It seems that I, and I believe most of us, are plagued by a compromised tongue. There may be a truth we are feeling and wishing to express, but when we speak, we’ll couch it in terms that are more palatable to our receiving audience, or perhaps more harmfully, we’ll say what we think the other party wants to hear rather than what we believe ourselves to be true.
Here’s a simple example: When I’m going to go out to eat with someone, I almost always ask the other person what they want to eat, and once the other person says what they want, then I’ll usually agree to it. Not always certainly, but that’s generally how I operate. Is that a crime? No not really. In fact, it may show a compassion and a sensitivity to the other’s needs. But in my case I think there’s really a deference to the other rather than speaking my truth. When it comes to dinner choices, it’s not really that big a deal, but when it sprays over into the rest of your life and you find that perhaps you are not really going in the direction you want or getting what you want, then it’s much more of an issue. In a subtle way, I think we are often prone to giving our lives away, bit by bit, chisel strike by chisel strike by not being more forthright about what we feel or want.
The other day I was spending time with my girlfriend (or ex, I guess that’s part of what we were talking about) and I laid out quite clearly for me what I am looking for in a relationship. And for the first time that I can recall perhaps in my life (and perhaps not – my memory isn’t always that good), I stated it all very clearly without mincing a lot of words. Not in a mean way, but just in a truthful way, as best I know it. Such a liberation that is and was for me – not only within the relationship but also for me in my life in general since I was speaking what is true for me rather than trying to mold it around what may or may not be true for the other person. How wonderful it would be to be in a world where we all felt comfortable speaking our minds, simply as the truth that we know, while being completely receptive to whatever the other person is saying because it is their truth, which is never the same as ours. I say this last statement in terms of relationships rather than about statements of fact. We spend way too much time and energy arguing about statements of fact as if we really know the truth. What I’m talking about here is speaking the truth of the relationship and the truth of ourselves that is in our hearts. That’s what I want, and I believe what we all need.
So why is that so difficult at times? I think for almost all of us, we grow up in an environment where others (parents, older siblings, grandparents, teachers) exercise veto power over what we want, and they do so in neglect of our feelings. In such an environment, I think we learn quickly a communication style which weaves what we believe the other person wants together with what we want for ourselves. The result is a compromised tongue – one which molds our truth to our perceptions of others truths in our lives.
Something in me is getting a little tired of living that way, but it’s difficult, because I don’t think that many people are skilled enough or courageous enough to speak their truth nor do I think that very many people understand truthful communication to the point where they deep down honestly can be receptive to another’s truth, if it has any impact at all on themselves, or conflicts with how they want things to be.
So here we are. Can we sit (metaphorically) naked, eye to eye, and say the truth, the truth of what hurts, what we want, fear, desire, where we feel let down, neglected, unheard, why we feel we’ve given up, avoided, taken for granted, what the love, joy and hope feel like. And speak these words, not just in primarily relationship, but in all the relationships that we value. Can we even simply say to the other person that we value the relationship, or must we fear that they will read too much into even that statement.
So there. I miss the truth and I so cherish the moments when it shows up courageously, with its bright beacon of loving light helping to show the way.