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Learning to Handle More "Truth"

"The truth will set you free, but first it'll piss you off."

Gloria Steinem

In case it hasn't happened to you yet, or no one has warned you yet: your healing journey will have difficult moments. Some of those moments will be grief filled, some sad, and some will piss you off.

We may get in touch with the realities of how serious harm or abuse was by someone that we had minimized. We may get in touch with anger that we repressed because we weren't allowed to feel angry, or faced even more abuse if we expressed our anger.

Another way "truth" might upset us is learning about own own shortcomings, stemming from survival patterns and trauma responses that caused us or others harm. A good therapist will gently guide us to seeing these blind spots of ours with safety & compassion, rather than forcing us to see something before we're ready and sending us into a shame spiral.

I believe most people want to know about their blind spots, their shadow, or their areas to improve. If someone asked you "hey, do you want to learn something new about yourself that could really improve your life and your relationships?" you'd say "of course!"

But what happens when that information is uncomfortable to hear, or causes us to shut down, become defensive, or even counter-attack? We may not have been as ready as we thought we were to hear that truth.

As a therapist I provide scaffolding for clients to feel safe and strong enough in themselves to face difficult truths. I specialize in getting down to root causes of problematic behaviors and patterns with my clients. This isn't a one or two session event, but a therapist or coach who is skilled can do this work with someone who is ready in several weeks to months.

How can you better prepare yourself to handle the inevitable difficult truths that will arise on your journey?

The first is acknowledging that you (and when I say "you" here, I mean ALL humans on the planet) have room for growth, have blind spots, and have a BUILT IN resistance to change.

Our nervous systems resist change as an evolutionary response.

Imagine your ancestors foraging for food a thousand years ago and they find some new berries. Would you be the first one in line to try them to see if they're poisonous or not? Trying new things in this case could lead to death-and our nervous systems learned to avoid change for thousands of years.

So when you discover some difficult truth about yourself, whether in a therapy or journaling session. . .you may notice those good ole cognitive distortions of minimizing, catastrophizing, all or nothing thinking, denial, or defensiveness kick in. . . to keep you safe.

This is the second step, observing your responses (in your thoughts, emotions, and body responses/actions) to learning some difficult truths.

The third step is meeting it ALL with heaps of self compassion: your shadow or unhealthy patterns and the trauma that created them, your defensiveness or difficulty accepting this new information, and for not "knowing" better sooner.

Be on the lookout for that sneaky but powerful growth stunter: shame.

Remember you aren't a bad person, you aren't "broken" and you don't need to be punished for not knowing these truths about yourself sooner. Indeed, it may be because you pushed these difficult truths down that you were able to survive your trauma.

These small steps can be foundational when we're on a healing, truth seeking journey.

And PS: these steps are also crucial in the unlearning/deprogramming/decolonizing journey. . .

Sending you lots of compassion on your healing, deprogramming, decolonizing journey!

With Compassion,

Cassandra Solano, LCSW

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