To what extent are you living your truth? To what extent are you speaking your truth?
The second of the ten principles for living happy as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras is TRUTH, or Satya in Sanskrit.
We’ve generally been told from a young age that it’s not right to tell lies and we know what it feels like inside when we hide behind a lie. Some are bigger than others. Some are more elaborate than others. Remember the John Darwin case, an English man who faked his own disappearance at sea, in order for his wife to claim life insurance?
Considering the work of governments and multi-national companies, I wonder if we don’t even live in a world where lying is actually more the accepted norm than truth telling???
At an individual level, perhaps we all like to tell ourselves that a little ‘white’ lie now and then is not so bad. It makes me think of the comical film Liar Liar starring Jim Carrey!
So why is ‘Truth’ so important for happiness? Let’s break it down in two parts: what we say and what we do.
WHAT WE SAY
The first key aspect of ‘Satya’ relates to what we say. Quite a lot of what comes out of our mouths each day is imagination, supposition, exaggeration, judgement, and perhaps even lies. We say a lot of things that we don’t know to be true.
Take a look at some examples of what we might easily say out loud, and then what might actually be the truth behind those words:
|What we say:||What is true:|
|“My boss thinks he knows everything. He never listens to me”.||“I am feeling useless and disempowered. I would like my boss to listen to my ideas.”|
|“You have been single for too long, you have too many criteria for a Mr. Perfect.”||“The idea of being single and alone scares me. I am worried that you feel this way.”|
|“The Swiss are so conservative and rule-oriented.”||“I am finding the Swiss culture different to my own and difficult to understand.”|
|“I can’t do that, I will fail.”||“I am afraid to do that in case I fail.”|
|“I can’t leave my girlfriend as she won’t be able to cope.”||“I am afraid of hurting my girlfriend and feeling guilty and helpless.”|
Do you get the picture?
This is called ‘right speech’ or ‘non-violent communication’. We each have our own truth. Instead of projecting onto you my own perspective of the world, or my fears and judgements, I am telling you what I am feeling and experiencing in this moment. Of course I also use my discernment to choose my words so as not to deliberately harm the other person (linking back to principle 1: non-harming / compassion).
We spend so much time making up covers and defending our ego! It’s a bit like the plot of a movie. What a lot of wasted energy!! If we commit to only speak what we know to be true, and take responsibility for this, then we give other people the opportunity to respond according to their own truths. Ah, imagine the potential this has for living authentic relationships and dealing with issues before they get blown out of proportion.
Practical Tip! Try it out today: reflect on what you say and notice to what extent you are actually speaking the truth! Notice as well the reaction you get from people when you speak your truth.
WHAT WE DO
The second aspect of living your truth is ‘walking the talk’ so-to-speak, or following your heart’s desire and inner wisdom in what you DO. Renowned and inspirational yoga teacher Donna Farhi, in her book Yoga Mind Body and Spirit, captures well the challenge in this:
“Confusion and mistrust of our inner values can make it difficult to know the nature of our heart’s desire, but even when we become clear enough to recognise what truth means for us, we may lack the courage and conviction to live our truth”.
Speaking and living your truth means knowing what you feel and what you want!! What a massive challenge when we are bombarded with advertising and media which like to tell us what to feel and do. What a massive challenge with so much desire and temptation, and a mind that attaches to one sensation one day, and another the next.
The solution is mindfulness. You absolutely need to make sense of what you value and what you want, and take full responsibility for this!! No-one else can tell you what it is you want (although many will try). Its like Maggie (Julia Roberts) in the movie ‘Runaway Bride’, who doesn’t know what way she likes her eggs in the morning so she chooses the preference of each future husband!!
It doesn’t mean having a fully detailed life plan worked out, but it does mean living consciously, making conscious choices about what you do. And it does mean having the courage to trust and follow your inner wisdom.
I recommend watching Larry Smith’s provocative TED talk on “Why you will fail to have a great career”. The majority of people will not follow their heart’s desire because they are afraid to fail.
The truth hurts……. perhaps, but it leads to inner peace
Does all of this mean living selflishly? No, I don’t believe it does. I believe that in living our own truth we will naturally come together in our most humane and real form. Living my truth means living authentically and revealing myself to you. In loving and honouring myself, I am deeply loving and honouring you. In living my truth, I am empowering you to live and express your truth.
I admit the truth is not always convenient. It may require leaving a toxic relationship or work environment, earning less money, admitting you are wrong or not meeting someone’s expectations. Going against the grain is hard and destabilizing. It can hurt when others do not understand your perspective or feel let down. It is hard too to accept our own weaknesses, fears and shadow side. We need to also develop our tolerance and compassion for others.
But, here’s the key….
IT IS RIGHT WHEN YOU FEEL A DEEP SENSE OF PEACE WITHIN
Practical Tip! Reflect on what you DO today: before you act, consider whether it is really what YOU want to do and is right for you at this moment.
Post-script – in writing this blog I endeavor to write from my truth, drawing on my own experience. Of course I may falter sometimes, or even many times, due to the habit of projecting my own perspective and judgements on the world. I apologise in advance and invite you to call me on it.