Speaking my truth at Costco

October 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

Have you ever been put on the spot by a request?  How do you respond when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do?  Sometimes we can learn quite a bit about ourselves from seemingly insignificant encounters.

Last weekend I found myself in this very position, of needing to respond to a request that I didn’t want to accommodate.  It was a Saturday morning, and I had dashed into Costco to buy a pair of knockoff Uggs for my daughter.  I found the boots, tossed about five more items into my basket and headed for the check out.  As I positioned myself in line,  I glanced at the clock on my phone and noticed that I was running 10 minutes late for my next appointment. A few moments later, a woman took her place behind me in line. She was carrying one bag of dog food. Do you see where this is going?

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her eyeing my basket.  Sure enough, when it was almost my turn to check out, she asked me if she could go ahead of me. I briefly weighed the circumstances:  I had six things, while she had only one, but I was running late, and she had strolled up to the line, implying that all was well with her schedule.   Oh – and I had gotten there first.

I told her in a friendly voice, “I’m sorry, but I’m running late. Otherwise, I would.”  She frowned and snapped, “Yes, I’m sure you’re all heart on every day but today.”   I was taken aback by her anger and, with a tight little shrug, said the first thing that popped into my mind. “Well,” I replied, “it’s just that I have heart for myself, too.”  The woman took in my words and her face cleared.  She softened and said, “That makes sense.”  And that was it.  I paid for my merchandise and left the store.

There was a time, many years ago, when I would have meekly allowed the woman to go ahead of me, simply because she wanted to.  Then, more recently, during my surly period, I would have told her no just because I could. Had she snapped at me, I would have snapped back and tried to back her down with the force of my will. It would have been an unpleasant moment for both of us.

Then there came a time on my own personal path when I  began to value my truth over my comfort.  I discovered that if I give in to someone just to make things easy on myself, it isn’t the same thing as kindness.  Instead of feeling generous, it makes me feel cowardly, wimpy, and resentful.

Now, in my coaching practice, I encourage my clients to tell the truth, especially in their intimate relationships.  They are often afraid of the consequences – that if they voice their true feelings, it will start a fight, or they will be perceived as mean, or that they have no right to their opinion anyway.  And, in a way, their fears of conflict are justified. Sharing our deepest feelings when everyone is in agreement is comforting and pleasurable, but when we are feeling attacked, our truth can seem inadequate and thin.  In the instant between when I spoke honestly to the woman at Costco and when she softened, I felt vulnerable and too open.  But the truth turned out to be the only solid ground available to me in that moment.

We learn who our true self is by sharing that person with others. When we share a false self, we don’t give our souls the information they need to grow.  We lose the opportunity to see our true selves mirrored back to us by the person with whom we are interacting; however, the tremendous power of speaking truth is only available to us if we know what our truth is.  Be open to what’s real for you in every moment, and rest in that truth like a boulder.  Once you recognize your truth, you will see that it often changes from moment to moment like a flowing river.  Every shift brings another opportunity for growth and self-awareness.

Truth, spoken from the heart, can heal a fractured moment in surprising ways, and we are all hardwired to need this type of communication above all others.

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