like a tree has its roots, possibility has its origin in truth.
If I were to put it in a formula it would look like this:
X (truth) + Y (knowledge) = Action (infinite possibility)
Often we operate with an incomplete equation. I may think I enjoy writing so I’ll become a writer. I write and write, without getting a book deal. Then I write less often, and end up becoming an administrator of some sort.
If we were to insert the truth in here it may look something like this:
I enjoy writing. I did not study writing so I do not have a full grasp on my writing abilities and natural talents. I have a full time job that requires 90 percent of my work time, the other 10 percent I surf the net procrastinating in social networks and stalking my high school friends. My husband and child and other family duties take up my personal time. The rest of the time I am volunteering as a mentor. I would like to be a professional writer but I don’t have time to write on my own nor do I have time or money to go back to school right now. And let’s face it I have no idea what it would actually take to be a professional writer. I will wait until my son starts school in 3 years to begin a writing program with the goal of becoming a professional writer. I can journal in the meantime, and read the works of other writers for inspiration.
When it comes to the truth we can’t dig our heads in the sand and wait for a miracle to happen. We can’t simply manifest without truth. We have choices. We have power. Perhaps that’s another reason why it’s so difficult to hear it, because the truth is a reminder that well we are fucking up. By fucking up I don’t mean to judge you, I mean to tell you that fucking up means selling yourself short, it means allowing malleable truth to become a crutch, a handicap. Truth is the opposite of that. Believe it or not, it’s a great thing for you. It’s the turning your head away from it that can be a dangerous handicap. It’s a handicap that leads you away from truth and not toward it. The truth can be your endless source of power. It can lead you to the lightness of self-directed progress and to finally eliminate all that self-conscious childhood nonsense you keep trying to hide. It can be the difference between superimposing your 20s onto your 30s or your first marriage onto your second. It can be the bright light that leads you to finally lose those 50 pounds you gained over the last 5 years, just admit you don’t like being 50 extra pounds and watch what happens. The truth might be the final step toward finally finishing your BA even if you never ever wish to find a related job ever again. It’s truth because it is, it’s truth because it can be changed, and it hurts because you have to change it. So in 2012 go hard as you move closer to your truth, rip off the band-aid and thrive within it. All fresh wounds heal sooner or later. They heal sooner when you tend to them.
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Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a certified life coach and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, training facilitation, writing, and speaking gigs at firstname.lastname@example.org.