The practice of telling the truth is one that deepens throughout our lifespan.  And yet, along the relational trauma recovery road, it’s very common for recovering people-pleasers and perfectionists to wonder, “How do I tell the truth?” Sometimes, there’s visible embarrassment when clients admit aloud their realization —they’ve never been taught how to tell the truth, although commanded by the adults during their upbringing to “just tell the truth.” I see the look in their eyes as they wonder if they will be viewed differently or assumed to be a pathological liar. To which, I reassure them, “we mostly practice what we’ve been taught”. Even in our society there is an expected application of honesty, without teaching us how to cultivate honesty sacredly in our everyday lives. Especially, in the context of social media use. 

Additionally, it’s very common for those who have experienced challenging beginnings in their development, to have had adults in their lives project a public persona that was far different than a private persona at home.  With this in mind, learning how to tell the truth becomes more woven in complexity if you happened to have been raised by emotionally immature caregivers. Especially, if your concerns were ever minimized, disregarded, or you were ever prompted to withhold certain information from public sharing for fear of getting a loved one in trouble, effecting the family’s image, or experiencing rejection.  It makes sense that deciphering how to tell the truth from a place of wholeness and freedom, would be puzzling.

These days, I think more about the practice of learning how to tell truth as I consider how I will teach my toddler to practice telling the truth. As you may have assumed, toddlers are indeed wildly brave, joyfully energetic, and willfully explorative human beings. Therefore, I can only consider that the practice of telling the truth must also include normalizing the discomfort of fearing rejection while being honest or the sympathetic tension in the nervous system that arises out of anticipation of conflict if/when telling the truth, or how the care bonds in relationships can cause one to constrict their truth for fear of not having control-autonomy—clarity, or of disappointing others. 

In short, the work of learning how to tell the truth is one that is not absent from normalizing the discomforts that may arise, the survival strategies that are often unconscious, the real possibility of not receiving the response that you would like when sharing honestly, and connecting to your authentic self through the three centers intelligence – mind, heart, and body.  Nervous system regulation plays a pivotal role in deepening the practice of learning how to tell the truth throughout our lifespan. Which makes a lot of sense as to why society expects the application of honesty without cultivating the teachings of honesty. To attempt to do so would be to acknowledge the truth of how many disparities contribute to the dysregulated nervous systems of human beings throughout the world, even in those appearing to be high-functioning or high-achieving.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely on the road of learning and practicing how to tell the truth or needing a bit of support on how to get started or even acclimate to a new dimension of speaking truth from wholeness and freedom. If so, please contact me as I’d love to be of support. As a Psychotherapist, Enneagram and Integral Coach, I can help you integrate the many truths in you while uncovering untruths.

Carmelle Ellison, LCSW

I help high-achieving adults, especially in the BIPOC community live authentically wholesome lives via telehealth therapy throughout California.


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