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Friday, 24 February 2017

You can only hurt someone with the truth

Recently, I have mentioned this phrase to different people: You can only hurt someone with the truth. People will not get angry with your remarks, unless these are true. Why would anybody get angry for being called something which is clearly false? Again, you can only hurt someone for telling them the truth which they know deep down inside but which they deny to themselves.

Some of these hurtful truths are actually lies but the receiver believes it is true. His/her mind will continue questioning the plausibility of that truth as something feels off. Usually, the reasoning is: Why would anybody lie about this? Only sick people with a quest for revenge and retaliation would. A common example is a woman deliberately and falsely claiming that she is pregnant.

Hurtful truths are about physical or psychological characteristics, like: you are fat, you are a liar, you stink, you cannot be trusted. Some of these remarks may even be examples of reverse psychology and projection. In such case, the sender projects the truth about sender onto the receiver. In such cases, the receiver will be flabbergasted as the baseless remark seems to come out of thin air.

The consequence of the above is that we are hesitant telling someone the truth as we know from our own experience that the truth will hurt. This does not apply to everyone. I know someone who tells the truth as (s)he sees it as (s)he has no filter. The consequence is that (s)he hurts people without even knowing it. It leaves me with vicarious shame and guilt. Addressing this issue has been a waste of my time as (s)he feels entitled to these opinions.

There is a saying: The truth will set you free. The original saying was: "If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). Knowing the truth and - most importantly - believing in that truth, allows you to alter your behaviour and this will make you stronger (ie, set you free). Also see Your own worst enemy.

There is another saying: Hurt me with the truth but never comfort me with a lie. Often I have the feeling that this saying is just another example of reverse psychology. You need to be strong to accept the truth. Weak people cannot handle the truth. This reminds me of the 1992 movie A Few Good Men and Jack Nicholson screaming to Tom Cruise: "You cannot handle the truth!"

I like the saying that the truth hits you like a brick/bullet/rock. It's true. You have some milliseconds for considering its truth and deciding about your response (eg, acceptance, denial, fight, flight, hurt). The 1st instance that I remember was a counselling at work, several decades ago. I was told that I should bite my West-Frisian tongue, first count to ten, and only then respond. 

That truth did hurt. Accepting and believing it has made me much more effective in life. People call me thoughtful now. I'm not easily provoked. However, about a decade ago, I let myself fall into a trap of continued provocations. I still regret saying my intentionally harsh and hurtful truths. 

The tragedy of our lives is that, while we suffer from the wounds afflicted on us by those who love us, we cannot avoid wounding those we want to love. Quote by Henri Nouwen.

World of Hurt (1998) by Ilse DeLange - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2



Hurt (2002) by Johnny Cash - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2