I finally said it.

“I don’t want you to coach me any more. I don’t want your advice. I’m done with it. I’m going to do it my way from now on. You don’t get to tell me how I should do it any more.”

When it did come, I kind of blurted it out, the pressure had been building for two years.

Our business partnership was over.

We both got vulnerable. I was able to soften my rebelliousness. He was able to let go of his need for control. It opened us into a closeness that was only possible now we were separating.

I had spoken my truth. And a new chapter of my life begun.

Truth speaking, what is it?

It’s a horribly clichéd term for something powerfully beautiful.

It’s saying what’s true in your heart. It’s saying something that feels risky. It’s saying something and not knowing what’s going to happen next.

It’s saying something that disrupts normality.

I remember those powerful moments when I spoke something I’d been reluctant to share. I’d been trying to avert the nightmare in my head by not saying it. I remember the sense of deep relaxation as the final echo of my words vanished into the moment just passed.

It’s out.

It’s not mine to leash any longer.

God will take it from here.

It’s a practice

It’s a spiritual practice – discovering yourself through sharing your vulnerable experience.

It’s a business practice – revealing who you are to those you can serve.

It’s a powerful practice – one that can revolutionize your life and work.

It’s also a practice that, like any practice, can be misunderstood.

What we believe to be ‘our truth’ is not always true. What we believe to be authentic, is not always authentic.

Here are four key distinctions that will help you avoid the traps of speaking your truth.

1. Opening or Closing

My friend Lisa first taught me this – will your share open or close people?

The trap is thinking you can share whatever you want in service of authenticity.

Will this open their heart, expand their mind or show them something more of what is possible? Will this expand their state, have them feel more, desire more, experience more?

Or will this contract them, shrink them, close them? Will it trigger a state of anxiety, or defensiveness? Will they walk away from your share feeling less of the world, and less of themselves?

Yes. It’s your truth. But are you conscious of the impact it will have on people you care about?

You’re in the midst of a bout of existential depression and anxiety. Everything seems pointless, you seem pointless, your work looks completely meaningless. In a moment of lonely desperation, you tweet it to all your followers and clients.

“What’s the point? Life is a joke. Don’t want to do any of this shit anymore. Thinking I’ll close down my business.”

Is it true? Maybe.

Have you opened them? Probably not.

You probably freaked them out, and compromised your business and work.

Are you conscious of the hearts of those you speak to? Can you feel them? Can you tune into where they are, how they are? Will this serve them? Will this open them or close them?

Are you conscious of even making that judgement call?

Truth speaking is not saying whatever the hell you want to whoever the hell you want, and expecting everything to turn out authentically.

It’s a conscious act. You’re conscious of your heart, and their heart, and the connection between you, as you open your mouth, and say what’s there.

2. Covert Neediness

You say it like you’re just ‘speaking your experience’, all the while you’re actually hoping for people to meet the needs you haven’t actually confessed to having.

Maybe you need them to commiserate with you and tell you they love you.

Maybe you need them to congratulate you and tell you how amazing you are.

Maybe you need some advice.

You’re secretly hoping they’ll meet your needs, but you haven’t admitted it to yourself, or them, and it ends up giving your share this weird, creepy or disingenuous feel.

It’s like those weird incomplete facebook posts.

“Wow. It’s amazing. I never thought this would happen.”

And then hopefully someone takes the bait asks what happened, and you get to have that need for attention and confirmation met.

Except it feels covert, and unowned. And weird. Because it is.

If you need something, own it.

I saw a beautiful facebook post from someone recently. She’s a very successful coach and trainer. She was having a really hard time, really struggling. She shared what was going on, very honestly and vulnerably, and asked people to express some love toward her.

Hundreds responded.

3. Opinion dressed as truth

“You didn’t do what you said you would. That’s why your business is not growing like you want. I feel like you’re unprofessional, and it’s never going to change. You should get a job instead. I know this might feel hurtful, but it’s just my truth.”

No it’s not. It’s your opinion.

Opinions are powerful, when you share them truthfully, which means sharing them as opinions.

“You didn’t do what you said you would. I’m deeply questioning whether you actually want to grow this business of yours.”

Too often, we throw out our assessments and analyses inside this box of ‘our truth’ which actually just squeezes truth out of the connection.

When I offer my opinion as truth, I leave no room for your truth.

“I hear you. I do really want this business. But I think I’m following a strategy that just doesn’t fit with my deeper vision. And I’ve felt ashamed about that.”

Opinions are not true. But they are true opinions.

4. Vulnerability not vomit

Brene Brown says vulnerability without boundaries is not vulnerability.

I agree. I think its vomit.

It’s throwing up your unprocessed thoughts, feelings and stuff all over other people, without context or consciousness, and expecting them to sort the chunks of importance from the chaff of confusion.

It’s unpleasant to receive.

Sometimes our relationship to reality can get messy. And we don’t know how to make sense of it, or connect with it. Sometimes it feels good to splurge. It helps. My woman does it regularly. It helps her get it out of her system, and feel herself again.

But don’t confuse vomiting for vulnerable truth.

You’re on the phone with a client. They just asked you how you are.

“Oh man. I’m feeling kind of funky this morning. I was up late last night. I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I was rocking out on pot, porn and pistachios. I just don’t know how to kick these addictions, you know? Psshhht. To be honest, I’d rather not be doing this call now. I feel pretty shitty. But hey ho, here we are. How are you?”

What you say may be true, but it’s not appropriate.

Vomit is not vulnerability.

Vulnerability is conscious. Vulnerability is choosing to share something you’d rather not, while maintaining conscious connection with the person or people you’re sharing with.

Vomit is not even really noticing who’s in front of you, and just throwing up your undigested material all over their awkwardness.

Your truth is real

Rilke said…

“Near here is a land they call life,
You’ll know when you arrive by how real it is.”

Truth is like life. It’s so real that those who hear it are moved by it, opened by it, enlarged by it.

Are you being real? Or are you hiding behind ‘the truth’?

Your heart always knows.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ewan Townhead

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you're interested further in my work, you can find out more about me here, and my coaching here.

Join the conversation

  1. Avatar

    Dear Ewan,

    Really good post… Very powerful and very real. I’ve ‘lived’ some of these experiences, it seems, and have felt the depth of what you are speaking.

    Don’t know if you are familiar with the Map of Consciousness of Dr. David Hawkins. It’s based on a lot of research and I’ve found it very authentic, real and accurate. It’s the kind of thing that you can ‘test’ with how it is showing up in your life…

    Anyway, the far-left column is called “God-View”. And then all of the way ‘down’ the map, it shows the way it (God or TRUTH, I feel could also fit here) is perceived…depending on one’s state (or state if Wilber’s map) of consciousness.

    What I’m ‘getting at’ is that there is ‘capital T’ TRUTH (which probably only a very rare percentage of people on the planet are capable of know…maybe Sri Aurobindo’s SupraMind would be an example) and then there are all of the different ‘perceptions’ of ‘small t’ truth.

    You did a great job of putting all of this into easy-to-read, accessible language! Of course, that’s your Gift of Genius when you speak from your heart.

    In gratitude for all that you are and do,
    Marj

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Whoops… I met ‘stage’ when I mentioned Wilber, not ‘state’…!

      Reply
    • Ewan Townhead

      Thanks Marj.

      No, I don’t know his work – just had a quick Google. Looks far out. It’s reminding me of the ‘truth claims’ that Wilber used to speak about too. Different types of ‘truth’ have different ‘tests’ to determine their validity.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Ken Wilber,

        reading a book by him atm; A brief history of everything, Interesting read,
        So far given me a different perspective of what a natural hierarchy (he calls it holarchy) actually is.

        yet to read the rest,

        anyways, just wanted to say that point 3 points out the point I tried to make on FB last time 😀
        do have to say your writing is (in my opinion 😀 ) more elegant than mine.

        good artikle

        Reply
        • Ewan Townhead

          Reading Wilber changed my life in my 20s. I’ll forever feel gratitude for his work.

          Yes, I totally get that’s what you were saying, now the “everyone’s coming after my libertarian politics” filter has softened 😉

          Reply
  2. Avatar

    To tell the truth. It is actually very hard to see through our bias and perspectives. I love the way you talk about holding your consciousness with the other as only then can your truth resonate and land with the other so that the other can respond and meet you at a collective consciousness.

    Reply
    • Ewan Townhead

      Yes. Impossible I’d say. There’s always a filter, and there’s always one who’s identified with the filter. I’ve been realizing recently how crucial holding connection is for the increase in truth.

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Great post as usual Ewan. Really well articulated what most of us feel but can’t put into words. Keep it going (is my opinion) 🙂

    Reply
    • Ewan Townhead

      Thank you sir 🙂

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    Have you ever looked into the 5 qualities of “Right Speech” taught by the Buddha?

    He said things should be:

    1) true not untrue
    2) beneficial not harmful
    3) spoken with gentle words not harsh words
    4) spoken with a feeling of loving kindness
    5) timely not untimely

    Reply
    • Ewan Townhead

      Can’t go much wrong with those huh? What a wise chap that man was.

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    Ewan,

    I read this twice and I am still sitting with it so I can get a sense of how it plays out for me in my business life.

    I have felt disconnected in the past when it comes to “work” like it lives in a hermetically sealed container and the real me does not go there.

    Well now the real me is looking for ways to have business be an extension of who I am in the here and now and to see and sense the other person not solely as a client, but as a human being as well.

    Great post really challenged me to look at some of the ways I am showing up.

    Thanks bro.

    Max

    Reply
    • Ewan Townhead

      I feel you brother. Business will prefer you the human being in there too. It will go better, and be more fun. Love ya.

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    Ouch!! In my face and so true!
    Thanks for this artikel… for me it’s really something to think about…
    X Yana

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    Dear Ewan,

    Thanks for sharing something that needed my attention. I noticed that right after finishing the books “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Radical Honesty” last week I started to freak out some people. I still do, and your Blog has been well received by me.

    So my vulnerability needs clear boundaries, as I am not the empath I envision myself to be.

    But how to set those boundaries? Here is my process, opinions or insights (usually a mixture of those three, let’s just call it POI) that I would like your POI on:

    Step plan (albeit a continuous process)

    1 – I better check in with myself, how does my body respond? Is the heart is open I am sharing from love/ wisdom, or do I feel a contraction in my body and am I sharing from egoic need to react or to get valiation. If I am not contracted then go to 2. If I am contracted then be very aware of it and then go to 2 (with that awareness) or just conduct the shit out of what you experience…

    2 – I then tune in with the recipient. Can I envisage the other being served, opened by what I am bound to say or will the other not be ready, willing and able. Then I ask if the other wants to hear my POI? If the other says yes go to 3.

    3 – Tune my consciousness outward, allow the little me to drop away while feeling the space around me. Also allow the other to blend in with the space, so the sharing neither becomes about me nor the other. Take a deep breath towards your belly and allow the things to be said, through you, not by you.

    4 – Listen to your body and to the other, as if it is the very first time you hear something.

    This would be my POI, which is actually a continuous process as long as I maintain discipline and awareness. The problem is I forget and then I chase my story lines, convictions and reactions to the surroundings, making it harder and harder to cut it off…

    Looking forward to pick your brain on the work in progress above.

    Cheers and Hugs,

    Edmar

    Reply
    • Ewan Townhead

      Edmar,

      So glad the article helped clarify some things for you.

      Your process sounds rigorous! Is it working for you? If so, then I’d say my opinion probably doesn’t matter.

      Ewan

      Reply

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