3 Principles for Living the Truth
There’s something magical that happens when you live in alignment with the Truth. Most of us live for ourselves—lying to ourselves and/or others in order to satisfy our immediate needs and assuage our petty fears. But when you dedicate yourself to the Truth, you synchronize yourself with something more expansive—a force that is greater than yourself, existed before you were born, and will continue after you pass away.
When this happens, your life becomes full of meaning. You also experience a burst of energy like you’ve never felt before. You may not realize it, but it’s exhausting to fight the Truth—a force with otherworldly power. Once you surrender to the Truth, all of the energy you wasted trying to reject it becomes available for you; you feel motivated to expand your life.
So what does it take to live in alignment with the Truth? These three principles are a good place to start.
PRINCIPLE 1: THE TRUTH IS A FORCE, NOT A THOUGHT
“Just one more cookie/episode/drink/hit tonight. I’ll start limiting myself tomorrow.”
How many times have you said something like this to yourself, or even out loud to a friend or partner? While you may feel sincere in the moment, this kind of proclamation is a false substitute for the real Truth.
How do you know? Because when tomorrow comes and you find yourself in the same place, making the same resolution, you realize you were lying to yourself.
You’ve fallen for one of Part X’s tricks: convincing yourself that thinking something makes it true. But when you use the tools enough times, the Truth becomes something much more powerful than words. It becomes an undeniable force thundering powerfully through your whole being. That’s why we say we are “struck by the truth” or “it finally hit me.”
The false version is stripped of this dynamism and feels demoralizing and defeating. Do you really believe yourself when you say you won’t indulge tomorrow? Probably not. But you want to believe it, so it’s easy to let yourself be fooled that thinking it is enough to make it true.
PRINCIPLE 2: THE TRUTH HURTS
Part X has a powerful ally in getting you to fool yourself: when you experience Truth as a force, it hurts. In fact, we tell our patients, “If it doesn’t hurt, you’re probably still lying to yourself.”
The Truth is merciless, holding up a mirror that shows you who you are without regard to who you wish you were. You said you wanted to eat better but you haven’t and now you have health problems. You vowed to drink less but you didn’t and now your children are asking you to seek help. Deep down you know you have a problem and it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable to admit it to yourself and others. The Truth forces your identity to expand to encompass the bad as well as the good, which is beneficial … but painful.
This exercise will give you a preview of the kind of pain you’re in for when you face the Truth, so you’ll be prepared to handle it:
- Think about an area of life where you might be lying to yourself. Maybe you’ve promised to do something and you keep putting it off. Maybe you put all the blame on the other person whenever you have a fight with them. Maybe you’ve deluded yourself into believing your spouse (or someone close to you) was working on themselves when in fact they’re not.
- Now close your eyes and imagine accepting the Truth. You have failed yourself and others by not delivering on your promises. You’ve failed to take responsibility for your part in escalating rather than diminishing conflict between you and someone else. Your spouse isn’t doing the work they said they were doing.
- Don’t minimize or run away from this Truth. Instead, face it; let it sink in. What does it feel like?
The pain you just experienced is what you feel when you accept the Truth—a force that burns through you, forcing you to accept a reality you’ve rejected or rationalized away. We avoid this pain because human beings are naturally lazy and avoidant. But to truly move forward in life, you must accept the pain of whatever the Truth shows you.
PRINCIPLE 3: TRUTH REQUIRES ONGOING ACTION
There’s one more way you can differentiate the Truth from Part X’s false version. The fake version is a one-time thing—you say it (“I’ll never have another drink again”), and you think you’re done. You think that just because you’ve made the declaration you’re really going to stick to it.
But for the Truth to be real, it has to become an ongoing practice. Part X will continue offering you false truths (“One more won’t hurt…you need to burn off steam…you deserve this”). That means you have to expect to continue to take action that is contrary to these rationalizations. If you do this over time, you’ll feel a sense of integrity you’ve never experienced before.
Try this exercise:
- Go back to the personal Truth you identified in the last exercise. You’ve failed to deliver on your promises. You’ve denied responsibility for your role in conflicts. Someone close to you says he’s working on himself, but he really isn’t.
- Identify a few specific action steps you could take that would be consistent with that Truth. You could fulfill one of the promises you’ve made right now. You could apologize to someone you’ve fought with. You might tell the person who says he’s trying to change that you’re beginning to feel hopeless it’ll ever happen.
- Now imagine taking those steps, and others as they occur to you, as the weeks, months, and years stretch into the future. Imagine doing whatever it takes to live in alignment with the Truth, over a long period of time. See if you get an intimation of the kind of person you become. Focus on how you’d be different on the inside. What would it feel like to be this new “you”? This is the “you” who can live in alignment with the Truth for the rest of your life—in service to something greater than yourself.
Part X will not stop trying to get you to lie to yourself. But the stronger your relationship with the Truth is, the more easily you’ll be able to see through those lies. In fact, many of our patients reach the point where they look forward to catching Part X in the act of lying. They know that whatever the lie is, there are life-expanding opportunities waiting to be uncovered underneath.
This is the second of a series of three posts on Truth. Read the first article, The Truth About the Truth, and the final article, A Case Study in Truth. Additionally, you can read more about Truth in Chapter 7 of Coming Alive.