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Writing things down is a good way to practice truth telling. You can write about a specific incident or experience you've had, either something recent or something that happened in the distant past. It doesn’t matter. Just do this for your own sake. Just do this to tell your own truth.
You could write about the break-up of a relationship or about an argument or a situation at work or about some misunderstanding with a family member. Try picking something very concrete and specific and write about what happened and how you experienced this situation and this person.
Writing these things down is much more revealing and liberating than we often think it will be. The important thing is to let yourself go – don't try to be calm or censor yourself or think you have to justify everything you think and feel. Just write down what you are really feeling and see what happens.
You don’t have to show this to anyone. This is just for you. And remember if you tell yourself the truth about how you feel, it doesn’t mean you have to act on it.
Writing a Letter to Someone
Another way to practice telling the truth is by writing a letter to someone. If you are sad or hurt or upset or angry about something that happened with another person (be it someone close or even just an acquaintance), you can write to the person and honestly say what you are thinking and feeling.
It can be a wonderful exercise, especially if you decide from the very beginning that you don't actually have to send your letter to this person. Knowing that you don’t actually have to send your letter will free you up enough so you can just write down the truth and tell what you are actually feeling for your own sake.
So start by writing this letter for your own sake. To tell your own truth so you can read the letter and so that you can hear it for yourself. This is a very good way to begin truth telling. Just do it for you. Just do it to tell and to hear your own truth.
You can always decide later if you actually want to send your letter to this person. And if you do, this is where constructive communications comes into the picture. If you do want to send your letter, do you really want to send this raw, uncut version or should you try to formulate your truth in a more diplomatic and skillful way?
Allowing the Emotions to Come Up
It takes some practice for most of us to, first of all, get in touch with what we actually think and feel about difficult situations or people in our lives and then secondly to actually write it down. But it's definitely worth the effort because it can be such a revealing, enlightening and liberating experience.
And finally, it’s important to remember that strong emotions may come up when you are writing your own truth. So it’s important to understand that this is part of the process of telling the truth and that it’s important to just allow and accept how you feel. Even if you get angry or want to cry or feel like stomping and stamping around the room. Just allow and accept whatever comes up to come up.
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Truth Telling for the More Seriously Challenged
If you are more seriously challenged or have serious issues (or if you are a therapist who is working with someone who is more seriously challenged), the first prerequisite for truth telling to someone else is the establishment of a feeling of trust and safety between you, the person who is seeking help, and the therapist. In order to be honest, you should feel, at the very minimum, a basic sense of safety in the therapist's presence. Moreover, you should hopefully feel that the therapist is there for you and respects you, regardless of what your story is. (This is especially important for people who have experienced some kind of trauma. In cases like this, the need for safety and respect is paramount.)
Now to the actual truth telling itself. Whatever it is you are asked about or want to talk about, it's important to understand that this is a process and that this can take time. Which means to begin with, just identifying what you want to talk about and then slowly telling what happened to you... and then eventually sharing these experiences in as much detail as possible.
Often in the beginning, when people are asked about something difficult or traumatic, they may say, "Oh I can't remember that." Or "I don't remember exactly what happened." Or "It's just one big blank." But this is almost never the case – regardless of how repressed or suppressed a memory may be, it is there. But people often do not have immediate access to the information (especially if it is traumatic.) But it is stored somewhere anyway.
By talking slowly and in detail about whatever little bits and pieces of information a person can remember, most people will slowly gain access to more and more information. Sometimes this happens very slowly and sometimes memories just come flooding back, it depends on who you are and on a multitude of factors including what the issue is/was and how long ago it happened or began.
In general, by delving slowly into details like, where were you, what were you wearing, what season of the year was it, who else was there, whatever you can remember... all these little bits of information will often help jog a person's ability to access more and more information. So it's an excellent strategy to go slowly in order to connect to more and more details.
The Tightly Packed Suitcase
I often say it's like you have a very tightly packed little suitcase that has been closed and locked for years and years. And now we're going to open it. At first when we open it, it's just a jumble of tightly packed old stuff that you don't recognize or understand. But if you unpack the suitcase very slowly and carefully, picking up one little item at a time and unfold it slowly, you will most likely be very surprised at what you discover. So take each item out of your little suitcase carefully and look at it slowly and consider it carefully from all sides. ]
This doesn't have to be done in one or two or three sessions; in fact it's probably better that it takes many sessions to look at and unpack the same event until you (or the person you are working with) reaches a point where some kind of clarity emerges for the person who is telling the truth.
A good therapist will probably ask questions like: "How did it feel?" Or "How did you feel about it at the time?" Or "How do you feel about it now?" And why? What was going on? What made you angry? Or sad? Or upset? Or frustrated? Or afraid?
The key here is always to allow whatever comes up to come up – and to then just acknowledge whatever actually does come up.
It is also important to understand that when you are telling the truth, powerful feelings and emotions can and do come up. When this happens, it is absolutely crucial to understand the importance of this and to understand that you must try to accept and allow these feelings to emerge – as much as possible.
A good therapist will always help you to understand that you shouldn't try to suppress these feelings or shut them down again, because that's probably what you have been doing most of your life. Therefore, when telling the truth, it's time for the opposite to happen. It's time to allow feelings to surface and emerge. And it's important to understand that these feelings are not dangerous. So the good therapist will most likely explain, over and over again, that yes, feelings can be very powerful and often unpleasant, but they are not dangerous.
Allowing and Accepting Feelings
So yes, feelings can be very unpleasant but they are not dangerous. Because the truth about feelings is the more we try to suppress them, the more powerful they become. But when we allow and accept our feelings, they arise, and maybe hang around for a little while and then they dissipate and disappear. Which is why the very best way to meet feelings is to "allow and accept" them. Just let them come up. Just sit with them. And remember there is no healing without feeling.
This is the key here. To keep reminding ourselves – when unpleasant emotions arise – that by resisting them and fighting against them (or trying to keep them locked away), the only thing that happens is that they gain energy and become more and more powerful. This is so important to understand – that by resisting them we are actually giving more energy to these feelings. Which makes them seem more powerful. And when this happens, we may then become afraid because we fear that these emotions will be so powerful that they will overwhelm us. Or we won't be able to handle them. But the reverse is actually true.
By allowing and accepting our feelings and emotions – regardless of how powerful they may seem in the moment – what really happens is they arise and dissipate and disappear by themselves. This is big news for most of us because so many of us have been programmed to fear our emotions. But when we learn to allow and accept our emotions, then the magic of healing can begin. Perhaps only slowly at first, but little by little, healing definitely begins.
But it is important to understand, this almost never happens all at once or only once. Working with feelings – allowing and accepting them – is an on-going process. That is why it is important to understand that feelings arise like waves on the ocean. They come and go and sometimes there are powerful waves. A really big wave may sweep over you but then it will pass and things will calm down again... and then another wave will probably come....
So again, the trick here is to allow and accept. Just allow and accept. Let the feelings come – like waves coming into the shore. Just allow them to arise – whatever they are. And keep reminding yourself over and over again that there can be no healing without feeling. And understand that it's not enough to just be mental and think and talk about what has happened.
The process only works when we allow ourselves to actually "feel" how we felt – whether it's grief, anger, rage, sadness, heartbreak, fear... whatever it is... just accept and allow these feelings to be there.
©2022 Barbara Berger. All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
Find and Follow Your Inner Compass
Find and Follow Your Inner Compass: Instant Guidance in an Age of Information Overload
by Barbara Berger.
In a time when we are bombarded from morning to evening with information from all sides as to what is best and what we should and shouldn't do to live happy lives, how can we navigate through this massive sea of information and know what's best for us in any given situation?
In this book, Barbara Berger maps out what the Inner Compass is and how we can read its signals. How do we use the Inner Compass in our daily lives, at work and in our relationships? What sabotages our ability to listen to and follow the Inner Compass? What do we do when the Inner Compass points us in a direction we believe other people will disapprove of? Find and follow your Inner Compass and experience more flow and joy in your life.
Click for more info or to order this book. Also available as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Barbara Berger has written over 15 self-empowerment books, including her international bestsellers "The Road to Power / Fast Food for the Soul" (published in 30 languages) and "Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life" (published in 21 languages). She is also the author of “The Awakening Human Being – A Guide to the Power of Mind” and “Find and Follow Your Inner Compass”. Her latest book, “Healthy Models for Relationships – The Basic Principles Behind Good Relationships” will be released in late 2022.
American-born, Barbara now lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to her books, she offers private sessions to individuals who wish to work intensely with her (in her office in Copenhagen or on Zoom, Skype and telephone for people who live far away from Copenhagen).
For more about Barbara Berger, see her website: www.beamteam.com