Did you know that the Hallmark Channel is already playing holiday movies all day, every day? While I try to hold off on becoming too festive until the week of Thanksgiving, I cut myself some slack this year and started a little early. In fact, last Sunday I snuggled up in bed to watch three of these movies back-to-back-to-back. I thoroughly enjoyed each movie, but one of them really struck a chord with me. “I’m Not Ready for Christmas” is a romantic comedy where Holly, an advertising professional, suddenly finds that she can only speak her absolute truth, thanks to her niece Anna’s wish to Santa Claus. Speaking one’s truth without a filter can create awkward moments as Holly quickly learns. Even though her bluntness created significant discomfort and embarrassment, in the end Holly not only became a better person but all of her relationships improved.
Two days later I co-hosted a writing workshop with poet and author Nicole Sorrocco, who shared that her writing took off when she made a practice of courageously writing at least one thing a day that was hard to say out loud. Since I don’t believe in coincidence, being put in a position of analyzing my truth twice in two days made me look hard at where I’m not being completely honest with myself and others.
Uncovering the Resistance
When we stifle our truth, there is an inherent resistance to transparency. So the first step to is to identify the resistance. Most often, we fear that our truth will hurt someone’s feelings. This is especially true with family and friends. In business situations, we may filter our truth because our honesty could cost us a client or an upcoming promotion. In worse case scenarios, we might feel our complete honesty would cost us our job.
It sucks to feel like we must conceal our truth because it forces us to live a lie — at least to some degree. If you think about it, we filter our truth all of the time.
So where is this showing up in my life? Oh, I know exactly where my truth is being concealed. I’m angry at someone for being verbally and emotionally abusive to someone I love very much. Three of the top five warning signs of psychological abuse include hypercriticism (check), refusing to communicate (check), and ignoring or excluding you (check).
You get the picture.
I’m concealing my truth because I don’t believe the abuser has the mental or emotional capacity to understand, accept, nor value my truth. In fact, I fear that sharing my truth would only create more of the abuse that she’s already dished out.
Since this abuse has been ongoing for the last four months, it still makes me angry. And because I prefer better feelings than anger, obviously I need to resolve and release my attachment to the situation. It’s a work in process, but here’s what I’ve done so far.
Steps for Releasing Anger
- Vent. Not to a real person but by imagining the actual abuser in front of me. In my case, I imagined myself telling her exactly how I felt about her words and actions. I laid it on her without any filter. I told her exactly how irrational, immature, and self-absorbed her words and actions were. Since past behavior is a prediction of future behavior (yes, we’ve seen this behavior before), I recommended a therapist so she wouldn’t make the same mistakes with her husband, children, friends, and other family members. Let me just say, this visual venting exercise felt so good!
- Write. I’m a writer, so even when the words are not coming out through my fingertips, they come out in my thoughts. I’ll continue processing until all the anger has subsided.
- Met my inner child. So here’s the thing, holding onto anger is emotionally immature, and I recognize that. So I called forth my inner child to ask why she was stomping her feet and balling up her fists. She wasted no time letting me know that the abuser needed a spanking for her bad behavior. She needed to be put into time out. She needed to be grounded FOREVER. The mature, rational adult self then explained that sometimes we have to wait for things to straighten themselves out, and just because we recognize bad behavior that doesn’t always mean it’s our job to do anything about it. We have to trust that corrective actions will be made at the right time, in the right way. That’s hard for a child to understand, but so long as I keep hugging her and telling her that everything will be fine, she’s feeling much better about it.
- Meditate. This is my favorite process for ridding myself of any feeling that doesn’t serve me. Through meditation, I ground myself, reconnect with the positive currents in the universe, and remember that I have what (and who) is most important in my life right here with me. The rest is inconsequential. I choose how I feel every morning when I wake up and every moment throughout the day. I choose to feel joyful. I choose to feel grateful. I choose to feel excited for what tomorrow will bring.
- Connect. Even though my loved one experienced an abusive interaction with this particular person, she is NOT representative of any other relationship we have. So we are regularly connecting with family and friends whose perspectives are much healthier. This process is perfect for releasing bad juju!
- Communicate. Since the abuse is directed at my loved one and not me, time will come when he has to decide when and how to communicate with the abuser, if at all. It may be safer for him to wait until the abuser is in a place where she feels ready to re-engage. The bottom line about future communications will be focusing on how they want the relationship to feel going forward, as well as setting and managing expectations around words and actions that cross outside of healthy, respectful boundaries.
Are there areas in your life where you are filtering your truth in a way that is causing you to live a lie? What would your relationship have to be with that person for you to share your truth? What steps can you take to shift from feeling bad to feeling better?
Whatever your situation may be, just remember that only you choose how you feel. I trust you will choose to feel amazing and use these exercises to help you get there!
Sheila Callaham is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and success coach. Sign up to receive your free ebook “Release, Reboot, and Reconnect to Your Dreams” plus a twice-monthly inspirational newsletter.