What Does it Mean to “Face Your Truth?”
Hmmm… this is more than a BIG can of worms, it’s like a vat of creepy-crawlers in the basement! But one thing I can tell you for sure is that before you FACE your truth, you have to be able to distinguish your truth from everyone else’s. That task begins with lots of listening, some critical thinking, loads of patience, and one more thing… the creation of your very own voice recognition app. But you won’t be running the app on your computer or your cell phone — it’ll be installed to run automatically inside your head!
Once you get the app going, things will get a lot easier, but let’s start at the beginning. To hear your truth, you must first put aside all the other voices babbling in your head that belong to people YOU are NOT — friends, family, community, experts, teachers, gurus, priests, politicians, your boss. Then listen closely to detect the voice that belongs solely to you. This sounds easier than it is, especially if you are like I was, and have no practice differentiating the sources of the word speak constantly swirling around your mind.
Listen for what may be a small, timid voice, expressed in a tone you are not accustomed to prioritizing. Your voice will say things that have that “ring of truth.” Mine brings tears to my eyes, and will often make me reflexively put my hand over my heart. Keep in mind that when you do recognize your voice, you will hear all sorts of things, some good, some bad, and yes, some ugly. This voice is the one you may often feel you have to stifle to fit in, feel normal, be liked, and avoid creating waves.
My voice has said things like:
- I didn’t want to go to that party; I only went for him…
- I don’t want this job — it makes me feel bad inside.
- Please just let me sleep all day.
- Why shouldn’t I buy myself flowers on Valentine’s Day?
- That woman makes me sick! I can’t smile at her one more time.
- I can’t do this anymore…
It will take time and practice to recognize the different voices you hear, and at first, you may be inclined to believe all the voices are your own, but I can virtually guarantee that won’t be true. I have a good friend who calls these NOT-YOU voices “The Board.” When you first begin to listen, divide, and classify the voices, a good first step is to distinguish between what you perceive as your voice versus all the others on The Board. Later you can divide out different members of The Board as you begin to clarify whose voices you are hearing, why they are in your head, and where they originated.
One method I’ve found very helpful for evaluating The Board is journaling. When I was in my early thirties and going through a lot of personal and professional drama, the voices were many, loud and annoying. They would second guess my decisions, make me doubt my relationships, and destroy my ability to determine the best course of action for my future. Back then I didn’t call them The Board, I just knew I couldn’t hear my own voice amongst all the ruckus in my head, and I started journaling to get the words out onto paper. Writing things down seemed to quiet the voices, and re-reading the thoughts later made it easier to see that I didn’t really BELIEVE all these things rattling around up there.
These were ideas, philosophies, and beliefs of others; over time it became easier to determine the origin voices. I had a lot of dad-thoughts in my head, leftover from childhood, and a bunch of ideas and beliefs born from my cultural and socioeconomic background. I also became aware that some thoughts or ideas integral to the voice I recognize as my own originated outside of me… either from a teacher, a book, a movie, or the like. This is OK; it’s quite normal… everything comes from somewhere. But over time we must decide for ourselves if each of these unique voices is true to the individual we have become, are becoming, or want to be in the future.
I’ve been firing members of The Board for years, but it’s a funny thing about Board Members — sometimes they loiter long after they’re welcome, sometimes they lie dormant and get re-triggered based on circumstance, and once in a while we get complacent and re-hire them! And another thing- I find new members join The Board without so much as an invitation, so you’ve gotta build that voice recognition app with an Alert-Mode, to notify you on hearing a NOT-YOU voice.
Regarding this software, I suggest starting slowly. Again, focus on hearing your true voice first. Set the voice recognition app to ID that voice and alert you to any other. Later you can update the app to recognize individual voices you’ve identified as part of The Board, and then create folders to store the voices not your own. You can examine them for an origin story, past purposes, and future value. Eventually, you can put them in the archives, or delete them outright. And of course, you can continue tweaking the software over time as needed, and fire any or all of The Board members as you see fit. After all, they are YOUR Board!
Facing your truth will inevitably bring up issues you’d rather keep in the closet. But I can tell you from personal experience that being afraid to open your closet door causes its own forms of discomfort and anxiety. Whatever truths arise, the best choice is to be patient, listen to your own voice, even if it is hard to hear, and embrace the part of you that is struggling to be heard. Give her basketfuls of self-compassion, plenty of couch-time, and don’t feel obliged to share her with anyone else until you are good and ready! Finally, when you’re ready, I encourage you to make lots of waves, the kind novice surfers ride and those for the big kahunas! It is quite exhilarating to let your truth out, even if you instinctually clap your hand over your mouth afterward. Believe me, this reflex will expire over time.