I (Shana) just spent the weekend looking into the eyes and hearts of 30 men who were hungry for truth! They were raw, vulnerable and courageous! I heard about their heartache and struggles in relationships, friendships, sex and work. Men don’t always show these parts of themselves but they did, because we made it safe.
Do the people you care about, and have close relationships with, hide or hold back with you?
Do men feel scared to share what’s really going on?
Do you think you get the truth, I mean the whole truth, from the men in your life?
The impact of withheld truth is devastating! I’m talking serious relationship problems — from ongoing tension and resentment to faded passion, affairs and breakups.
You could be interacting in a way that causes a man (or woman) to be less than fully honest with you. He may not tell you the whole truth, to make himself look good. Or he may be trying to make you feel good. (While this usually backfires it is helpful to recognize his positive intention.)
So, how do you know if you’re not getting the whole truth? Sometimes you’ll see signs: Words don’t match actions, his energy feels dampened, he avoids spending time with you or looking in your eyes. Or maybe you get a funny feeling in your gut and start to wonder whether you’re getting the whole story (Your feminine intuition is strong!).
There will be times you won’t know too. You’ll either be really good at convincing yourself that everything is fine, or he won’t know he isn’t being honest with himself. Until he does know. Then the s*^%t hits the fan.
Looking back you can often see the signs. Sometimes they are as clear as day. Sometimes more like a shooting star — a glimmer of light you wonder if you actually saw.
In a long term relationship where truth is withheld, passion doesn’t stand a chance. Worst case your man comes to you, seemingly out of the blue and says “I can’t do this anymore” or “It’s over.” And you think, “Do what? What do you mean it’s over? What’s the problem? I didn’t know there was a problem.”
In a new relationship, if a man doesn’t feel safe to share his truth he’s likely to make a graceful exit or, sadly, suddenly stop calling. If it seems like he has to live up to a certain standard, or if you don’t accept who he is, he’ll hide or alter his truth. Even as he is trying to make it work he might feel trapped and misunderstood.
WITHOUT HONESTY YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW SOMEONE
Think about this. You could be in a relationship with a man and actually not know him — his heart and soul, what makes him tick, what turns him on, what drags him down.
Isn’t that sad?!
On the one hand there is always more to know about someone. We grow and change every day.
On the other hand I’ve seen many women feel shocked by a choice a boyfriend, or husband, made. This often happens when women don’t, or won’t, see or understood something that is really important to a man.
HOW TO MAKE IT SAFE FOR SOMEONE TO SHARE HIS/HER TRUTH
Or in other words: THE MESSES I MADE SO HOPEFULLY YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
From your own experience you probably know it can be scary to share your truth. When you feel angry, when attraction fades, when you feel discounted, when your someone crosses a line or challenges one of your values… It isn’t always easy to say so.
In the past decade I’ve learned so much about what makes it safe for people to share truth…the kind of truth that keeps relationships from staying shallow, stalling out or becoming stagnant.
And I’ve been shocked at how I continue to discover my truth, on deeper and deeper levels. I look back at what I thought was truth last year, or yesterday, and see layers and subtlties that surprise me. It helps me have compassion for others, rather than assuming they’ve lied or manipulated me on purpose.
It’s easy to blame others for making their truth hard to hear – choosing inappropriate times, defending themselves, being uncomfortable with their own truth, etc. But when I set those reasons aside I face the reality that I haven’t always made it easy for people to share truth with me.
I share my messes and learnings with you to save you some pain and struggle!
HOW I’VE MADE IT HARD FOR PEOPLE TO SHARE TRUTH WITH ME
1. I took things personally and then defended myself
This is tricky. Things feel personal. Sometimes they are personal. But the ability to really listen and understand where someone is coming from, without muddling their truth into your old wounds, is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
This doesn’t mean you won’t feel hurt, but you can hear their words without making yourself wrong. You can hear separate the current moment from how your parents, siblings, peers or teachers were not supportive of you when you needed it.
When you can hear someone’s truth without needing to look good, defend yourself or be right you’ll gain the trust it takes to share the real stuff.
2. I interrupted
I am a fiery woman. I have spent years learning how to wield my fire in a way that doesn’t burn down the forest. When I feel heated I don’t always let people finish their sentences. I get emotional. I can be a volcanic explosion. I speak loudly and my tone gets sharper.
When I do this I don’t honor that the person sharing with me is being vulnerable. S/he is trying to tell me something important. Even if you do feel hurt or blamed it is possible to gracefully pause the conversation, rather than reacting and interrupting. I’m doing much better than 10 years ago but every once in a while this still happens!
3. I used the “Maybe that means we should end this” threat
In a big fight or discussion I wouldn’t intend to threaten the end of a relationship but I would find those words coming out of my mouth. “Fine, if that’s how you feel then maybe it’s over. Maybe we shouldn’t do this anymore.” Pout!
It was my own fear of being left. What I was actually saying was “I’ll leave you before you can leave me. It won’t be as devastating for me that way.”
When I turn things into a “relationship ending” conversation rather than a “needs or feelings” conversation it makes it much scarier to share truth with me. Bringing it to the admittedly dramatic level of “whether or not we should be together” meant I trumped what was being said with a bigger issue.
4. I brought up the past and made generalizations
Disagreements and fights tend to be about something that is currently happening. But it can be easy to bring in the past and make generalizations. “I’m upset that you didn’t take out the garbage this weekend” becomes “You NEVER take out the garbage!”
It is important to heal past experiences but I have rarely seen it work to do so while in the midst of a disagreement. You can address past experiences that don’t feel healed or complete at a time when you are calm and connected. Stay focused on the current issue.
TIPS FOR TRUTH:
I imagine these examples bring light to how you can make it safer for someone to share truth with you. And here’s your cheat sheet:
1. TELL YOUR TRUTH. IT INSPIRES OTHERS TO DO THE SAME.
2. LET PEOPLE FINISH WHAT THEY ARE SAYING (OR AT LEAST THEIR SENTENCE!) As one of my spiritual teachers said, “You won’t die. Even if it feels like you will!”
3. WHEN YOU GET THE FUNNY FEELING THAT SOMETHING DOESN’T LINE UP, ASK.
4. ASK WITH CURIOSITY RATHER THAN JUDGMENT OR ASSUMING YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER.
5. DON’T THREATEN THE END OF A RELATIONSHIP IN THE MIDST OF A VULNERABLE CONVERSATION.
6. REMEMBER: IT’S NOT AS PERSONAL AS IT FEELS.
7. FOR NOW, KEEP THE PAST IN THE PAST. Go back and visit unhealed events when you are rested and calm.
8. REALLY LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU. RELATIONSHIPS ARE SUCCESSFUL WHEN THEY ARE WIN-WIN, NOT WHEN YOU TRY TO MAKE SOMEONE FIT INTO THE BOX THAT FITS YOUR DESIRES!
Questions or comments? Comment below. I’d love to know which of these you think will make the biggest difference in making it safe for people to share truth with you!