I’d like to think those words don’t strike a vulnerable spot in my gut, but the hard truth is, they do.
And when they do, I tend to take it hard. When I dig out of that hard spot, I realize all I needed was to be a bit softer. A bit more accepting, yet still honest. And that’s an essential lesson to share explicitly and implicitly with kids.
I’m big on honesty, authenticity and I know we’re all far more vulnerable than we’d like to admit to anyone, especially ourselves. Without honesty, how can there be trust? Without authenticity, how can there be satisfaction or joy? And without vulnerability, how can we grow? How will kids see these are all opportunities for growth if we don’t model that to them?
But when we’re honest, authentic and vulnerable, it if often an uncomfortable spot. You know what I mean – when you face that Hard Truth squarely in the mirror. No sugar-coating, no denials, no excuses, no fixing. Looking into the magnifying mirror can be hard.
When we look authentically about what our role is in the situation, what the role of others is and what the actual reality is (not perception, not what-ifs, not the attachments to history or outcomes), that can be hard, too.
And when we’re vulnerable, we’re at the mercy of the universe and those around us. And often, that’s the hardest of them all because it seems utterly inexplicable and unfair.
On the surface, it doesn’t look like a fabulous destination, does it?
But the truth is, it’s a necessary destination, especially when working with kids and kids and adults. It’s where we grow and learn.
Here are six hard truths I’ve witnessed recently and been called to be honest, authentic and sometimes quite vulnerable recently. We all have our own hard truths, right?
Disclosure: “People” can and does below, apply to people of a variety of ages, stages and places. People of all types can face these hard truths, or their own special blend of Hard Truths.
1. People lose their temper. Hormones and adrenaline rush, hunger and exhaustion and stress take their toll. Actions are taken that are later regrettable.
Hard truth: Apologies are necessary. Calmness must prevail. Resolving anger or frustration physically is not acceptable (unless you are a runner or release those messy emotions in some other physical activity.) Use your words. Always use spoken or written words.
2. Logical and natural consequences are often uncomfortable.
Hard truth: When the cortisol subsides, the picture is often not so bleak, and there are life lessons to be learned. Sometimes it’s in those natural consequences that we grow – as in when you forget your lunch box and nobody delivers it to you at 11 a.m., you might take steps to remember to grab it the next morning.
3. People and things change. Often, that change is uncomfortable or denied. Individual change affects others, and when others are affected, the ecosystem is disrupted.
Hard truth: Life is about change. We have to view that change for what it is and adapt. It’s okay to mourn loss or change, but eventually, we’ve all got to “keep on swimming.” Remember how Lucy moved the football as Linus went to kick? Expect Lucy (or someone else) to move things and be prepared to shift gears so you don’t tumble over.
4. People are imperfect. They mess up. They say things they didn’t mean to say. They forget. They act out of emotions or desire, rather than logic or purpose.
Hard truth: We all do mess up. Everyone walks their own path, with their own obstacles and triumphs. You never know what other challenges someone else is facing. Accept mistakes, be honest if it affects you, and try not to take things too personally. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments without taking those personally, either.
5. Technology, machines and equipment fail. Yes, we’re living the big life with technology everywhere. Your flash drive will break. Your laptop will be hit by a virus. Your phone will get wet. Your child will break that piece of crystal from Great Aunt Mavis. Someone will back into your new car.
Hard Truth: Things “should work,” but they fail. That causes problems, but most of them are fixable. with so many tiny, moving pieces, something will fail at some point or be met with an untimely and unexpected demise. No use in blaming someone, just go ahead and be a part of the fixing.
6. The world is unpredictable. Weather happens. Sickness happens. Friendships and jobs change.
Hard truth: Know yourself, have a support system, and ride the surf. Swami Satchidananda, founder of Integral Yoga, said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
We’ve all got our own hard truths. Rather than lamenting how rotten they might be or putting your head in the sand, stand up to them. Be honest. Be your authentic. Be vulnerable and speak up when you need help and acknowledge what the hard truth feels like. That becomes your jumping off spot for facing those hard truths and moving forward with what comes next. It’s gonna get better after you face those hard truths (see #3).