The Truth WILL Set You Free

October 15th, 2012

Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes, your knees buckle, and the earth trembles beneath you. You will be okay. In fact you will be better than okay. Stand by your principles, and the truth will set you free. How? You will like yourself much more this way, and your confidence will show. You will be freed from taking responsibility for other peoples’ reactions, free from needing to be liked, free to expand your mind and life in every direction. Maybe best of all, authenticity creates its own momentum and pretty soon your voice stops shaking and your knees stop knocking and all you hear from the earth is her quiet encouragement to “keep going”.

Sure, there are costs to speaking your truth. And sure, there are more and less effective ways of speaking your mind. But if you do it skillfully and for the right reasons, and let go of controlling the outcomes, the truth will catapult you into a life of blue sky freedom.

It’s one of the best known phrases in the Bible and the motto for many schools, “The truth will set you free.” The ancient Greek word for truth is alétheia. It means “not hidden” or beyond appearance. It’s the word that most closely corresponds to modern phrases, coming out, living authentically, and expressing yourself.

This sort of truth is less about being right in any technical or absolute sense and more about being authentic and transparent. It’s about revealing the essential nature of who you are. You can forgive poor elocution, clumsy grammar and rough edges  for the sake of passion. You can’t make up for a lack of passion with even the most careful crafted argument.

There’s something magical about telling your story. I love the scene at the end of The Help. Abilene came to a major realization as she walked away from the baby she had raised, with the baby screaming for her to come back. The voice over says,

God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.

The look on her face at that point is the look of freedom; like a weight had lifted. She realized she would be a writer and tell her story. Most of us don’t square off in presidential debates or suffer under the weight of 1960’s southern racism. But we ALL have things to come out about, and authenticity is a lifelong process. It’s a lifelong task to hone and sharpen your truth like a knife and then use it to cut through the superficial pretense of conformity. Popularity and status quo and external expectations don’t hold a torch to the light that authenticity shines, and the freedom is exquisite. Life is too short and there is too much joy in authentic freedom to mess around even for a second being anything other than who you are.

Does authenticity come with any guarantees? No. You don’t know how others will react, or exactly what it’s going to mean for you, and you might want to give people a heads up that change is coming. But trust them, no, trust yourself. Authenticity is irresistible, and breeds copy cat acts of truthfulness. Marianne Williamson was so right, “Your authentic presence will automatically liberate others.”

Come out in some way, large or small, today. Do it for yourself, to experience what it really is to be alive. And do it for the world, because you have no idea how needed your truth may be. Do it, even if it scares you.

As fire brand feminist, Naomi Wolf, said,

Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.

The next article looks at tough truths that are hard to handle.

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  1. “Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes, your knees buckle, and the earth trembles beneath you.”
    The great thing is that once we *start* speaking, our voice does get stronger and we empower ourselves :)
    Great feeling!
    Very liberating :) Thanks for this Ian.

  2. Great image for working thru the fear of speaking with authenticity. The more we hide from ourselves the less we become, so stepping out with the courage to say what we mean — exactly what we mean — without hedging builds trust in others and in ourselves. We may create more conflict, but the conflict was there to begin with and we were simply hiding from it. It’s so much better to deal with our truths out front.

    In my experience, every time I’ve spoken with the passion of my beliefs it has gotten me closer to what I really want. It often extends the conversation and sometimes in situations where I’m uncomfortable to be communicating, but those moments of courage and persistence are better for everyone concerned.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!
     

  3. [...] Many of us have to overcome negative experiences, or more to the point negative and critical self image, to truly find our voice. You know when you haven’t found it because you still hear the echo of ancient fear haunting your words. Words get stuck in your throat, or have to battle to get past your tongue, to claim their freedom. When you find it, it’s like a bird that finds an open window after being trapped in a house. This when the truth sets you free. [...]

  4. Erica says:

    Thank-you for this!

  5. I love this line: “Maybe best of all, authenticity creates its own momentum and pretty soon your voice stops shaking and your knees stop knocking and all you hear from the earth is her quiet encouragement to “keep going”.” 

    This post reminded me so much of Mary Oliver’s fabulous poem, The Journey. In it, she talks about how you have to stop listening to everyone else’s voice and listen to your own so you can move on in the direction you want your life to go. Part of that, of course, is telling the truth to people even if they don’t want to hear it. 

    Thanks for the reminder. :) 

  6. Yvonne L says:

    I can agree somewhat …. Yet, many of someones personal ‘Truth’ is merely an opinion, and often poses a mis-match to someone else’s ‘Truth’. I am speaking from personal experience, which had brought me into a life situation where someone else projected their ‘truth’ about me and it was false, unjust, and it lead in to separation …. “When you speak ‘your truth’ make sure you name it by what it really is …. I think = my opinion, I feel = my fears, my doubts, my resentments, my anger, my frustration (pointing-out the negatively felt aspect in all this, since when we feel good, happy and positive we usually don’t hold back but simply make our statements with joy – no problem involved and usually no-one is offended by it either!) Most of all live authentic and through your individual personality by standing strong within yourself. That in itself will help you to feel truthful from within, which eliminates almost all the frustration that so many people feel and go through in every-day life. ~ Peace

  7. daniela says:

    me encantó!

  8. ian says:

    thank you Daniela

  9. K says:

    Someone I love & trust posted this link, so I knew I had to read it! And it is EXACTLY what I needed! Thank you, Ian!

  10. Muriel Rose says:

    #Speak the truth and speak it evver cost it what it will. He who hides the wrong he did does the wrong thing stiil

  11. reg says:

    thanks Iangreat article 

  12. Bharathan Rajaram says:

    Hi, I’m @batbrat from twitter, commenting on your blog for the first time. This post really spoke to me, especially as I’m contemplating the principles and values that I stand by. I’m also reading, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families,” right now, and connect even more strongly with your message for it. Thank you.

  13. Lori paterno says:

    Sometimes there is fear about being authentic because it often does make you stand out and it can lead to feeling a little isolated.   It is usually temporary, but it is a reason people are afraid to leave the pack.   I think you have to have faith that being authentic will eventually lead you to the right people.