They say that the truth will often set you free. But for some, it’s going to make them angry first, and that’s usually directed at the person who spoke the truth.
In the last couple of months I’ve engaged in a few public and personal conversations about health with different people. Specifically speaking, some of the factors that have been found to contribute to poor physical and mental health, from unhealthy food through to excessive use of gaming.
Everyone has an opinion about these, and depending on your own personal health behaviours, the discussion can go from civil to unreasonable rather quickly.
Most of us know the lifestyle factors that contribute to ill health in developed countries, like Australia. They start teaching this at primary school. Smoking, excessive alcohol use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition being the big ones. Yes, we’ve also been fed with conflicting information over the years that’s been a little more misleading, like fat is bad. Other times we’ve needed a little more personalised information that’s tailored to our own body requirements and circumstances, which at times can be confusing.
But for the most part, we’ve got the gist of what we should be doing to live a long and healthy life.
But when it comes down to someone pointing out that perhaps our own behaviours may be contributing to our current health issues, whether they be physical or mental, the deliverer of the news often cops it either aggressively or passive aggressively. For me, who is often the bearer of these opinions, it means that people can become quite resistant, defensive and well, annoyed at me.
I’m sure I’m not the first person to get my head bitten off when I’ve suggested someone think about changing a behaviour that may be having a negative effect on them. And I’m not the first person to get irked at other people who suggest that I change a few of my ways.
We don’t like being in physical or mental distress, and then being informed that perhaps we contributed to it. We don’t like people telling us to take responsibility for what’s happening to us. We don’t like people reflecting back to us what we are. So we bite back, deny, blame, avoid or do whatever else we can to take the onus off ourselves.
But perhaps the irritation that rises inside of us as a result of an unsolicited opinion is not because you disagree, but because there is an element of truth there. Something has touched a nerve.
Some people who are actually not partaking in wholesome health activities aren’t always ready to hear what needs to be said. We’ve all experienced it with family and friends. Sometimes they don’t think that it’s an issue and brush it off, they might think we’re exaggerating, sometimes they give us all the answers as to why their habit is not a problem. Whatever reason, all pushes to change are not welcome.
But what if we thought hard about why people annoy us, and realise that it often isn’t about them but rather us.
Like back in school, we got upset about the red pen marks, the crosses on our work and the bad grades. Yes the teacher sucked at the time, but truth be told, they were right, we were wrong and if we listened to them in the first place we would have received a better grade.
People only get mad and defensive about certain topics when they know they’re guilty. And you see this all the time with unhealthy behaviours that have led to sickness. Defences are up all around.
So perhaps next time someone irritates you, have a think about why that is. Is it actually something about them, or has that person’s words triggering something within you that you already know is right.
If there is truth in what they are saying, then instead of projecting your anger on to them, redirect the information to yourself. After all, it wouldn’t have bothered you if there wasn’t an element of personal truth in there.
So yes, the truth can hurt, be inconvenient and sometimes annoying, but it can also puts you on the path to healing and preventing a whole heap of problems for you in the future.
The truth is better for you.