The Truth Shall Set You Free

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” ~Buddha

Do you have a secret?

Are you holding something inside that you are afraid to admit to others — or maybe even acknowledge fully to yourself?

A secret, a hidden or repressed truth, is like a parasitic worm eating you up from the inside out. Eventually the truth wins — but at what cost?

Guilt, shame, and pretense almost always manifest in physical illness, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or some other painful expression of repression or lying.

You don't have to have committed a heinous crime to experience the pain of a secret life. (Although I've often wondered why guilty murderers keep proclaiming their innocence when they've been sentenced. Holding that secret must be tormenting.)

Just compromising our integrity or living an inauthentic life is enough to chafe at one's soul. We frantically seek relief from the emptiness and heartache of a “secret” self by any means possible — drinking, over-spending, over-working, etc.

Pretending to be someone you're not, living a lie, telling lies, or withholding a portion of the truth, will surely prevent you from living a full and happy life — but only always.

Why is it so hard to be honest with ourselves and others, even though we know the importance of the truth? Most of us were raised on lessons of truth, and yet we learn quickly that lying seems more convenient or expedient. And we keep lying until our noses grow longer than the lie itself.

Small children are great barometers of the truth and can smell adult lies a mile away.

We might think we are deceiving them, but we aren't. And most children can't cope with lying themselves. I've watched my own children's faces twist in guilt and anxiety while they steadfastly proclaim they absolutely did not eat that cookie before dinner.

Sadly, children are only imitating what they see many adults doing either overtly or covertly. Lies, lies, everywhere are lies. The truth gets lost behind our fears, ego, and pride.

Today I heard an interview that Oprah did many years ago with Ellen DeGeneres. It was right after Ellen came out as a lesbian. She was discussing the years when she was afraid to admit to herself and others that she was gay — and her extreme pain in living a false life. I've heard many gay people tell this same story, especially years ago when being gay was much less accepted.

Being honest about who you are can be a terrifying prospect, especially when you might face rejection, shaming, or even threats to your livelihood or safety. But living a lie can become even more terrifying.

At some point you realize you can no longer bear the shackles of a secret. At some point, you accept that only the truth can set you free, regardless of the consequences.

If you are holding on to a secret . . .

If you are living a lie . . .

If you are stepping outside of your integrity . . .

If you are repressing a reality . . .

If you are turning your head or burying it in the sand . . .

If you are pretending to be something you are not . . .

If you are glossing over the facts . . .

I encourage you to step out into the sunshine of the truth, and let the truth set you free.

Yes, it may mean you are embarrassed.

It may mean you feel some shame.

It may mean you are rejected by some.

It may mean you have to make a change.

It may mean you are punished.

But . . . the flood of relief with the truth will wash away so much of the pain.

And quite often, the truth is not as scary or awful as you perceived it to be. Quite often, the truth leads you to something better, so much better, than you are experiencing right now.

So how does one go about embracing the truth if you've lived weeks, months, or years of lies or secrets?

When you've become ingrained in your lie, sustained by your secret, or fooled by your false self, how do you even recognize the truth and begin to invite it into your life?

Much depends on the depth and breadth of your secret.

It takes much more work to address and heal a deeply-held, long time falsehood than it does to admit cheating on a test or taking the last cookie. But every slate of un-truth, even the small ones, should be wiped clean so you can live in freedom and peaceful contentment.

Here are some ideas that might help:

  • If you have told a lie and just reading this makes one pop into your head, then it's time to fess up. Even if the lie is very old, tell the truth and apologize fully. Go beyond that and make it right. If the truth will deeply wound another person, then speak with a counselor or other helping professional about whether or not it's best to come clean. If not, then express your remorse and the truth to your counselor.
  • If you are living a lie by pretending to be someone or something that you are not, then it is past time to fully acknowledge and embrace who you really are. If you don't know who you are, then start finding out. Begin to ask yourself questions about what you do and don't like about your life, what feels authentic and what feels false, what makes you happy and energized and what depletes you. Rarely does sustained happiness come from a life chasing materialism and ego satisfaction.
  • If you are repressing something, it's time to let it come to the surface and deal with it. We repress things because we are frightened, but repressed feelings will bubble up in the form of illness, anxiety, and depression. Find a counselor or trusted friend with whom you feel safe to discuss long buried feelings or secrets. Shine the light of truth on them so you can heal and thrive.
  • If you are cheating or taking advantage of people or yourself by withholding the truth, telling the partial truth, or glossing over the truth, that can be just as harmful as telling an outright lie. It's sneaky and underhanded and will erode your self-respect. Examine where you might be telling half-truths to yourself or others. Open all of the doors and windows of your integrity so the cool breeze of truth can flow through easily.
  • Know when to lie. There are some circumstances in life that require us to withhold the truth or even tell a lie. This might be to protect a child or another loved one from harm or hurt. Or it might be create a surprise or special moment for someone. Examine your intentions with these “white lies” to ensure the outcome truly merits the deceit. Put yourself in the other person's position and ask yourself if you would want or need the truth in the situation. Rarely does deceiving yourself serve any positive purpose. The truth will emerge in spite of your best attempts to quell it.

One universal truth cannot be ignored: the truth will always emerge.

It might emerge through the back door, battered and trembling. Or it can shine forth by our own courageous intentions. It is often a choice between the brief and sharp pain of self-awareness and bold honesty or the lingering and debilitating dull ache of deception.

Rip the band-aid off quickly so that once the sting has abated, you can bask in the peace of an honest life. Let the truth set you free to embrace all of the fullness and joy of authentic living.

What has been your experience with the truth setting you free?

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Comments

  1. Yes I am agree with you that one universal truth cannot be ignored: the truth will always emerge As you have said that;, it may mean you are embarrassed.

    It may mean you feel some shame.

    It may mean you are rejected by some.

    It may mean you have to make a change.

    It may mean you are punished. but we must be ready to face the truth.And I always try to do the same.Its benefit is that nobody can dare misuse you,cheat you insult you.Really a good blog.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I am so glad it resonated with you Sushma. We certainly save ourselves a lot of time and trouble by embracing the truth, don’t we?

  2. Congratulations ! BARRIE DAVENPORT, for the wonderful post. It is Soooo Enlightening.
    “Truth always triumph” i.e. SATYAMEV JAITEY/ Truth always Win.
    Wish to share with you “The 4-H Philosophy” .
    One can attain anything in life simply by practicing this philosophy derived from the lives of successful people around the globe to lead a happy,healthy fulfilled & Successful life since all the achievers believe in this Philosophy.
    To elaborate further for your better understanding of the concept-
    * If you are Honest with yourself then only you can be honest with rest of the world.
    * If you are honest then only you can be Happy.
    * If you are happy then only you can be Healthy.
    *And to stay always Happy, Healthy, Wealthy & Wise , you must seek Help and ready to Help others genuinely.
    In other words- YOU MUST FOLLOW THE 4-H Philosophy i.e Happy, Healthy, Helping Others, Honestly under all circumstances in your life to set your self free from any kind of negativity and Ready to receive anything you desire.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Prabhat,
      I love the 4-H Philosophy! Thank you so much for sharing it. There is so much truth in it, and it’s so easy to remember. One “H” does lead to another as you point out. Honesty is the key to many positive outcomes in our lives.

  3. Many thanks Barrie…

    Doggone it anyway, your posts cause us to think, think, and rethink lots of stuff that maybe we’d just as soon forget! Our ability (as human-types) to go into a state of denial of some of life’s unpleasant experiences is not usually a very healthy place to be.

    Alcoholism, depression (mental illness), and deceitfulness come to mind. We can delude ourselves into denying these conditions… but for how long? Until we allow ourselves and others IN on the existence of these very human frailties, we will probably fall way short of achieving any kind of real happiness.

    All the best,

    Jon

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Ah Jon — sometimes bold living requires touching a nerve! I hope it didn’t sting too badly. ­čÖé Thank you for being such a kind and regular supporter of my writing. I really appreciate all of your thoughtful comments.

  4. Habari ya asubuhi, Barrie. (good morning)
    Your posts are always powerful but today’s exceeds them all. People say that every human being has a unique story in their head. If we were all to tell everything, I believe the world would take a dramatic change-for the better and in some instances the worst. I heard this quote in a certain movie; ‘you can live with a lie but the truth will kill you.’ Imagine a partner who convinced his/her spouse that they were virgins at the time of their starting life together. Then years down the line one pours out his/her heart about the number of children (now living in the streets) he had fathered and refused responsibility or the wife turning around and telling her husband about the several abortions she had had prior to their marriage. In such situations I believe it would be more prudent to use discernment and weigh the possible reaction from those invilved. I agree with you that if such issues are weighing somebody down, it would be better to use a third party- a counsellor or (for those who believe) Jesus or God or whoever or whatever they are persuaded to believe in. Personally I would avoid Dr. Phil live! Some skeletons should safely be left in the closets or even an extra padlock being added to the existing one.
    Uwe na siku njema (have a good day)
    Murigi

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Murigi,
      You bring up some thought-provoking scenarios. Some situations are extremely complicated. But I still believe the truth finds its way out. If someone begins a relationship or marriage with lies, then the marriage doesn’t have a solid foundation. The lies will seep through and poison the relationship in some way. I agree that “we all have a story” — and that sometimes that story doesn’t need to be shared. But if you are setting yourself up for even deeper pain in the future, I think coming clean is the only way. Most good people have an inherent respect for honesty, integrity, and the desire for forgiveness. Some scenarios are so delicate that it really requires the help of a professional — and I agree, Dr. Phil wouldn’t be the best choice! ­čÖé
      Uwe na siku njema to you Murigi!

  5. sophia Fernandes says:

    Dear Barrie
    Many thanks for revealing to me personally that only truth will set me free……ultimate happiness and blissful life is the outcome of this fact.
    i am going to dwell in it and find meaning to face the truth…..accepting my limitation and finding support system to revive my spirit. your post is a wonderful source of inspiration to derive strength and courage. so Barrie i walk with courage to take the first step which involves a change in me, i still ponder on your previous post on living a blissful life which has a connectivity in facing the truth.

  6. Dear Barrie,
    One of my truths is that I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for quite some time and just never felt it was important enough to let you know how much I appreciate your work. However, I know from personal experience how much an unexpected “thank you” means. So, Thank You! Thank you for being who you are and sharing your gifts and experiences with everyone in your path, and even with those whom are not as vocal with their gratitude for you.
    With love and respect,
    Ces

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Wow Ces — you have made my day! Yes, an unexpected “thank you” is one of the greatest gifts I can receive. I am so glad to know that I have made some small positive impact on your life. Thank YOU for being a reader and for expressing this to me. It means the world. ­čÖé

  7. There are so many reasons that keep people locked up within themselves and you have hit the big three reasons. I believe some people are fearful of looking into their emotions and feelings to find what is underneath. They rather live with the fear than self-knowledge. Well, I am here to tell you, the truth is what will set you free—and you will life a happier and more fulfilling life because of it. The first time you investigate a fear—you may want to withdraw back into your secret—but keep investigating—because you will find that you are made of love and from love.

    Yes, you cannot meet everyone’s expectations, but who can? I believe it is best to live your truth and add you voice, your creativity to this world. Be authentic, kind, and patient with yourself as you release yourself into the light of day.

  8. Barrie,

    Whoa – I just published a post on this topic today, sooooo similar to your thoughts here. I like how you’ve put it out there and agree with Jon Sollie that your writing hits a nerve – and it’s good. We have to dig if we want health and happiness. I love the 4-H philosophy, how brilliantly simple. Honesty comes first, then the healing.

    Thank you!

    Linda

  9. lies, deceit, truth…
    my wife had an affair from 1992 – 1994.
    she had a second affair from 1995 – 2000.
    i found out in 2011 and cry every day… sometimes i cry two or three times daily
    i am SO deeply disappointed in my wife