The expression “the truth hurts” is one we are very familiar with. We resist telling the truth to ourselves and to others because it is painful to face a reality that is different from the comfortable worlds we create for ourselves. Eventually, these worlds will fall away as reality intrudes. Don’t be afraid of reality. Use it to your advantage. Here are nine harsh truths that will allow you to see the world more clearly and offer you the opportunity to live more powerful and authentic lives:
1. You are not the center of the universe
We tend to think people care about us and our needs as much as we do. They don’t. They care about themselves and their needs.
Opportunity: Use this to your advantage. Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” said “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” Ziz Ziglar puts it even more plainly when he said “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”
2. Achieving your goals will be harder than you imagined
It always is. Whether it’s losing weight, starting a new business, writing a blog, raising a family, you will encounter this truth.
Opportunity: I once heard this advice about exercising that will change the way you approach life difficulties: “When you think you can’t do another rep, or take another step, go a little further. It is those little extra steps that make all the difference.” When you feel like quitting, go a little further. This is where breakthrough lives.
3. The things that matter most in life are spiritual, not physical
It’s easy to accumulate things in order to feel like you have accomplished something. Most rich people (the honest ones) will tell you that it only makes a difference in the short term. It’s harder to grasp the spiritual, or immaterial. They cannot be collected, hoarded, bought, or sold. These are love, respect, passion, morality and empathy. These things are all about relationships. In the end, relationships are all that matter.
Opportunity: Learn to appreciate this truth and you will be freed from materialism. You will be happy when you have a lot and when you have a little. You will learn to cherish the important relationships in your lives.
4. You will always have critics
You could be the nicest person on earth, someone out there will not like you for who you are, what you do, or what you stand for. You simply cannot be all things to all people.
Opportunity: Stop trying to be all things to all people. Focus on your natural strengths. The people who appreciate these will form a strong tribe around you. Caveat, the number of your critics will increase but this will be a sign of success.
5. If you are not failing, you are not living
We tend to like to play it safe. We don’t like to fail. We don’t like being vulnerable to rejection. The most successful, happiest people have failed multiple times. The harsh truth is that you cannot achieve the tangible and intangible signs of success if you are not willing to fail.
Opportunity: Don’t be afraid of failure. Consider every setback as a step toward success. You will be released from the invisible chains that keep people from trying new things or daring to pursue a dream.
6. In order to receive, you must give
One of the quickest paths to unhappiness is hoarding. It is hard to give away the things we value. But if we hoard, the thing we cherish will lose its value and will instead become a burden.
Opportunity: Lighten your load. Give of your resources, time, and self. You will be cured of your spiritual obesity.
7. People will hurt you
It may happen intentionally or unintentionally. It still hurts. They may say something unkind, steal from you, lie to you, spread rumors about you, be difficult coworkers or bosses, etc.
Opportunity: Don’t be tempted to strike back. Show grace to this person. Forgive them. Your example will give them an opportunity to transform their lives. You will also experience more peace in difficult situations.
8. You do not control every part of your reality
Things often do not go the way we expect. There are always unanticipated problems or blind spots you just could not anticipate.
Opportunity: Become more flexible and nimble. This will keep you from getting stuck.
9. You will die.
We all know it but nobody says it quite that bluntly. We pretend that we have all the time in the world. You don’t. Every second is a precious, limited resource. Not only that, for most of us, we do not know when death will come. When it does, it will likely be a painful experience.
Opportunity: Stop procrastinating. Live. Learn. Love. Know that suffering and pain are a part of life. You will become more resilient and even joyful in the face of suffering. The unimportant will be stripped away. It will sharpen your focus on what matters most.
May these truths be a starting point for a life that is authentic, loving, rich, and fearless.
May they “set you free.”