I think it was leadership guru John Maxwell who first had this idea. I once heard him advise that hiring a camera operator for a day would be good if one wanted to know how they were doing. Just have the camera guy follow you around, catching everything on film. Yes, and then sit back that evening and watch it all unfold. What a great, thorough exercise that would be!
Truth and Love
I bring this up because I find our culture less and less honest. If one is to have intimacy or learn to become capable of it, one will need to figure out how to hang on to two things simultaneously: Truth—complete honesty, and love—complete acceptance and respect. As much as we all struggle with love, what about the truth? I find fewer and fewer of those I love and live with sharing the truth about me.
And how on earth can we stay sane and not float off into self-aware-less-ness unless we hear the truth as others see it from time to time? There are ways of weaving my views about myself into myself that can leave me high and dry as far as reality goes, and who will come to my aid if I’ve tuned out God and nobody has the guts to call me on the carpet for a minute?
Telling the Truth
Now I know telling the truth can be risky, especially if you’re sharing it with someone human and thus defensive. It is reasonable to assume that even the most honesty-starved among us will fight to hear something that doesn’t fit our fantasy of ourselves or our lives. Couple that with the fact that we hate being wrong (a sign of weakness, we think), and it’s no wonder we seldom hear what we need to.
Coming to terms with this a while back, I devised a great game plan for digging the truth out of those I love. It’s simple. I ask for letters. Those who love me see me more clearly in areas I’m too close to focus on. And though they may not be mature enough to share this without fear of rejection or tones of rejection—or some of both—I have found that all of us can (and I say I should) write truths down with pen and paper.
Truth in the Written Word
There’s something about the written word that calls forth more profound thoughts. Not only this, I can read their feedback with tears, laughter, embarrassment—whatever—and none of that is given any relevance. In the kindness of my privacy, I can take in and absorb feedback that might otherwise bounce right off my unhealthy obsession with how everyone else is and how I appear to them. Written words can be carried to that perfect place in time and consumed slowly and privately.
Having received a few letters to answer my desire for self-awareness, I can also say that writings by friends who love us can also take on a kind of personality all their own. More than once, there have been notes that started in one emotional galaxy and flowed seamlessly to another—not unlike the effects of journaling for one’s self. Sometimes there are things upon one’s heart that will never be exposed unless one writes freely. It’s huge. There are things a heart can feel that somehow articulate themselves when we scribble.
I dare you to try this. Double-dare. You, after all, deserve the truth.
If you liked this, you might also like Should I Always Tell the Truth?
Claire Worley writes from the Pacific Northwest.© 2002 - 2023, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.