Why telling the truth starts with you. Lessons from my year of truth-telling
This last year has been a journey of truth for me. It didn’t start out as an intentional stage I consciously stepped into. I can’t claim to be like Shonda Rhimes, with her decisive leap into a Year of Saying Yes, although that would make for a much better story. But story is something I’m trying to avoid because it has a tendency to prize entertainment over a simple account of just what happened.
No, there was no masterplan as to why truth-telling became something that was unfolding by itself but it did, in late summer of last year. And I find it amazing that 14 months on, I’m writing this article looking out to bright sky and infinite sea from my apartment in North Ibiza. It’s quite a leap from the urban, loud cityscape of the London start to this journey.
Let's be clear, I'm not about to reveal I was a pathological liar until that point. Quite the contrary. I am a great believer in honesty. Fairness is one of my core values. And I have a particular nouse for speaking the truth when it matters most. Courage is something I've always been able to call on when I need it. But the truth is a different thing to my truth. My truth is a little more complex because it means you have to be really honest with yourself, and that, my friend, is a lot more difficult to do.
Like many journeys that lead to wisdom, mine started when I felt broken. Really broken if I’m honest. I’d come out of the worst relationship ever and was struggling to find my foundations. I was carrying a lot of shame for how a strong, brown girl like me could let someone treat me so badly. And the stress impact of a toxic relationship on my adrenal system meant I felt weak in my body too. It was all going on. It was a tricky time.
But the human spirit of hope is a wonderful thing. And if there was a defining moment that started speaking the truth to myself, it was in deciding that I was going to make something good come of everything that had happened. So as the determined woman I am, I made a master plan and carted my lost-self off to therapy, with the brief – ‘I need to find my way back to my truth’. And it there it began.
Anyone who knows me will know that I'm not good with normal. So this was no standard therapist helping me back to myself. No this was someone I had specifically researched to help me on my best path back to myself. With his psychotherapy, energy healing, psychosynthesis, inter-generational trauma, coaching and entrepreneur credentials we were well on our way. When you're on a journey to realness, it's best not to mess about getting there.
Within a matter of weeks, we were in the middle of a truth-fest. And it was incredibly empowering, and surprisingly relieving. It was like we had all aspects of my life going by on a conveyer belt, and we were deciding what was going in the basket, what was going in the bin and what we needed to splash out on at the truth shop to really feel fulfilled. With this new lens of compassionate but brutal honesty about what was really serving me, I had new clarity on what my truth now, at this place in life. Now I had to start living it.
Over the course of the next nine months, the actions simply flowed. Looking back at them as a collection, they sound choreographed and strategically planned. But they were more spontaneous, they kind of appeared, it was hard to explain why I was doing them. It was a case of putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that I had to set off on a new more truthful chapter in life, where only realness could exist. They felt like things I had to do.
That’s how I ended up sitting my family down and talking to them about our relationships needing to evolve because I needed different things from them.
That’s how I found the courage to turn my back on the strong, black, woman persona engrained in me and start being vulnerable, not just in a crisis but in all aspects of my life.
That's how I was able to use truth to really strengthen my friendships. They were already great but now the connection is so much deeper. Which made it easy to cut out ones that were flaky.
That’s how I ended up in India, on a yoga teacher training course, because I knew the Indian connectedness and community would nourish my body and mind.
That’s how I found myself enrolling on a somatic coaching course because words can be empty, and the body doesn’t lie. I've long believed the body has the answers, now we live too much in our heads, and here I gained the science and practical tools to use this.
That’s how I found myself leaving a business partnership with no fixed plans for what was next because I knew in my heart it wasn’t right for me.
That’s how I made a plan to move to Ibiza, actually with nothing more than a strong instinct that this was going to be really good for me.
That's how I'm now stepping fully into life and the kind of projects I've been wanting for some time, with all the right people coming together seamlessly it seems. It's early days but I feel confident that I'm on the right path.
So, what have I learned from my year of living more truthfully?
Know your truth why. My journey unfolded because I had a vision for what I wanted and it made everything more meaningful, even if I couldn't find the words to give a rationale in the moment. Your why gives you conviction.
Trust your instinct. Listening to your body is the first step of living more truthfully. We often live only in our heads and it cuts off so much wisdom that could guide us.
Truth creates belonging. I’ve always been close to my family and friends but now the depth, richness, frequency of contact and honesty flows more freely and more meaningfully. It’s something I feel grateful for on a daily basis.
Vulnerability brings connection. At first, it feels scary, but it creates a space for others to support you, and that’s what creates the connection. Most impactfully for me, it gives new confidence to take risks from exactly where you are.
Truth gives you freedom. Because our ego is the enemy, so when you put down the labels and expectations we carry, you make space to hear your own truth. This was my dragon in many ways because there were truths I didn't really want to hear. But it is so liberating to not have to be anything other than true to yourself. The ego doesn’t completely go away, but it’s no longer steering the ship and that feels amazing.
It takes practice. I found that in quite a short space of time I got into the swing of difficult conversations, being able to raise things quickly, making swift decisions to keep me on the right path, and listening intently to my instinct and my body, which is es[ecially useful if I'm ever wavering or in a phase of self-doubt.
Realness is refreshing. When others see this quality in you, it inspires them. It makes amazing things happen because you get to meaningful conversation quickly. It helps you take more risks together because trust is quick to form. It makes you unafraid to explore possibilities. It brings relief that you’re speaking the unspoken.
Truth-telling is infectious! I love being around other truth-tellers. Ibiza is a mecca for truth seekers so there’s no shortage of them here. I think we are all drawn to truth-tellers because we all have a deep need to be seen and accepted for who we truly are. It just takes a few to normalise speaking our truths. In fact, it starts with just one and that could be you.
I hope this has given you food for thought about your own relationship with truth. It's something I passionately believe most of us need more of in life. Maybe in our private lives, and probably in our workplaces. But truth with ourselves first is key to growth because self-deceit is the biggest challenge of them all.