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 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.
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
“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.