Most of us had the experience in childhood of being told that truth was not welcome and we lived with the contradiction of being told ‘thou shalt not lie’ and the experiencing most of the adults around us doing just that – telling lies and being inauthentic. This caused an inner conflict in which the thing we were told was bad was in fact required if we were to keep the peace and not ruffle feathers.
This conditioning taught us that to be authentic and honest could lead to love being withdrawn and to rejection. Therefore, what we learnt was that to be open and honest leads to be being wounded. This in turn has led many of us to believe that if we express incomplete truths or even hide the truth of our feelings that we will in some way be able to control others. When we do not live in truth we are either being controlled or are attempting to control others.
There is a longstanding historical taboo against the truth. In generations gone by when the emphasis of religion was placed on the dissemination of moral codes instead of spiritual sustenance, the reality of human needs and behaviour was suppressed. Hence the proliferation of secrets and habitual withholding of truth as a way of life. Telling the truth could not only lead to being banished, treated as an outcast, but at certain times even to loss of life.
Living from the inside out calls upon us to be more authentic, day by day and to meeting the reality that the control we believe that we may have through expressing half-truths is an illusion. However, many of us struggle with knowing the difference between speaking our truth and expressing an opinion. As the personal development, self-help and healing movement has flourished in the past two decades, ‘speaking my truth’ has become a de facto badge of honour to signify that we’re living a more authentic life. But is it? What does it really mean?
Most of us have made the error of ‘speaking my truth’ when in fact what is pouring out of our mouths is a set of opinions couched in spiritual or therapeutic terms in order to disguise the true nature of its source. So how can we know when we are living from the inside out and speaking the truth?
Truth always emanates from the heart and it is as intimate as it is vulnerable. When we speak the truth we must also be willing to see, feel, hear and embrace the absolute truth present in any moment – whether that moment is solitary or shared in intimate exchange. Truth telling takes us to the edge of vulnerability and on into surrendering to what it truly present – we must be willing to allow truth to reveal each and every place within us that we seek to hide and keep concealed. We must also be willing to allow the other, the world at large, not to appreciate or to even like us.
Truth requires vulnerability and it requires us not only to relinquish control but to see the reality that we never had control in the first place. We have absolutely no control over who like us or who loves us. As social beings we fear being cast out more than most things and will often go to great lengths to ‘keep the peace’ and to remain ‘accepted’, however, at what cost? All of us, whether or not it is conscious, are seeking the freedom to love and to be loved. It may have its distortions as we get wrapped up in believing that love will come in the form of one special person, but ultimately, each of us desires to return to the innocence of childhood and the unbridled love for anyone and everyone we felt in those tender years. Almost all of what we’ve become has been learnt from our environment or has been taught us. None of us were born sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, against this or that religion or nation – it has all been taught to us directly or indirectly. Growing up we either had to fully realise the insanity of the adults around us and continue to feel very unsafe in a world that rejected our capacity to live in truth, or we had to mimic adult behaviour, start hiding from ourselves and conform. We chose the latter out of a need to survive.
As adults we now look at our world and wonder how it is that we are to be at peace in a seemingly insane and unsafe world. Whilst there is little to nothing we can do to control matters in the world at large – as we perceive reality as it is, we see that the entire world is living from an inauthentic place lacking in personal truth. All of the madness is based on trying to control others and the avoidance of vulnerability. In reality we only have influence over our own lives, we only have the ability to engender peace with ourselves.
When we live from the inside out we start to liberate our heart from the shackles of bondage to everything that inauthentic that we’ve constructed around it. What must be realised is that our very avoidance of pain is the cause of our suffering. We avoid pain at all costs, we daren’t speak the truth of our feelings as we fear rejection and the withholding of love. However, in doing that we suffer. As we avoid pain we prolong our suffering. Living an inauthentic life is the foundation of suffering and when we choose to be vulnerable we opt for long term suffering as a choice less and less.
Signs and Symptoms
Here are the most common ways in which we hide from ourselves:
– Allowing ourselves to be continually disrespected and choosing submission to preserve a friendship or relationship (intimate, colleague, friendship, parental)
– Not expressing our needs
– Settling for unfulfilling work and career
– Keeping the ‘Status Quo’
– Keeping up appearances
– Making ourselves ‘wrong’ all the time
– Remaining in a marriage or long term relationship because it is ‘comfortable’ although unfulfilling
– Clinging onto stories of what or who was wrong instead of facing our hidden feelings
– Clinging onto images of what we ‘should’ be, do or become instead of meeting what is truly present
– Succumbing to perfectionism
– Living from a place of Self Deprecation
– Keeping ourselves small so as not to offend or upset others
– Living from Blame
The wound of being reprimanded and punished for speaking truth as a young child has remained deeply buried for many of us. We fear that what is inside us is neither welcome nor good and even worse, that what may be inside of us is bad.
Living from the inside out takes courage – we need to hunger for the truth of who we are more than we want to attempt to control others or life.
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