Truth Telling and Other Terrors

August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Marianne Williamson once famously wrote that “our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.”

I believe that the power we seek “beyond measure” can only happen when we have summoned up the courage to tell the truth about our lives.  Often times we hide from the truth because we can’t stand the pain that might lurk inside it: Your boss isn’t ever going to promote you, you have a dead end job and no plan for the future, or  the guy you like hasn’t called you in weeks, and you spotted him just yesterday out to lunch with a supermodel.   Often times it’s just so much easier to live in a false reality  (She’ll promote me one day! He’s just scared of love!) than it is to face the truth of a situation and move on.

Maybe we haven’t asked for that raise at work because deep down we know our boss isn’t going to give it to us, or maybe we haven’t applied for that job we really want because we fear we won’t actually get it.  We’d rather live in fantasy…”when I get that amazing job!”… than stomach the pain of a possible failure.

Or maybe we are avoiding talking to a friend or family member about a very important topic because we are afraid of the truth — maybe they won’t change for us or won’t see our point, or won’t even care.  Maybe we know this already but simply can’t stand to face the pain, the anguish of that truth.  When other people won’t change, the only option then available to us is for us to change. And maybe we don’t want to change, or aren’t ready to.    And oftentimes, when we do tell the truth, relationships do change, and sometimes they even end; understandably we’re not always ready or able to deal with that.

So what do we do?  We don’t tell the truth.

Instead we live in fear and hurt, frustration, bitterness, or expectation.  We deny ourselves the truth of our lives and live in a fantasy of what could have been or might one day be.

I would imagine it is kind of hard to be “powerful beyond measure” when we are experiencing any or all of the above.

One of my favorite writers, Sharon Butala, wrote in Perfection of the Morning: “We haven’t yet told the truth about our lives. Until we tell the truth out loud, no matter how humiliating or painful or at variance with society’s version, we will not come to know what we are, what is truly our world of experience…”

What this means, is that if we hide from others, we hide from ourselves and we remain hidden, disempowered… in this situation our true selves cannot emerge. We cannot step into our power because we have not stepped into the truth of our lives and experience.   Until we do, we continue to bump up against that metaphorical glass ceiling.  We hurt ourselves then, and — you guessed it– we also hurt others.

If we are female we probably have this “little problem” to a different degree than men. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago — and it still happens around the world today! — that women were considered to be the property of their fathers, brothers or husbands, burned or stoned to death in “honour” killings, and burned at the stake for acting autonomously.  And now you want me to tell you the truth of my experience?! Can we as women really do this and not feel at least some of the terror of what our ancestors have felt before us.  In many many ways, telling the truth about our lives and experience is still a very recent and scary concept.

I really believe that when people start becoming honest,  the world  then opens up.  When we are honest we step into our power. We might not be liked very much but at least we can go to sleep at night with the knowledge that we have integrity and are living our real lives.   We might wake up in the morning as our real self.

But please, just don’t ask me to go first.

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