People Don’t Need Protection; They Need Truth!
This situation is familiar to all of us: Something bad happens and we don’t want a loved one to know because we think it will devastate them. You’ve been in such a situation, haven’t you?
People often think that they ought to protect their loved ones by not telling them the bad news. And I’m not talking about young children who are not mature enough to face predicaments. I’m talking about holding back bad news from your spouse, intimate partner, adult offspring, best friend, business partner, supervisor at work etc.
All of us are tempted to keep private a crisis or an endeavor gone bad from people that have a direct interest in that circumstance. And we say we do that to protect them.
The Misused Notion Of Protection
The truth is only rarely we do it to protect others. We actually do it to protect ourselves from the consequences. We are afraid to deal with the aftermath, whether it’s a seemingly simple situation of our mother breaking into tears. For most people an angry word coming out from their monther’s mouth seems impossible to deal with.
We create a story in our heads in advance which is a thriller of how things will turn out as worse as they can. For example, a youngster who’s gay and wants to come out to his/her parents will say he/she wants to protect them and not make them sad. The reality is though that this young person is afraid of having to deal with comments, anger, questions, tears, and other long-term consequences that will change his/her daily life, and compromising their comfort zone.
That is why some people will choose to “protect” others by not disclosing the truth. And then most of the time the person will find out what happened and will ask us “Why didn’t you say?” and the obvious answer will be “I didn’t want to upset you…” or “I wanted to protect you”. Well, how often does this really turn out to be appreciated by the other side? How often does this really prove in retrospect to have been the right choice?
In my opinion almost never. On the contrary:
Truth Is The Only Way
One or two times in my life, I didn’t say the whole truth, in fact I lied. And you know what? I regretted it after a while. When the other person found out the truth, they didn’t think I tried to protect them. The felt like they were cheated, not respected and maybe even ridiculed.
When you lie to people you cannot get away with it. They will eventually find out. And even if your humble goal was to protect them, they feel demeaned or scammed and they will start wondering if their trust on you was worth it all the time.
Moreover, meaningful relationships are based on saying the truth. Only truth can earn you trust, love, deep communication and understanding. A lie, even if it’s based on the purest of intentions, will create negative feelings to the person involved.
Truth Will Protect People You Love
There is an indigenous fault in the process of trying to protect somebody with a lie. You understand that you cannot do any good based on a wrong behavior such as lying. On the contrary, good can be done based on a positive thing, such as truthful intentions.
It is also my opinion that truth is what really protects people. It might expose them to temporary anger, sadness, anxiety or pain but in the mid- and long-term they will be thankful because you helped them be stronger and not living in a lie. For me, truth is the only way, and you have to find the strength to choose to be bold and honest every time.
You are not responsible nor can you control how other people feel, no matter how much you want to. But it is your responsibility to honor your loved ones by sharing the truth with them.