Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

Truth is not a hammer or an axe


winterI see him in the dark, outside my office window.  He is struggling. Trying to pedal his bike through the snow drift. He pumps down on one pedal. Balances for one moment, one pedal up, one down, body extended. He teeters. Weaves. Loses momentum. Stops. Tries again. Finally, after several attempts he gets off his bike, moves it out to the middle of the road where the snow is less deep and bike on one side of his body, starts to run and push his bike.

Success! He gets enough momentum to hop on and keep pedalling.

He is still 6 blocks from the main road. I wonder how many times he’ll have to repeat the motion before he gets there.

We got dumped on yesterday and through the night. Snow and blowing winds, blizzard conditions.

Letting Ellie the wonder pooch out this morning was exercise enough. The howling winds had pushed the snow up against the door. I considered donning my boots and coat and mitts and toque on top of my pjs so that I could go through the front door and around the house to the backyard. Except. The side gate is also snowed in. Back to option one.

I pushed and pushed at the back door until I had enough room between the door and the snow for Ellie to escape. She had to leap across the drifts to reach the yard. Brave girl. She did it and within moments was back at the door waiting to get back in.

Marley the Great Cat considered going out but after a few moments of sitting on the front porch, he reversed his decision and high-tailed it back into the house.

My animals are smarter than that bicyclist I think.

I appreciate his commitment to the environment. But really? I think he’s crazy.

And I’m sure he doesn’t care. I’m sure that for him this is his thing. His way of making a footprint on this earth that benefits all.

Except, I wonder about the safety of riding your bike in this weather. I don’t mean the cold (when I jogged my cut-off for outside jogging was -20C so I get that you can dress for the weather), but when the roads are clogged with drifted snow and ice, how safe can anyone be on a bicycle? How much stability and control does one really have on roads like this? And what about the drivers? Their tires are spinning at intersections and four wheel drive or not, ice is ice and doesn’t leave much room for normal stopping and control.

Sometimes, we get so fixated on an idea or ideal, we forget to consider, what is the right thing to do in these circumstances?

I was reminded this morning of my penchant to affix myself to an ideal by my friend Ann over  at The Year of Living Non-Judgementally. Ann writes about ‘saying the wrong thing’ and in her words, I felt myself cringe. I have been known to say the wrong thing sometimes. Not because I wanted to hurt or cause pain in another, but rather because, in my quest to awaken them to what I consider to be ‘the ideal’, or to speak my truth, I have let go of asking — what is the right thing to do in this circumstance for all truth to have room to be heard?

When trying to help a friend see that their desire to talk about a situation again and again was what their problem was, not the situation, I trod harshly upon their heart.

Not my job.

Yes, speaking the truth is my responsibility. But truth should never be delivered as a hammer or an axe. Truth deserves to be spoken so that others can hear.

Awhile ago when I was at a community association meeting and someone was yelling at me as an official from the foundation I work for, I asked them to please not yell. “It’s important I hear what you have to say, and I can’t hear you when you’re yelling,” I told them.

That was the truth and in speaking it, they heard me and chose to say what they had to say in a way that I could hear. In hearing them and in feeling heard, we were able to work on finding common ground. A Win/win for both of us.

But when truth is spoken for me to win and you to lose, it is not truth. It is me reacting in fear, or judgement, or loathing or a whole host of non-productive emotions that position you for failure. In the end, it creates a lose/lose because in overriding your truth, I lose the things I want most in my life and in all my relationships — kindness, fairness, respect, consideration, communication, connection, Love…

I watched a man push his bicycle through the snow this morning. When I ignore the reality of the weather outside, or the conditions within, I too become fixated on my goals, my needs, my singular belief in my right to do what I want because it’s what I want. To paraphrase John Dunne, I am not an island and when I act as if this planet gives me carte blanche to ignore the world around me, I create all that I don’t want in this world of wunder. I create my own failure to thrive.


Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

16 thoughts on “Truth is not a hammer or an axe

  1. I was the recipient of a hurtful wrong thing that I suppose in retrospect, was meant to awaken and not to hurt, but it hurt nonetheless and has changed the relationship. The speaker does not acknowledge the ugliness of her hurtful comment and I feel I can no longer trust her which saddens me. She continues to harp and use her words as weapons ~ all in the mode of helping me which is not helping.
    Your wrong thing was easily forgiven because you acknowledged the hurt and that is what makes all the difference. I wish you could talk to my speaker and explain what you know in your heart. I try to forgive, but because it continues, I feel that I keep getting beat up. I’m sorry to be such a downer to you, but your post sparked forgiveness by letting me see your side as the speaker. I just wish it had been you who had said the wrong thing to me instead.
    Keep loving, speaking and being from your heart. xo


    • Hello lovely Yvonne — I do not look at your comment as a downer — but as beautiful, heartfelt truth that awakens and reminds me to always ‘be kind’ in all things.

      I had a friend who I no longer connect with because she once called me ‘unkind’. She knew how important being kind was to me and used my word ‘ kind’ as a knife to hurt me because what I had said hurt her. I acknowledged my wrong-doing, but she never connected to how hurtful her words were to me — and in the end, because like you I did not feel safe around her, I let that friendship go.

      We have to make choices that support us, celebrate our strengths and courage and beauty and create more of what we want in our lives, and sometimes, that means letting go of those who no longer ‘fit’. Doesn’t mean they’rewrong or that I’m judging them, it means I am standing up for what is right and true for me. Doesn’t give me the right to be cruel to them, it does give me the right to be kind to both of us, and if in being in relationship with them I will continue to harbour fear and resentment — I am better to forgive and let go than to pretend like I’m a saint, or a martyr, or willing to put myself at risk.

      Blessings my beautiful friend.



      • Beautifully said and understood. It is unfortunate for me that it is a family member whom I see often. I am working on forgiving and moving on ~ and being aware that their words are simply daggered. I intend to not pay attention anymore to them ~ nor to the person. I simply breathe peace when I am in their audience and like a duck, I allow their words to slide off of my back without stopping. It is easier said than done, but it is my peacefulness inside which is important to me ~ that and to be kind to them as well as myself. Big hugs xo Again, our connection is much appreciated. I am sorry for your friend’s unkind words as I do not see you as a person who is unkind at all, but quite the opposite. xo


  2. A good post Louise! I try to speak in LOVE and if I’m not feeling the love, I wait. BTW, back in the day, I rode my mountain bike in the winter too!


  3. It’s important I hear what you have to say, and I can’t hear you when you’re yelling … it strikes a cord with me. Yelling implies fear or other emotions that are grounded in a human trait that goes something like “I’d feel better if you would just change”. That doesn’t make sense. We can only change ourselves, so if we want to start the process it starts with our ears and then moves to our heart … which then speaks of its feelings and asks, not tells, what it needs.


  4. Many thanks for this thoughtful post, Louise. I am honored to be quoted by you.


  5. A great post, as you know I try not to say hurtful things to people while at the same time always speaking the truth but at times it is hard to do so I say nothing as I don’t want to hurt and then kick myself for not speaking up makes one thing of the saying sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind………………


    • That is always an interesting aspect of this Joanne — to speak up and not be cruel. Because staying silent is not the option I choose — but speaking my truth with love and kindness can be challenging. Disagreement does not equal rejection — how to hear that and live that with kindness in my heart is a good stretch! 🙂


  6. I agree about the yelling. Whenever anyone yells at me, I feel they are blaming me for something, and I begin to act defensively.
    The same message delivered in moderate tone produces a far better reaction / action from me. I hope in reverse that I remember to deliver any of my requests respectfully.


    • Yes Elizabeth — I too share that sense of ‘ it’s all my fault’ and then my defensiveness kicks in. It’s my 5 year old — she felt unheard and unseen — and now, she just sometimes stamps her psychic feet and I am off and running — away from love into fear! 🙂 So, staying present, honouring my truth and the other’s is key to not feeling unheard and unseen, and to still know, I am Love. Hugs


  7. Telling the truth is sometimes like walking on thin ice or beating someone up with your words. But there are times it has to be said. I ask myself if this is going to hurt anyone by NOT speaking the truth. Will it honestly be helpful or do I just think I know better than them? I tell them that I noticed something and would like to try to understand why they did such and such and then really listen. My judgments stop cold in their tracks when I have heard their side of things before I said a word. Usually we both end up learning something. And it usually ends up with a “thank you for trusting me and sharing”. I abhor any kind of confrontation, but there are times something has to be said. I had to fire someone for starting rumors and spreading lies about their co-workers. I had to confront her with letters from said co-workers and then at her request face to face with them. She said she felt picked on, humiliated by our lies and stormed out of there calling us all names. We were all shocked at her accusations and behaviour, but the truth is that everything became smooth again after she left, so the truth became obvious.


  8. I agree Sheryl — it is important to speak the truth, lovingly – not to beat someone up, but to be vulnerable, honest and open. How another hears, perceives, takes what I say is their choice — as long as I know that I came from a loving heart, my heart is peaceful.

    Sorry to hear about your co-worker — that does happen though doesn’t it? Someone can’t face the feedback and runs, blaming those left behind for their failure to thrive.

    Hugs to you my friend. Lovely to see you. We are due a tea and visit!


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