Jean slammed the car door and ran into the house. She was furious. “How dare they,” she thought. “How dare they disrespect me like that?” Without pausing to reflect on what had happened, she rushed to her computer. She did not consider whether or not her emotional reaction was in proportion to what had just taken place and/or could be clouding her understanding and judgement. She had heard people talk about the importance of your truth and she was ready to get hers out there. The possibility that “your truth is toxic” never crossed her mind.
Indeed, Jean was determined to get her truth out there. She would show them. Her truth was all that mattered. She logged into her social media platform and put her story out there. It stirred up a hornet’s nest. There was push back.
People pointed to the inaccuracies in what Jean had said. It caused division. These were unintended consequences, though truth be told, even if she had thought about it, she did not care. Jean was in her emotions, wanting justification and even revenge. She dug her heals in ignoring the signs that her truth was toxic. What were these signs?
#1 Your Truth Is Toxic When It Comes From An Unhealthy Place
An unhealthy place is one where your motivation to speak or act is governed by negative emotions. These are emotions such as anger and hurt. Moreover, when your truth is toxic you are motivated to speak out of jealousy and/or a desire for revenge. Sometimes the root of these emotions is your own unacknowledged insecurities.
Now, anger, hurt, and jealousy are common emotions. However, when you are mature, you can recognize them, step back, and come to a more level place. In this level place, recognize and acknowledge your emotional response and move beyond it to process what has really taken place. Even if anger is an appropriate response, you can temper it and determine your next course of action.
Part of this processing is looking at the situation from different angles and perspectives. This includes seeking to see things from the point of view of the others who are involved. In other words, you are trying to get as real a picture as you possibly can. Stepping back, taking stock of yourself, and your motivation will lead to a healthier place in which you can accept the reality of your situation.
#2 When Your Truth Ignores Reality It Is Toxic
While perceptions of reality can be subjective, there is still something called fact. For example, what had triggered Jean, who was mentioned at the beginning of this blog, was a correction.
Jean had not followed the procedure of the organization where she was employed and had been corrected. In her insecurity, she became angry. She did not step back to recognize the validity of her supervisor’s position and acknowledge where she had been wrong. Instead, she jumped on her social media platform and presented herself as a victim who had been wronged because she belonged to a particular group. Fact-based reality did not matter. Relatedly, context did not matter.
Context is an important aspect of facing and dealing with reality. What led up to the incident? What was said and/or done before and after? Without knowing these, you have a distorted view of reality. This distortion could signal that your truth is toxic.
In addition to the reality of the situation that you ignore when your truth is toxic, there is the reality of the impact of what you say and do. This includes the effect on those who are implicated and involved. For better or for worse, your words and actions have consequences. Your truth can have disastrous consequences for those who are unable to tell their side of the matter, especially if you weaponize it.
#3 Your Truth Is Toxic When You Weaponize It
When you come from a place of insecurity with unchecked and unprocessed emotions that ignore reality, it is easy to weaponize your truth. This is so especially when you are seeking revenge. So how do you do this?
In getting your truth out, you want to inflict maximum damage. Oh, you may cloak it as “I just want to be heard” or, “I just want to get my truth out there.” If you were honest with yourself, you would confess that what is driving you is your desire for revenge and to inflict pain on those whom you perceive to have harmed you. Thus, when you put your truth out, you present yourself as the blameless victim. Everyone else is a villain, even evil. This is a sure sign that you have weaponized your truth. It has become toxic.
As Jean angrily typed out the words, she painted herself as the most conscientious employee. She never mentioned the times when she had broken the rules and when people had bent over backwards to accommodate her needs. She only gave her side, which was the perfect side. She went so far as to call out the names of those with whom she had a problem.
Jean knew that company policy meant that the people could not reply. She felt smug. When she saw the furore she had created, Jean felt justified and happy. She was glad to be at the center of attention. She enjoyed her payback. Moreover, her truth, her ultimate weapon, had triumphed.
What about your truth?
Undoubtedly your truth is important. However, before you put it out there, remember that just as you do not live in a vacuum, your truth cannot exist in a vacuum if it is to have full integrity.
Temper your truth by acknowledging and regulating your emotions. This includes considering the whole situation, including those involved, and ensuring that you come from a place of seeking to heal rather than get revenge.
Anything else is toxic.
And if perchance you jump up and down, ready to give out cookies and awards every time somebody expresses their truth, just stop. Please stop. Check for the three signs of toxicity. If you do not, you will be contributing to this negative environment in which we live that has been partly fostered because “your truth” is toxic.
Claire Annelise Smith,PhD, aka Dr. Claire, is the founder of Blazing Star Network, a Professional Training and Spiritual Coaching firm. She is also the author of multiple books and publications.
With two decades of executive experience under her belt, Dr. Claire understands the drive that keeps individuals going.
As an author, speaker, spiritual mentor and coach, Dr. Claire helps leaders organize their busy lives to have more time to connect with themselves, the people they love most, and God … without stress and guilt.