What is your relationship to truth?

The astrology this week is asking a question: what is your relationship to truth? It seems like such a simple and obvious question at first, but there are many ways we compromise that relationship, with various levels of awareness.

Simple honesty: sunlight on a wall. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Take, for example, the cultural imperative to ‘try to be nice’ — which often amounts to just being passive in place of being clear, direct and honest. And then when problems arise because the other person doesn’t ‘get it’, it’s that person’s fault for overstepping boundaries or ‘pushing’. It’s rarely seen to be the fault of the person who avoided clear honesty in favor of ‘being nice’.

People of both genders do it, but I’ve particularly noticed this self-defeating dynamic in women (including myself at times) when a man whom they’re not attracted to expresses interest. Maybe he’s a little too persistent; maybe he’s just lonely and socially awkward. But if all you keep saying is, ‘I’m busy that night’ when he asks you to a movie, can you blame him if he still has hope?

And if he continues to act on that hope, to the point where you feel uncomfortable in social situations, what is the more honest course of action: to ask friends and authority figures to exclude him for your protection because you think he’s ‘creepy’, or to let him know, clearly but compassionately, that you are not interested in dating him — but surely someone else will be?

That illustration is gender-weighted in one direction, but really, most of us get caught in the trap of ‘just trying to be nice’ at one time or another. Some make it a way of life, and find themselves pulled by guilt and obligations into all kinds of contortions and ‘white’ lies. We hate to feel ‘mean’, but often forget that the alternative can be much more cruel.

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24 Responses to What is your relationship to truth?

  1. dawnbrocco dawnbrocco says:

    “I’m with you on the need for more kindness, but I suspect that many people are so jaded they equate kindness with weakness. Didn’t it used to be a virtue?”

    Yes, Jinspace, I’ve seen jaded, and, unfortunately, it *seems* to be coming from generations younger than mine. Also left in the gutter are virtues and etiquette.

    It’s just a thought, but it seems that as the young communicate in thumbed sound bite acronyms, where there is no (apparent) need for please and thank you, courtesy has simply atrophied from a lack of use, like muscles.

    Not far behind are shriveling virtues, like kindness, not necessarily because it is seen as weak (tho there is a snarky tangent to some of our youth), but I think simply because they are spending less time thinking of others.

    When you compose a letter or even a proper email, and you write Dear (name), Thank you for your kind reply…, or Life is just too busy right now, so could you kindly remove me from your mailing list…, you are taking time to be courteous and respectful. Stop doing that on a regular basis, and demanding takes its place.

    and gumbybug10:
    “I’m interested in how you guys handle the “holiday obligations” that my be an issue this time of year and stay true to yourself? Sometimes it falls under the “gotta keep the family tradition going” banner, which perhaps, unraveled years ago and could use some new thread and design.”

    Families truly are our learning ground/anvil.

    As my nature is Romantic, I’ve always envisioned Christmas ala Currier & Ives, and tried several times to create this genre of holiday experience. Life isn’t that perfect painting, because we’re not perfect, and oftentimes, more than imperfect, dysfunctional.

    It has taken major illnesses and passing 50 for me to massively trim my expectations. Not only *can’t* I run around anymore like a headless chicken, satisfying everyone else’s need for us to visit them, but I no longer *want* to. I’d rather a quiet, serene and peaceful holiday with my husband, and children if I can see them, than trying to do the rounds.

    Enough decades of being exhausted by New Year’s, and not from activities *I* would have enjoyed – seeing Rockefeller Center again, going to a ballet, singing carols on a Christmas Village Stroll. Exhausted from having to listen to all the Chatty Cathys in our families. Talk, talk, talk, eesh.

    I used to feel guilty. Not any more.

  2. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    thanks, aword — you can see a larger version of it by clicking on it. i just didn’t want to mar the simple caption by adding that bit.

    gumbybug: i’m still trying to figure that one out, too. trying to strike that balance between being true to myself and understanding that my family enjoys my presence — and that is not a bad thing. but yes: some of those “family obligation banners” are quite threadbare, indeed — and my mom is quite attached to her traditions. sometimes they get shifted out of (external) necessity. and some of them i really do enjoy.

  3. gumbybug10 says:

    “There is such a thing as having priorities, and budgeting time and money for those things, people and experiences we value most. But how can we tell when that’s the case, as opposed to using the ‘no time/money’ trope as a cover, so that we don’t have to express (to ourselves or others) that we simply are not interested? It’s kind of an extension of the ‘nice’ problem, since it means that thing, event or person in question just is not important to us. Are we afraid to be known for our values? Are we ashamed?”

    I’m interested in how you guys handle the “holiday obligations” that my be an issue this time of year and stay true to yourself? I mean, in reality, there are probably a lot of people who don’t want to admit to their family (or themselves) that they really don’t want to spend time with family at “the appointed hour, the required meal, etc.”

    Sometimes it falls under the “gotta keep the family tradition going” banner, which perhaps, unraveled years ago and could use some new thread and design.

    I look forward to your comments and experiences and really enjoy learning here.

  4. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Amanda,

    I really enjoy your pix for today; you have captured something special — while it would seem that the focus is the towel – an object that we use to clean or dry or otherwise take away – the light is actually strongest on the door handle; a device known for allowing, for opening, for admitting one into, out of, or otherwise representative of in-between spaces.

    Together, the act of leaving behind that which we don’t need and the brightness of opening into clarity, light or new-ness, seem to characterize your essay today on “Truth”.

    and so I enjoy the brilliant light you have shined onto those in-between places today.

    and Jann – me guesses you cannot beam up; as you are already there. So; beam me up, I’d like to join you, sore shoulder and all, and we’ll all share some of that fab albeit virtual fruitcake.

    Linda

  5. whataretheyods42 says:

    Pam: Thanks for your/willow’s reminder to,”…pay attention to the man behind the curtain”, stationing direct in Aries; ergo exploring the ‘empty’ sign of Libra for insight into how to handle the T-square. Not too far a stretch, either, to note Pluto in the neighborhood; so there’s a tie-in to the impending ‘Jupiter’ yod, as well.
    Also got me re-noticing the rather slow moving, but still simmering yod-with the nodes forming the backbone (plus Sedna)- smack in between ErisSextileCeres. …Ceres does the connecting of the two configurations, if Pluto is too far out of orb for ya…
    And bringing the goddess thema(s) home is: Astraea more or less the midpoint/focalpoint of the ‘Jupiter yod at present; to be replaced by Venus on the Solstice; with JunoConjunctSun, no less. Just sayin’ ….
    Anyway…any and all comments welcome…

    Bradley

  6. jinspace says:

    pam – Willow’s post: Wow! A woman after my own heart. Loved it. Thanks.

  7. jinspace says:

    “There are men who, out of either a lack of verbal acuity, or just emotional escapism, blurt out that oft-used phrase, knowing full well they will not be calling, but also knowing full well that the woman will be waiting on that call.”

    dawn – that was exactly my point. I guess I wasn’t clear enough. I meant my remark to illustrate a classic male tactic for being ‘nice’ along the lines of Amanda’s example re women (“I’m busy that night”). A woman may wind up waiting in vain on that call, but a man may wind up calling in vain, too. Different m.o.’s, but springing from the same core issue: avoidance of the ‘uncomfortable’ truth. Which, of course, only makes everyone so much more uncomfortable in the long run.

    I’m with you on the need for more kindness, but I suspect that many people are so jaded they equate kindness with weakness. Didn’t it used to be a virtue?

    pam – thanks for the link. I’ll take a look.

  8. pam says:

    And adding to the Fleetwood Mac fest of the other day…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b4F_ppjnKU

  9. pam says:

    jinspace – willow’s post ‘a new moon in sag with uranus stationing direct triggers the squared off feminine asteroids’ may well speak to you. Loved it – all about truth etc to add to the posts here. http://willowsweb.blogspot.fr/

  10. dawnbrocco dawnbrocco says:

    “‘A woman can surely find soft words to make clear her disinterest in a male’s pursuits,’ surprised me, given the overall tone of her reflections. Reverse ‘woman’ and ‘male’ in her sentence and it works just as well.”

    Well, it *should* work as well, but doesn’t appear to usually be the case. As you’ve said, “How many men out there have said “I’ll call you,” knowing perfectly well they won’t?”

    There are men who, out of either a lack of verbal acuity, or just emotional escapism, blurt out that oft-used phrase, knowing full well they will not be calling, but also knowing full well that the woman will be waiting on that call.

    A woman is blunt and is called a bitch. A man lies and is called a bastard. Yes, why can’t both sexes try harder to be kind and honest at the same time.

  11. jinspace says:

    And by the way, I love the photo!

  12. jinspace says:

    Amanda – I did see your comment re gender-specificity, and I wasn’t thinking specifically of you :)

    I was referring to something beyond the scope of this post. I’m finding it interesting, if not disturbing, how deeply ingrained the negative gender bias seems to be even here at PW, against women. It’s coming from both men and women, and I recognize that it’s not conscious.

    If you wanted to go for succinctness over comprehensiveness, why choose one gender over the other and then spend so many paragraphs on it? This isn’t a criticism at all; I ask it to provoke some deeper thought.

    Dawn, too, in writing ‘A woman can surely find soft words to make clear her disinterest in a male’s pursuits,’ surprised me, given the overall tone of her reflections. Reverse ‘woman’ and ‘male’ in her sentence and it works just as well.

    The third instance that comes to mind was a few weeks ago. I’ve forgotten what the post was, but Eric, too, in the context of male-female relations, made a comment that pinned some pejorative behavior patterns on women without acknowledging the other side of that coin. (It was the ‘clingy-ness’ of women vs. the ‘I gotta be free’ of men that turned into maybe the longest comment thread I’ve ever seen on PW!)

    Again, I don’t believe for an instant that any of these were deliberate expressions of bias. I’m just calling ‘em as I see ‘em, and here I see some food for thought.

  13. zerosity zerosity says:

    Another “thing” I’ve learned when extending an invitation is to first say what the activity is, and then ask if the person is available, as in “There’s a Motor City Brass Band concert on Sunday. Are you interested in going?” By phrasing in that order, the person knows the activity and can decline if not interested without having to divulge a clear schedule first.

    Fruitcake aside: Enjoy it, jinnspace. I haven’t made it in ten years. My current holiday fave recipes are Sweet Potato Pie, Cranberry Ginger Citrus relish (raw) and a Fig, Date and Olive Tapenade. Oh, yeah, and that Michigan holiday favorite: Vernor’s Ham.

    JannKinz

  14. Katie Vee says:

    Great piece, Amanda. I’ve been neglecting my relationship with the truth. I’ve been “home” for a while now (quotation “home” because I still feel like a floater … looking for that space of my own). I left my previous position in the summer and have been doing some wandering and wondering ever since. I’ve been staying with family and feel like I am am starting to wear out my welcome. Might have worn it out a while ago actually. I’m starting a new position in a few weeks. I will be making the move across the pond to a bigger–hopefully better–position with a larger music company. Hopefully the knowledge of my departure will ease some of the tension that has been mounting with my family housemates. It’s my fault really–I take full credit for this one. I’ve managed to really muck things up this time. I’ve been bugging someone who I should have left alone. I was working through these strange feelings of jealousy and wishfulness. I had a complete lapse of judgement and acted like a complete moron. And now I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s someone else who’s been behind the situation this whole time. But it’s me. It’s messy and I’ve put the blame on someone else–accidentally, but still. Someone who should not get the blame because she has no idea about what’s been going on. Guess it’s time to come clean with all parties–I hate admitting to my stupidity. It’s time to tell the truth about everything instead of the half-truths that have come out lately. Thanks for the wonderful article that, once again, came at exactly the right moment.

  15. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    jinspace — if you read it over, you’ll see i was very careful to note that the behavior is engaged in by people of *both* genders. i merely used the example i did for simplicity — and because i was referring to a real-life example i have just witnessed in my own community.

    i did not want to get more explicit about the particulars in the example, since i do not know who might be reading who might recognize themselves.

    apologies for not providing examples from both sides of the gender aisle, but i was shooting for succinctness, not comprehensiveness — an illustration with the notation that both men and women do such things. and that true kindness and compassion can shape the delivery of clarity without resorting to avoidance behaviors, white lies or “brutal” honesty. i’m no fan of brutality, especially when it comes to someone who has had the courage to sincerely express his or her interest in, or appreciation of, another person.

  16. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    dawn — by no means am i saying, “don’t be kind,” which is why i expressly mentioned being compassionate in one’s clarity. maybe it’s semantics, but i’m making a distinction between one who is compassionate in delivering their honesty, versus a common avoidance behavior that people often paste with the phrase, “but i don’t want to be mean” — and which fails to let a person know that although they are a decent human being, there is not further interest.

  17. jinspace says:

    Hmm… I cannot for the life of me figure out why the white lie vis-à-vis dating – call it being nice or being kind – is being expressed here as something mainly attributed to women.

    Surely a man or two out there must be amazed not to be recognized as just as guilty, if not far more. How many men out there have said “I’ll call you,” knowing perfectly well they won’t?

  18. jinspace says:

    So many truths in this post, but I’m singling out one.

    An old friend of mine who’s a stand-up complains in one routine about women who make it perfectly clear they’d never have sex with him. He’s actually begging for that little white lie that would give him a glimmer of hope; it’s a funny riff on painful truths.

    Jann wisely points out coming to know the difference between honesty and ‘brutal’ honesty, and makes me wonder why indeed people are so unaware that the truth can be handled with tact and diplomacy. ‘Polite’ and ‘nice’ are not one and the same thing.

    P.S. to Jann – it’s time for your fabulous flammable fruit cake :D

  19. dawnbrocco dawnbrocco says:

    “how do you discern the difference between intuition versus paranoia or wishful thinking? Is there a system of objective checks and balances for such things? If you rely on your own inner moral/ethical compass, do you have a way to run some kind of systems check on it once in a while?”

    Intuition is felt in the gut. Paranoia or wishful *thinking* is in the head. One is feeling, the other is thought. As for objective checks and balances, as in some sort of objective rule that might apply to all – no, I don’t think such a thing exists. Intuition is personal, individual, honed through experience.

    “But where is the line between delusional optimism (lying to oneself) and ‘raising one’s vibration’ by focusing on the joyful and the best possible outcome? Is there a difference, or is it just a matter of perspective?”

    Raising one’s vibration by being joyful and focusing on the best possible outcome may *appear* to those of little faith as being delusionally optimistic, but if the optimist is actively working with the Universe to attract a positive outcome, it is not delusional/pathological.

    From Wiki: “A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.[1] Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological (the result of an illness or illness process).[1] As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, or other effects of perception.”

    If someone believed themselves to be the Napolean, that’s a delusion.

    But as most of us aren’t pathological, do we really lie to ourselves, as in ignoring all the facts and believing otherwise? Is that a lie, or is that faith? Faith that Facts aren’t the be all and end all of Existence and Possibility. They’re just what is true from a certain perspective.

    “why are so many of us so afraid to believe fully that we are lovable as we are, without having to deceive anyone? What would have to change if we chose to be real, in those small, ordinary circumstances?”

    I still don’t understand this. That they are people afraid to just be themselves. “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” (Oscar Wilde) Be brave, ignore all those who would quash your Truth, out of insecurity about their own Truth.

    But this is a separate issue from being nice. Or as I prefer to think of it – being Kind. One doesn’t want be unnecessarily unkind, in order to be Frank or Truthful. A woman can surely find soft words to make clear her disinterest in a male’s pursuits.

    People talk about Truth as if it was an excuse to be unkind. Speak your mind, and blast the repercussions, as if Your thoughts were somehow more important than another’s.

    “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.” John Watson

  20. Chief Niwots Son Chief Niwots Son says:

    Amanda- your laser-like statement and question:

    “But where is the line between delusional optimism (lying to oneself) and ‘raising one’s vibration’ by focusing on the joyful and the best possible outcome? Is there a difference, or is it just a matter of perspective?”

    Brought to mind these words:

    “The foundation of all mental illness is an unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering.”

    - Carl Jung

    Thanks for helping to illuminate a way through the fog.

  21. Musicman 1 says:

    “But where is the line between delusional optimism (lying to oneself) and ‘raising one’s vibration’ by focusing on the joyful and the best possible outcome? Is there a difference, or is it just a matter of perspective?”

    There is a school of thought that would suggest that the only difference between genius and insanity is one’s success/failure. In marketing and venture capital realms, failure is embraced in the same way as success! A No is as good as a Yes. It is “Maybe” or “I dont know” or “I am not sure” that wreaks havoc with decision makers who rely on instinct! This suggests that seeing it through…against the odds…is directly related to one’s ability to remain connected to core truth at all times. That instinct….that feminine energy that brings in the Neptunian ripples on the Galactic horizon can, with the help of Pluto, cut through all of the DDDDDs…delusion, dysfunction, dramatic disenchantment, denial, devastation and decline…… and bring sweet inspiration to the creative palate. You are right to work at it! That is the job! Mercury sq. Neptune. It is the obstacles to connecting to your truth that are mutable at this time!

    My computer just asked me for an 8 character password! So I typed “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

    A seasonal greeting and pantomimes of fun….to you all!

    Paul

  22. zerosity zerosity says:

    “. . .why are so many of us so afraid to believe fully that we are lovable as we are, without having to deceive anyone? What would have to change if we chose to be real, in those small, ordinary circumstances?”

    It’s about that conditioning – cultural, social, familial, religious – that we are not worthy. But we are, aren’t we? Quite worthy and entitled even. Ironically, being lovable and loved was part of a conversation with three friends yesterday. (Who said astrology is bunk?)

    Accused as a child decades ago of not telling the truth when I was, I spent many years being known for being “brutally honest.” Age and experience, and accepting being loved has tempered that and I am not as “brutal.” Telling the truth is important, but it is as important to pay attention to language and delivery. Those words and actions have power. Thanks again, Amanda.

    JannKinz

  23. zerosity zerosity says:

    “The Sun’s upcoming conjunction to the Galactic Core gets to the heart of the matter: if we could feel our connection to source all the time, how would it change our relationship to truth?” Thank you, Amanda.

    These days for me it is an awareness of the cosmos, that connection, that keeps me from utter despair about the condition of our planet and the behavior of the people on it. I keep wishing to be beamed up, keep slapping my communicator, but neither Scotty nor Miles O’Brien seem to be at the control panel and all I get is a bruise on my left shoulder.

    But it is that awareness of the cosmic connection is what reminds me that there is something so much greater out there.

    JannKinz

  24. Lizzy Lizzy says:

    Great piece, Amanda! Thank you.Love this “But where is the line between delusional optimism (lying to oneself) and ‘raising one’s vibration’ by focusing on the joyful and the best possible outcome?”

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