Facing Our Difficulties with the Uncomfortable Truth
I mentioned in a previous blog posts some of the reasons people come to therapy. Many people want to sort out problems they have in their life, and other people want to start actually feeling good (and they can do this through sorting out the problems in their life). However, other people come to therapy for different reasons, and one of these other reasons is a search for the truth.
Our search for truth – a last resort
The difficulty with searching for the truth is that we usually only do it when we run out of other options. This is why it is sometimes called the uncomfortable truth.
To take things as they appear to be on the surface is enormously attractive. Some examples of taking things as they are on the surface include “I'm right, and you're wrong” “I understand this better than you” “I was only thinking of you” and “I didn't know this would happen”.
We sometimes go to incredible lengths to keep ourselves in the dark about the truth. After all, the price of honesty is honesty.
For many of us, the truth is messy, complicated and very painful and we will do anything to avoid becoming familiar with it. For many people, a comfortable deception is far more acceptable and tolerable for everybody involved than ugly reality.
The truth outlasts all false appearances
The difficulty with comfortable surface appearances is that eventually they fall away and we are left with the truth anyway; all our efforts to build and maintain an inaccurate picture about ourselves, others, and the world are ultimately fruitless when the truth comes roaring in.
For as long as we are living with the half-truths we tell ourselves, we are not living with our true self and we don't really know other people. The truth of situations might be something like “I think we are both right” “You understand this better than me” “I was mainly thinking of myself” and “I didn't prevent this happening”. Sometimes the truth is that that are no good options.
Facing the uncomfortable truth
One of therapy's purposes is to help us gradually and slowly face the truth about ourselves, other people, and our circumstances. Therapy is designed to do this at a pace we can tolerate, accompanied by a compassionate therapist. As Flax has said pithily “Therapy's purpose is to grasp the real that underlies surface appearances and combat the patient's resistance to knowing it”. In other words, to become comfortable with the uncomfortable truth.
It isn't easy, but despite this, there is the promise. Once we know what the truth is, when we can face it in all its reality, then we can start to live authentically.
I offer counselling to individuals and couples in Richmond and Sunbury.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about our legitimate First World problems.
Source: Flax J. (1990) in Seu, I. B. (1998). Change and theoretical frameworks. In I. B. Seu & M. C. Heenan (Eds.), Feminism & Psychotherapy. London: SAGE