Telling yourself the truth

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Many people have a great “BS” meter when they are with other people; they can just

“sniff out” someone who is not being honest, not telling the truth. But fewer of us are conscientious enough to call “BS” on ourselves.

It’s referred to as cognitive dissonance in the psychology world - the state of having inconsistent thoughts and beliefs, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude changes. Basically, we lie to ourselves.

What does that look like on an average day? Something like this response when someone asks how you are doing: “Great!” When you are not doing great. Or responding: “It’s okay.” When someone is late, says something that hurts you, or doesn’t follow through with something they said they would do, when it is absolutely not okay.

The words form quickly on your lips and your voice box propels the sound out of your mouth - but it doesn’t end there. Those words you just spoke are now traveling into your own ears and making their way to your brain. Once your brain receives what you just said, it’s like, “liar, liar pants on fire,” you are not doing great, it is not okay.

Neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf describes this process of cognitive dissonance as causing actual brain damage. Your brain can simply not handle you lying to yourself. (Check out Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, “Switch on Your Brain” and her podcast).

At our very core, we were created to live honestly. Psalm 51:6 says, “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts.” Living a lie on the outside causes a myriad of natural problems. Living a lie on the inside causes devastation in our emotional and spiritual lives.

Have you personally known someone who “‘recreated” themselves? They were one person for years, and then all of a sudden, they decide they want to be someone else, live a different life, retell their story on their terms. And, from the outside, maybe it appeared that they were successful. Look at that! They changed their name, changed their friends, changed their MO, changed their beliefs and they seem to be doing just fine.

But it’s a house of cards. Their new and improved life is on terribly shaky ground and is in danger of collapsing at the slightest wind. Think of a favorite childhood nursery rhyme, The Three Little Piggies. When we take shortcuts, when we don’t build on a solid, truthful foundation, one little huff, one little puff, and our houses will blow down.

Living honestly, being truthful with yourself is a more challenging road day-to-day, but the long term dividends are enormously beneficial. We call “BS” on ourselves, and we grow. We tell our friends and family how we are really doing (which they may not want to hear) and we progress a little forward instead of staying on a virtual habi-trail of dysfunction and surface niceties.

We integrate our outside selves with our inside selves. They can live in harmony. They can actually work together to create health and abundance in every area of our lives. Honesty and humility are the best of friends.

Speaking the truth with love and care is so much more effective than with anger and hurt. When you tell yourself the truth, it enhances the community around you. How? You begin to be more honest in your communication with others. Dishonesty, (lying) is the cause of so many broken relationships. It breaks trust, which disrupts intimacy, leading to resentment.

In short, the truth sets us free to love ourselves and love others, deeply, from our hearts. Here’s to life and love and the pursuit of doing them both with a little more honesty.

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