Truthfulness is a principal that most would agree is a valuable and worthwhile virtue. Most courses of therapy challenge the client to engage in his/her true self and live out of that core in a truthful way. But the conversation takes a dramatic turn when truthfulness is pitted up against the truth. A lot of religions will espouse that the truth is the way to live, regardless of what ones individual truthfulness is or is not.

More often than not, what I’ve noticed is truth comes at the expense of being truthful. This is the stance of losing sight of what’s inside because the external is more robust and valuable. The pursuit of the truth (and this applies to issues beyond theology or spirituality) can lend itself to an biased way of living that places more emphasis on the external than the internal.

For some, when the external truth is more important (by their own doing, I might add), they begin to feel lost, flustered, and confused. Ultimately this leads to looking for external validation and rightness, which results in a constant state of deficit or need. There’s not enough external validation in the entire world to satisfy these needs. The internal truth, being truthful, is what needs focus and attention. This doesn’t mean that external truths don’t have merit or are at all times subordinate to internal wishes and desires, in fact it’s quite the opposite. It takes a lot of maturity, courage, and honesty to live life in exploring oneself — to be truthful.

A man considering marriage might say he doesn’t feel old enough to get married, even though he’s 28 years old. The truth, that adulthood comes sometime around the age of 18-21, is seen as more true (acceptable) than one being truthful about feeling inadequate about getting married. Saying it’s ridiculous to feel inadequate about getting married is not a truthful comment.

Being one who values truthfulness and truth means allowing for both the internal and external worlds to co-exist, letting neither become more important or more valuable than the other. Growth is enlarging the capacity for tension to exist — in this case, the internal and external truths that often conflict with one another.

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