“Do I need to lose weight?” I asked my Mom last September.
“You are in no way ‘overweight,’ but I think you could probably lose fifteen pounds,” she told me. “I think you’ll be happier if you tone up, cut back on wine, and stop eating out every night.”
At first, that hurt. But I knew my Mom was right. And deep down, I appreciated her honesty and clear direction. I felt like I could trust her more. She could have said, out of a desire to reassure me, “No baby, you’re beautiful just the way you are.” Instead, she told me the truth. Since then, I’ve improved my diet, begun working with a personal trainer, and I’m no longer drinking. Now, I feel healthier and happier. Her truth was a catalyst for positive change in my life.
Truth can also be a catalyst for growth.
A few years ago, I learned that a guy friend was in love with me. I told him that I didn’t feel the same way and just wanted to be friends. But that was a lie. The truth was that I was afraid of damaging our connection and losing him if the romance didn’t work out. Apparently, I wasn’t ready to confront this fact about myself—and my willingness to lie allowed me to continue this pattern for a few years. If I would have told the truth—that I was afraid of losing him—it may have sparked a conversation that brought us closer together.
A few years later, I was given the chance to find out what happens when you live your truth, no matter how scary it feels.
After I moved to Boulder last November, I started developing feelings for someone I was spending a lot of time with. He was in a long-distance relationship and so I repressed my feelings and continued to explore the friendship and our incredible working dynamic. For a while, I lied to myself and others about my true feelings because I didn’t want to create awkwardness or conflict. I was afraid of how being honest might change things. It got to a point, however, when I began feeling a moral dilemma. He also started noticing a distance between us. This created an internal battle. I wondered, “Should I openly share with him the truth and risk damaging our connection? Or, will sharing with him actually provide an opportunity for greater depth?” I decided to tell him everything. Even though he wasn’t on the same page with his feelings for me, it provoked an incredibly powerful conversation, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I felt immense happiness for facing my fear and we made a pact to always be “radically honest” with each other. This has had a tremendous impact on our friendship.
With honesty, there is unlimited potential for growth. You do not question whether or not someone is saying what they mean. You know they will say the same thing to your face as they will behind your back. And even when it’s challenging, you know they’ll tell you when something you’ve said or done has rubbed them the wrong way. Knowing you’ll tell the truth, no matter the circumstances, makes life more simple. There is nothing to prepare for. We can simply be ourselves.
By following a single mantra in life—Do not lie—we avoid embarrassment, wasted time, and social awkwardness. We create stronger relationships founded on trust. We uphold our authenticity and our integrity. We grow and help others grow too.
The next time you’re confronted with the opportunity to tell a white lie, think about the point of view of the other person. Would you feel betrayed if the roles were reversed? Will telling them the truth provide an opportunity for greater depth in your relationship? Will it help you and them grow?
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