Some years ago I came to the realization that not being honest, misrepresenting one’s beliefs – lying - creates anxiety. As I examined my anxiety closely, it seemed that living with my hazy approach to honesty might be contributing to my own anxiety. One of the ways I chose to address this situation was to engage with Shamanic healing. As part of our work together my helpers suggested that I might think about taking a Vow of Truth.
I considered this path of embracing deep honesty to find relief from the anxious feelings I had experienced for so long, and because something powerful within me told me it was a healing way to live. Through meaningful conversation and introspection I came to believe that to speak the truth, as I knew it, and to the best of my ability, would make a difference. I took the Vow.
Wow, what a rocky road I embarked upon. I stumbled repeatedly. Those first years challenged me greatly. I was not always able to be truthful in all situations … but I kept getting closer. What I first learned was that I could no longer misrepresent myself or be dishonest without my mind/body letting me know, unequivocally, that I was breaking my sacred vow. Anxiety was an emotional and physical reminder that I was being unfaithful to myself. It became a true guardian to help me stay on track. It was a clear choice - truth or anxiety.
Unfortunately, because I had learned to live with the anxious feelings, there were times that I could overlook or override my inner guidance and found it easier to NOT be truthful, especially when fear was involved. And yet, with patience and the choice, I allowed the fearful feelings to simply be there. I have been able to live a more truthful life as I stood up to the fear. Sitting in stillness with my feelings, both comfortable and uncomfortable, along with the loving help of trusted others, I have gradually faced my fear of speaking my truth. Most of the time.
My life lesson in this is that many people do not want to hear the truth, even when they ask me for it: “Please tell me what you honestly think”, is what I might hear. Ultimately, this truth is not always wanted or welcome. The result of my truth-telling is … some people have not been happy with me.
As I have embraced speaking my truth, there have been times when I can feel disappointment, disapproval and rejection from others. Speaking from a place of honesty about my life and how I truthfully want to live has meant that at times I am clearly told that it is just too hard for others to comfortably hear what I am saying.
The result when this happens is that I feel terribly lonely and sad.
Gradually my life has seemed to become “smaller.“ At times I now get the urge to limit the frequency and depth of my conversations with the people I believe don’t want to hear my truth.
Unfortunately when I do this, withholding backfires and feeds the anxiety, creating more anxious feelings. I realized that what I am doing is avoiding people I care about and not allowing myself to have meaningful conversations in situations where I feel vulnerable. This had to stop. I didn’t, and don’t, want to behave this way.
Through sitting quietly and fearlessly with the feelings that arise, I breathe through the sadness as it bubbles up. Often the feelings expand into full-blown grief. This is teaching me that some kind of change is absolutely necessary. It has been a painful road, a difficult time in my life. I want to speak and not be afraid of others rejection.
Patiently sitting with my feelings has led me to realize that I have created illusions, false stories, about some of my relationships. Accepting that I did this brings another wave of painful feeling. Even though it was without intention, I have come to understand that I have not been truthful with myself. There is such heartache inside me - I mourn. The anxiety feelings ebb and flow in their ferocity.
What do I do? I want to be a person who speaks truthfully, not some chameleon who feels she has to shift and change to make others happy or to gain their approval. At the same time I don’t want to feel I am letting people down or causing them disappointment. Really (probably unrealistically), I want it all! To be able to speak honestly, to be loved, to be approved of and accepted, and to be known for what I truly believe. I am not sure that can happen with everyone, all the time. And so, for now, I am in the process of living my life truthfully and finding out what IS possible, learning with whom I can have deep, truthful conversations … or not … has helped.
Life seems so challenging at times. Occasionally I get stuck and feel somewhat paralyzed. The mornings are often the worst. I sometimes I start off feeling exhausted at just facing the day. There are times I feel as if I have lost what was dear to me. How do I continue to gracefully move forward until my “strength” returns? Will it ever? Carrying what feels like a burden, that of being truthful at all times, combined with the anxiety that can come with all of this is such a heavy weight to bear. In many ways I have had to relearn how to live. Yes, with all my life experience, wisdom and helping skills, I have had to learn how to live again.
Every single day I sit with whatever feelings arise.
In the past, weeks, months and years would go by and I wouldn’t know what to do with how I was feeling or even what the feelings meant. So I hid from them, ran from them and at times numbed out to them. Thus the anxiety found it’s home.
Now I am not afraid to sit with any and all of my feelings and let them wash through me. I have a faith that somehow, someway, the Truth will find it’s way in and dissolve this pain inside of me. Already Truth has freed me and brought me to a place that more closely resembles the life of honesty I want to live.
I believe that Truth can also lead me forward through the anxiety and to that life of inner peace I seek.