The Power of the Truth

Welcome to format free Fridays at, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited advice.

Today I’m discussing the power of the truth and the price we pay when there’s an absence of it in our life. Most of us think of ourselves as being ethical, but how ethical can you be when you fail to speak or live your truth every day?  Most of us don’t contemplate questions like this.  I know I didn’t.  And then something very strange happened to me last summer…

Last July I was informed that I had to participate in a series of depositions.  From beginning to end, it would take 7 months to complete these 6-hour long days of tedious questioning from various attorneys.  I remember how concerned I was before the first deposition.  I was worried that I’d forget facts or inadvertently tell things out of order; I was concerned that the attorneys would manipulate me into saying things that I didn’t intend to say. In response to my fears, my wife made a suggestion that was so simple but so profound:  “Just tell the truth as you understand it.  That’s all you’re responsible for doing.”  I followed her advice and by the end of that first deposition I felt liberated, free, and as though a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. And of course, as a therapist, I couldn’t help but contemplate why a process that most people dread appeared to be the source of these positive feelings.  And then it occurred to me…

I had been sworn to tell the truth.  I wasn’t responsible for protecting anyone.  I wasn’t responsible for interpreting the intention or meaning behind the questions.  I was simply responsible for telling the truth, as I understood it to be. And I couldn’t help concluding that if this is how I felt when I was mandated to tell the truth, it must mean that I walk through life as a borderline pathological liar.

The truth (pun intended) is that while I’m certainly not a pathological liar, I do walk through life inclined to take too much responsibility for protecting others, editing my thoughts and diluting my opinions (yes, you read that correctly).  The result is a burden that, quite literally, gives me a fucking pain in my back.

In the months since that first deposition, I’ve lived with an increasingly greater sense of awareness surrounding truth telling.  And with each passing month, my heart felt lighter, my head felt clearer and my body felt stronger.

We are socialized to believe that some lies are acceptable.  We’re taught that if we’re protecting others, lying is forgivable.  We’re conditioned to believe that some truths shouldn’t be spoken.  But in the absence of truth, we are left with secrets and shame, the building blocks of stress and disease.

Ultimately, there is a cost to lying.  And there is freedom in the truth.  So for the next 24 hours, I challenge you to tell the absolute truth.  Try it.  And tell me how the experience was for you: