03 Dec Act on the Truth
There’s a framed sign in my office that sits on the windowsill behind a couch. On it are these words – Act on the Truth. This little saying came out of my mouth many years ago while working with a long time client, Carol (not her real name), who after some really great strides was still struggling. She expressed to me one day how sad and frustrated she still felt even after we had carefully and painstakingly confronted some really big issues from her past. My heart went out to her because her bravery had still not brought the peace she sought.
As we talked that day, it occurred to me that so much of our work had been a search for what was true for her. How she had defined herself as a child was distorted by the terrible circumstances in which she had grown up. She had always seen herself one way when in fact who she really was and what she really was capable of was quite different from that. As I said, she did some great work.
But at this moment, we realized that she had yet to translate her new truths into the realm of how she actually went about living her life. So I said to her, “Carol, you need to act on the truth.” That became a defining moment of our work and clarified for me a foundational idea of my work in general.
You see, I think we are all still growing and that, in a very simplistic way, we are either growing in our understanding of what is true for us or growing by living the realities of those truths. Both are fundamentally important but what I see in therapy is that most struggling people tend toward one or the other. There are those who love the talk, the defining, and the exploration. I call them my truth seekers. Then there are those who are all about “what should I do” or “give me a plan”. In the worst case, they can even be quite impulsive in their behavior. These are my actors.
Therapy then takes on this tone. I am either trying to get the actors to slow down and search a little harder for truth before they act or I am trying to get some of the truth seekers to translate their growing understanding into how they live their lives. The principles of acting and searching are different but connected in that they rely on one another to be fully realized. So I ask, are you a truth seeker or an actor? Both are great and necessary but in the end, it’s about both. It’s about learning to Act on the Truth.