Telling The Truth: Creating Authentic Relationships

This is a repost from Jennifer Lehr MFT’s Healing Tips Blog, originally posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Sometimes it is hard to tell the truth because:

* We don’t trust our perceptions.
* We are afraid of hurting the other person.
* We are afraid we will make them angry or they will abandon us.
* We don’t realize that relationships are about relating.
* We have been taught to take care of others by not being ourselves.
* We assume that we are 100% responsible for the relationship.
* We see ourselves as powerless in the relationship.
* We are afraid of being transparent, real and seen.
* We are afraid of our power.

If we don’t tell the truth, the other person has no way of knowing who we are, what we are thinking or feeling, or how they are impacting us. We assume (perhaps unconsciously) that they do not have the ability to navigate through their own feelings in response to us. Although this may be true, by not telling the truth, we rob them of the opportunity to rise to the challenge of relating to who we are, of having a truly authentic relationship with us.

Learning to tell the truth is a big process. Often we have been taught since we were little to put other’s feelings ahead of our own. We have been taught that relating is being the same as the other, rather than allowing our differences. In order to alter this and honor ourselves, we need a new perspective. We need to know that as we take action and speak the truth in a way that empowers us, our lives will re-align. Our actions have impact and allow us to change, creating our lives. We are no longer held hostage by our fears of voicing ourselves, of being seen. As we become truthful, those we interact with get to choose whether or not they can also step up to the challenge. In either case our relationships will change. We will become closer to those, who whether they like it or not, support hearing our truth and honesty. These relationships will deepen and we will no longer feel as alone. We may lose relationships with those who do not want to hear how they affect us, who do not want to know who we are. When this happens, we may experience grief. Rather than being trapped in resentment, or fear, we have the opportunity to grieve and let go of our expectations, accepting the limitations of that person and relationship. A reorganization of our lives and relationships occurs.

How do you not tell the truth? Look at someone in your life who you don’t talk to directly about his or her impact on you. Imagine telling them something they do that is difficult for you. Notice what feelings come up: discomfort, fear, shame? Notice how you choose the feelings associated with not telling the truth: frustration, feeling trapped etc, rather than the feelings that emerge when you do tell the truth. Both sets of feelings are uncomfortable, but one will lead you to freedom and authentic, healthy relationships, and the other will keep you trapped and dis-empowered. It is your choice. What kind of relationships do you want to have? What kind of life do you want to live?

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About Jennifer Lehr

Jennifer Lehr is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of WeConcile™. She recently closed her private practice to focus on writing WeConcile™, a web based self help program to assist couples with their relationships. She has also served as a personal coach and has run groups and workshops with a focus on creativity and exploring one's personal myth. Her work is influenced by the creative process, spirituality and various theoretical orientations including Attachment Theory, Gestalt Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychology, Inter-subjectivity, Buddhist thought and Transpersonal Psychology. You can read more at www.jenniferlehrmft.com
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