Being real with yourself about an ugly truth is way, way better than hiding from it.
That said— “ugly” is in the eye of the beholder. Not everything we think of as “ugly” (or even “truth”) is always what it seems.
Sometimes we think “the ugly truth” is that we just can’t have the life we imagined. That we just don’t have the resources; that the world just isn’t going to cooperate; that the life we thought we were destined for just isn’t going to materialize.
It’s true that, in the course of living, many of us are invited to reexamine our expectations for what life can be, or was going to be. (Myself, I figured by now— at age 40— I’d be a successful politician. There’s no WAY I’d have believed anyone who tried to tell 12-year-old-me that a career as a psychologist, writer, and speaker was in the cards.)
But life, as John Lennon once observed in song, is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
So there is the “truth” that life may not be working out as you thought it would. Also the “truth” that life may not, from this point forward, shape up to be what you’d prefer it would.
That’s a big picture “truth” that many people have to come face to face with in the course of their lives. After all, when we’re kids, we’re all kind of groomed to believe we’d have an even chance at being famous, influential, world-changing in the historical sense…and it’s kind of a rude awakening we get when we figure out that it’s a very, very tiny minority of people who become “famous” or “influential” in the history-book sense.
There are other “ugly truths” we have to confront besides the fact that most of us aren’t destined to be movie stars or rock gods or presidents, though.
“Truths” that hit closer to home.
Truths such as: our parents may not have been as invested in our growth and well-being as we’d expect parents to be.
Truths such as: there have been times in our lives that we, ourselves, have failed to live up to our own standards.
Truths such as: EVEN THOUGH there have been times in our lives that we, ourselves, have failed to live up to our own standards, that doesn’t mean we’re terrible people…it means we’ve fallen short, as human beings sometimes do.
Truths such as: we’re human beings…and human beings are imperfect.
Truths such as: even though we’re human beings, and human beings are imperfect…we can still try to improve our lives.
Truths such as: relapse doesn’t mean you have to chuck recovery altogether…even if you feel like you want to.
Truths such as: how we’re FEELING doesn’t necessarily equate to how we’re DOING.
Truths such as: sometimes our “friends” haven’t been particularly “friendly” to us.
Truths such as: we haven’t always been willing or able to confront the truths of our lives.
Truths such as: defeats don’t mean we have to give up…even if we’re tired, even if we want to give up.
Truths such as: sometimes we want to give up.
Truths such as: sometimes we have to let a goal go.
Truths such as: sometimes we have to let a person go.
Truths such as: we can continue to be attached to people, places, and things that have hurt us.
Truths such as: there have been times in the past when we’ve let ourselves, and other people, down.
Truths such as: even if we’ve let other people down, it doesn’t make us terrible friends, or terrible people; it makes us fallible humans, to whom the law of averages caught up.
If you’re like most people, reading, or even thinking about, the list of “truths” that we may or may not have been all that keen on looking at in the past probably brings a tear to your eye.
Understand, it may not be our fault that we’ve not been too keen on looking at the “ugly truths” of our lives. It may be the case that no one ever taught us how to look at the truth without flinching. Maybe no one ever told us that we have nothing to fear from the truth— that the far more toxic, far more dangerous alternative is to deny, disown, and fail to acknowledge the truth, no matter how ugly it may seem at the time.
Denying and disowning “ugly truths” robs us of our power.
Denying and disowning “ugly truths” robs us of our right to pursue happiness.
Denying and disowning “ugly truths” keeps us in a place of disorientation, confusion, and anxiety. It’s simply impossible to build a centered, confident life that prioritizes self-esteem when we’re refusing to look at, to really see, important facets of reality.
We have nothing to fear from reality— as “ugly” as it might seem.
Do the hard thing. Face the “truths” with eyes wide open.
Yes, yes. Easier said than done.
But really, really important to do.
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