How many of us feel like we can be 100% honest with our family? If you answer yes, I’m going to bet you’re bullsh*tting yourself.
Most of us put on some kind of mask, or false persona when we get around our parents, siblings and relatives.
Now, I don’t say these words to make you feel bad, of course. You should know almost all of us struggle with the truth of our identity when it comes to our families. We grew up with these people, right? They’re the folks that should know us the best. Yet, when we go home we often feel we need to downplay our feelings, hold back, or put up a front.
We may also experience a return to who we were as a child. Patterns we felt we’d overcome or put behind us come rushing back when we get around mom and dad. Suddenly we’re a little 5 or 6-year-old.
If we were rebellious, we might find we jump into the pattern of being the smart-aleck, the bad-boy or girl, or intentionally play up our rebellion. Maybe you choose a dress to show off your tattoo or lean back in your chair and put your feet on the table; actions that, as adults, we would probably rethink in other situations creep out when we’re back on our old stomping grounds.
Perhaps you were the good child, eager to please, quick to swoop in and care for everyone else. When you get around your parents you’d never do anything to tarnish your halo or let them think you were anything other than perfect, right?
You see, the holidays and returning home for a visit tend to dredge up all of this “stuff.” It causes these feelings to surface. We may feel like we’re regressing, and any personal growth work we’ve focused on is for naught.
So, what can we do to operate in truth this holiday season and spur on our momentum in the new year? What can we do to be genuine, sincere and true to ourselves in all we do? How can we use this truth to strengthen our connections and engage with our loved ones on a deeper level?
To embrace, reveal to others and be free to live your truth, we must first understand what truth is.
We may think, “I know who I am,” but who we are is ever changing. Our truth today might not look like our truth from years past, or even from yesterday.
Truth is more than factuality; it is a personal journey to increasingly discern and show the truth of you experience to your highest vision, to the best of your ability. When you embrace this concept, you learn to tell increasingly potent, deep truth—helping you develop into your fullest self…learn to express truth and become more genuine and real.
Aligning to truth means that you are not rationalizing. Rationalizations are abstractions we make up to justify our behavior. Most of us have pat answers for why we do what we do or superficial explanations for our behavior. We remain unconscious to what is really going on and are unwilling or unable to frankly assess and report on our actions, behaviors and motivations.
As we grow in our commitment to truth, our vision changes and we are able to discern and express more and more truths. We are able to go beyond our shallow excuses and knee-jerk explanations, we seek and give more conscious responses that reflect more truth.
The journey of truth is personal for everyone. Over time it can include having no secrets from your spouse becoming less defensive, having and increasing sense of integrity. It can mean that you feel more genuine and real, that you reduce lying and withholding information, that you develop honest friendships with straight feedback.
–The One Decision
Our relationship with our family members is an integral part of exploring and living your truth. Many of us grew up in families of secrets. For many of us, honest talk with our families is off limits. There may have been times of joy and happiness. There may have been areas of encouragement and growth, but there are also areas that are off-limits when it comes to our families. How many of us know we just don’t “go there”?
Part of embracing and living your truth means giving voice to your feelings. It’s our responsibility to express our truth directly and honestly with others. If we want to deepen our connection—to truly understand others and be understood—we must approach it from a place of honesty and truth.
Now, this might mean rocking the boat. It might mean letting your parents know when they piss you off, or letting your sister know you refuse to fall into the drama triangle with her this year.
But speaking your truth doesn’t always need to involve direct confrontation and conflict (although conflict is a healthy part of relationship building). Truth simply means deliberate, responsible communication. It means viewing your feelings as valid and worthy of being expressed.
How many of us grew up in households where it wasn’t okay to be affectionate? Maybe we “know” our parents or siblings love us, but we aren’t the kind of family who expresses our feelings about each other.
For some families, this kind of emotional vulnerability is even more challenging than letting them know when they hurt your feelings or make you frustrated. Speaking the truth about what you truly appreciate about your family (even if it’s simply that they gave you life) is a powerful and profound experience.
If your family interaction veers into dramatic territory of guilt, shame, blame, victimhood and rescuing, it’s fine to step back and refuse to take part. The important part is to express your truth. Let them know, this year you’d like to take a different approach. You’re not going to take part in dramatic games and charades. You appreciate them for giving you life and being part of your life, but you want to operate in honesty this holiday.
It’s also fine to let your family know there are items to address later, but during your holiday get-together you choose instead to focus on your appreciation, hopes and wishes for each person. Take charge of your situation and choose to create an atmosphere of peace and love.
There is great power in honesty.
The more you embrace and face the truth, the more power you have. The more truth and power, the more you can serve the world. Truth unlocks you power and allows you to align more powerfully with others. It allows you to become your highest self and partner with others more deeply. At the Institute we have a culture of truth where students can get straight feedback on their strengths and weaknesses—what is facilitating their quest for MORE and what is blocking it. In your life, in your world right now, you can seek to establish a culture of truth around you, where you give and receive feedback and your communications are powerfully honest. That is the freedom of truth.
–The One Decision
This holiday season, embrace truth in all your interactions. Aim for positive intentions to connect with and appreciate those around you. Enjoy a holiday of more vibrancy, more light, more joy and truth.
Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.