Resolve to tell the truth
№ 29 ☼ Truth ☼ Wisdom ☼ 2 minutes ☼ 539 words
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”
– Joan Didion / Slouching Towards Bethlehem
We typically gain wisdom by learning from mistakes we make or trials endured. Life clobbers you, and you discover something about yourself and how the world works. To learn from the events of life, it’s imperative to face reality and to live in it. You must see things as they are and say, “This happened, but I survived. How can I grow?” This examination of what happened and how you behaved enables you to become wiser.
Wisdom is how you learn to avoid self-inflicted calamity in the future. That is precisely why “we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be.” However, a familiarity with the past self is painful. It requires that you be mindful of things you’d rather forget. It will require that you take responsibility and that you change things about yourself that you don’t want to admit are real.
If you don’t change and continually turn a blind eye to the truth, you will be ruled by your ignorance. You will lose the opportunity to gain the necessary wisdom to avoid self-inflicted pain in the future. You will find yourself facing the same suffering again and again, and you will cause suffering for others, too.
I speak from personal experience.
I’ve known for a while that something must be wrong with me. My attitudes, actions, and addictions all point to something profoundly broken.
I let years slip away, stuck in a loop. My loved ones suffered because I would not manage myself. I wouldn’t face the truth.
Reality will not tolerate being ignored.
When I was faced with losing everything, I came to the point of surrender. I had to decide I was done causing so much suffering. So I’m fighting to reconcile my bipolar-type illness. I’m seeking help to manage my unhealthy behaviors. I’m facing reality.
By telling myself and others the truth as it is, not how I want it to be, I began to experience freedom from my pathological self-destruction and addictions. I finally began to heal.
That doesn’t mean everything worked out perfectly — it didn’t. Some things can never be repaired. It’s a terrible thing to admit your capacity to be monstrous and to own the consequences of your actions. But that is part of telling the truth. That doesn’t mean that telling the truth is all painful and bleak. It has provided me freedom and a new kind of hope for a future without fear and shame.
Perhaps you’re making new year’s resolutions. This is my encouragement to you:
Resolve to tell the truth.
If you want life to be peaceful and meaningful and if you want suffering to diminish, then that’s what it takes.
Say what you’re thinking and feeling, what you want and need. Admit what you’re afraid of and what you’re ashamed of. Don’t avoid looking at the unpleasant realities. Commit to having tough conversations. Own your past self so that you can fully commit to your future self.
As you take on the responsibility of living truthfully, you become wiser, more aware, more present, and you love and live more fully. Loving and living fully is essential to a good life.
Indeed, that is the point of life.
What a wonderful New Year's Resolution, Joel. In addition to telling the truth about our fears, needs, and anxieties, I believe it's important to tell the truth about our positive feelings. Many people keep those inside, too. I'll be writing about our genetically proven "negativity bias" in my January 17th newsletter. Here's to living fully in 2022. Blessings to you and your family.
Great stuff, Joel!