I have a friend who talks all the time about speaking his truth and no longer being a victim; it has become his identity.
He says he is a truth-teller and if people can’t handle it…well, too bad.
Speaking ones truth is a trendy idea these days and it sounds very evolved, but I think the idea needs exploring because the way I see people “speak their truth” misses the point entirely.
What exactly does it mean to speak your truth? You could get lost for weeks and months reading philosophical arguments about what truth is…absolute vs. relative, subjective vs. objective-these ideas have been debated for thousands of years. This is not what my friend means.
My friend is seeking to own his story and empower him and others by sharing it, but he is deeply erroneous in his understanding of what it means to speak his truth. More on him soon.
It is sometimes helpful to understand first what something is not before understanding what it is and that is helpful here too…
Speaking our truth does not excuse demeaning others in the process of our truth telling. It does not mean that our opinion is always necessary or relevant. It does not give us full license to say anything we’d like, anytime we’d like…because it is good for us. It does not require that we are the only focus of attention and it does not minimize our accountability to others in how we say what we say. It does not minimize the feelings of others or eclipse their experiences so that we are allowed the space we need. Speaking truth, at its core, is meant to be empowering and life-giving, not disempowering – for those telling the truth and for those listening.
My friend bullies his way through conversation and situations under the guise of speaking his truth.
He belittles the ideas and opinions of others because they’re not in line with his and they simply don’t fit into his paradigm, a paradigm that is too narrow in focus to allow room for others.
He excuses his own selfish behaviour by suggesting that he cannot speak his truth and remain quiet, though he will withdraw and get quiet if he is not the focus-a behaviour that he uses to manipulate.
He inflates his own importance, I believe, because he has decided that he must dominate in order to no longer be a victim…but what I would want him to know is that there is also room for grace and transparency.
He doesn’t understand that when he humiliates others, watches as their body language changes in response, and still continues to hammer away at his agenda, that all of that fails miserably at what truth is supposed to be about and he is robbing himself as well as others.
And I am acutely aware of these behaviors and patterns because I used to behave just like him – I’m ashamed to admit.
When we own our story and seek to tell the unedited truth of who we are, it does not (it cannot) eclipse the stories others have to tell…there is always room for others, even in disagreement.
When we seek to empower ourselves by speaking our truth-no matter how ugly-it does not disempower others by making them feel like less. Our truth, when spoken in love, gives others the space and permission to be vulnerable and honest. It means that sometimes your silence is more “truth-full” and empowering than your words.
Truth is the blessing of freedom and release and peace.
When we speak our truth, we need to ask ourselves if we are truly creating a space that is empowering, gracious, and authentic.
If you are, then say what you need to say … lovingly.