It is the wise person who knows that their opinion is not divine, it is simply their opinion. What we perceive as truth is often just that—opinion. It is one thing to ask Johnny if he stole the apple and expect him to tell the truth. That is one way we teach children values. In the world of adult interaction, however, truth can be far more complex. The questions of when, where, and how much to tell must all be measured. It is also wise to refrain from offering your truth unless asked, and even then, you are charting choppy waters. When someone asks how we like their new house, car, outfit, hairdo, they really just want us to like whatever it may be with their same enthusiasm. So, would the truth be served to tell them otherwise if that is the case? On the other hand, there are what we call “hard truths” that may involve a person’s welfare, health or safety—situations where, as the messenger, we risk being shot, but morals or a sense of duty take precedence over the person’s response. About the only truth one can be reasonably certain of is the truth of one’s own feelings and even then there is the responsibility of owning those feelings, not blaming someone else for creating that which only we have the power to create. To compound the topic even more is the fact that nothing stays the same. Life is change. Every molecule in our bodies is constantly in flux and so, too, can the truth change.
When sharing personal aspects of ourselves we may not stop to think that by the very act of doing so we are inviting comment and thus be surprised when someone close to us responds with hurtful criticism or judgment. Does this mean that we always have to be on our guard, not opening up to people, not letting them see who we are? That wouldn’t be a very happy way to live. We never really know when something we regard as inconsequential is going to provoke a strong reaction in someone else, so all we can really do is speak our truth, and if others can’t accept who we are then sometimes, sadly, they may not be able to be in our lives anymore. There’s that change thing again.
Imagine a world where everyone spoke exactly what was on their minds at all times. “Sweetheart, does this dress make me look fat?” You get the idea.
Truth is a powerful thing. With even the best of intentions, it can do great harm. So, is it always wiser to tell the truth? If you are less than divine, the answer may be no.