Oprah’s declaration haunted me well into Tuesday. Not because it was so spot on, but because it felt off. Sure if speaking one’s truth means owning your true nature and living without shame, I’m all for it.
But isn’t that living a truth?
Speaking one’s truth means articulating what is true for you. And that’s not always appropriate. If I spoke my truth all the time the “powerful tool” I’d get would be a tire iron to the skull.
When it comes to truth-speaking, the real tool is discretion. Or timing. Or delivery. Or tact. Or maybe it’s not speaking at all. Maybe that tool is knowing when to shut up. To that point, last week Kiana posted this cry for help on my site:
Lisi, how do I know when to draw the line between being honest and sounding like a complete jerk?
A lot of people take my honesty really offensively and think I’m trying to bash them. For example, I was out at dinner recently and some acquaintances asked me if I liked the dish they were having. I told them it looked disgusting. Apparently I was “indirectly” insulting them on purpose…
Kiana, my friend, I can relate. For decades, sass and raw honesty were my cards and I played them often. When I did, I got laughs and assumed everyone knew I was joking. After all, I would never intentionally hurt anyone. Truly. I wrote the Clique series because I loathe brats and bullies, not because I worship them. So imagine my surprise when I hurt someone’s feelings. Forget it. Don’t imagine it. Just trust me when I tell you. I was SURPRISED (yep, the all-caps kind).
I’ve since learned to temper my truth. Not to live a lie–GAWD no–but to ask myself if speaking up will do more harm than good. Meaning: if you say someone’s food looks disgusting (your truth) it will diminish their truth (this food looks amazing) and guess who look’s like the arse?
So Kiana and Oprah, ask yourself these questions next time you want to speak:
- Will speaking my truth have a positive impact on the person I am speaking it to? Do they need to hear this or am I being judgmental and controlling?
- Will speaking my truth have a positive impact on me?
- Will speaking my truth have a positive impact on my community?
If your answer is “no,” don’t speak. Silently acknowledge that said truth is yours, then tell it to your journal.
(Wait, did I just speak my truth?)