What Happens When You Tell The Truth…

By , August 21, 2010 8:18 pm

I’m finding it really hard to find a way to tell the truth and let John know how I really feel about the situation. I’m torn between letting him know and not hurting his feelings. If I tell him – it hurts him. If I don’t tell him – it hurts me! I feel really bad about the whole thing.”

Jenny, Coaching Client

Most of us feel uncomfortable in situations where we have to tell the truth. The easier option is to avoid it.


Because we are afraid of the potential outcome or response:

  • Hurting the other person’s feelings
  • Letting someone down
  • The risk of being on the receiving end of someone’s anger or aggression
  • Because we might be judged or perceived in a different way than we were before

Here’s an observation…

What we are actually trying to do here is protect ourselves from the dis-comfort of our own feelings of how we might feel when they react.

So we believe that withholding the truth is helping them.

Wouldn’t you rather know the truth?

Telling the truth is so valuable yet hard for us to do when we feel uncomfortable. Instead, we hold back our own true feelings to the detriment of ourselves. We ‘water-down’ our response or avoid the situation altogether and allow the hurting to become internalised.

The longer you avoid the situation more energy is used to withhold the truth, keep up the act and pretend that everything is okay. This is hard work to maintain.

Withholding doesn’t work because the truth will always find a way out eventually. The longer you avoid the situation the more pain you will create for everyone involved. I know this from experience in my own life. It actually makes things worse!

Here’s what happens when you tell the truth…

  • Freedom -You release energy and get to share your true feelings
  • Authenticity – You’re being true to yourself from the inside – out
  • Reality – You become closer to the person you have told the truth to because they get to understand your reality of the situation. You can then deal with the situation based on that reality  (you’re not wriggling and avoiding the reality!)
  • Less Pain – You don’t hurt their feelings by lying, acting, pretending or withholding
  • Integrity – You get to keep your own!
  • Clarity – People know where they stand with you

Being truthful is an important habit to develop if you want to live on purpose and be successful.

I can’t make the uncomfortable feelings go away and I can’t guarantee a positive reaction from the other person. But I know that being truthful is the right thing to do if you want to lead a successful and authentic life.

And finally…

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything!’

Mark Twain

7 Responses to “What Happens When You Tell The Truth…”

  1. Roger says:

    I agree. While the truth maybe uncomfortable initially, there is no substitute for it. Great post Elaine. Insightful as always, thank you.

  2. Tammy Vitale says:

    Elaine – well said! and: the truth! =]

  3. OMG. This is so good. I made the resolution not too long ago to stop apologizing for “crimes and misdemeanors” I never remembered committing to a certain family member. It has been hard, after my teaching this person for decades that I would be her emotional floor mat, not to continue playing that game. But I wouldn’t trade the confidence I’ve gained for anything in this world. Thanks, my friend, for the reminder of how the truth really does set us free!

  4. Rachelle says:

    This is great Elaine! I have had this conversation so many times! I so agree with you and the truth is, truth can be very hard… so rewarding too – it can create more intimacy than previously thought possible 🙂

  5. elaine says:

    Thanks so much everyone for your comments here this is such hard thing for people to do sometimes.I know about this from person experience too in an unhealthy relationship where the truth was left unsaid for a long time because of fear.

    David asked this question on FB so I thought I’d answer it here:

    “A genuine question – do you mean your truth? And if so, how would you position it as your truth? Also, would you tell your truth only if asked or would you tell your truth uninvited. This challenged my thinking today – thank you :-)”

    Yes I mean here my truth. This could be many things such as I don’t want to do something,something is not working for me, I feel uncomfortable or feedback from my observations and perceptions of a situation.For me it’s about honesty and integrity.It’s about getting things in the open to talk about that may feel uncomfortable, but need to be said to help move things forward or to make a change.

    I would position it as how I see the situation and what I believe to be true from what I know and understand. I’m working from my truth.I’m being authentic and not covering up what I really want to say. I would say it with consideration and compassion for the other person.

    I guess it would always depend on the situation – though if by not saying something, I’m feeling uncomfortable and risk being untruthful to the other person then I would look to be honest and open even if uninvited.

    I believe that successful people get around to telling the truth quicker. The longer things are left unsaid the ‘sticker’ and unhealthy things can become.

  6. elaine says:

    The big learn for me was around telling the truth faster and not being afraid of the consequences so that things can be dealt with from a basis in reality – the way things are and not from a place of avoidance.

    Avoidance often leads to a breakdown in communication. Whereas sharing the truth allows discussion. Important information is aired, shared and acted upon.

    Here’s how I see it: ‘the truth can really set you free.’

  7. roger says:

    I think you’ve hit this on the head.
    Truth can very often be from one’s own perspective, so communication alongside this allows it to be aired from everybodys perspective.
    I too have found this from past relationships.
    Thankfully I have found that honesty, truth and communication have allowed me to have a relationship far stronger and deeper than before.
    It’s better “out there” and talked about than not.

    Thank you

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