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Seven Things You Need to Know Before You Tell the Truth

I booked a month at the beach this August with the intention of writing, relaxing, cooking, doing yoga, getting a great tan, and spending quality time with other people I love who value space, green, slowing down, turning in, and chilling out. I am an ardent believer in the power of intention, but this belief is trumped by my deep knowing that, in the words of the great Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find . . . You get what you need.”

Apparently, this summer what I needed—what my soul was longing for way more than a month of relaxation and introspection—was a lesson in taking a stand and telling the truth. (Necessary digression: It turns out when you name your blog “AuthentiKate,” the universe conspires to give you all sorts of lovely lessons and opportunities to not just walk the walk, but to strut the strut with a full-on swagger when it comes to telling it like it is. And at times, like during the month of August on my “vacation,” I sometimes wished I had named my blog “Fakin’ Kate” or something equally ripe with opportunities to sugarcoat the truth or wield smoke and mirrors. Sometimes the truth just sucks. It’s certainly not the easy path. Nope. It’s the mossy one that’s overgrown with vines, the one that’s poorly lit, muddy, and echoing with the screeches and moans of unidentified animals. It’s the scarier one. But it’s apparently the one that I’ve chosen.)

As much as I want to go into gory details of the many situations that transpired this month that squeezed me so hard I felt I had the choice to either tell the truth and take a stand for myself or suffocate, I will abstain for the following reasons: 1. I fear that illustrating the stories outright will add to my emotional charge around them. 2. I’d prefer to use vagueness to protect the anonymity of those involved. 3. As much as I talk about how the more specific we can be, the more universal and relatable our truth becomes, this is a time when I don’t think the details really matter.

Instead of composing what had the distinct possibility of becoming an overly emotional and somewhat unprocessed written diarrhea of the summer’s challenges, I’m going to try a different route and just stick with the lessons. Here are my Seven Truths About the Truth:

1.     The time is now. There is no right time or place for the truth. The perfect time for telling it like it is always lies in the present moment, reporting live from how you feel right now. Telling the truth in real time, rather than 24 or 48 hours later when you’ve had time to stew, marinate, and create a slow-cooked, falling-off-the-bones, tender roast of your version of the truth, simply makes more sense. Emotions, reality, perspectives, and sensations are so transient that, in a way, the only time the truth is relevant is right now. Just as the longer you go without taking out the garbage, the more it stinks, the longer you wait to tell the truth, the harder it becomes and the more rank it becomes from an energetic, emotional-charge perspective. Tell it now while it’s only vaguely odorous.

2.     The truth stands alone. The point of telling the truth is not to change someone’s behavior or get a desired outcome. The value of telling the truth is in owning your power, owning your perspective, and validating your experience through words. Taking a stand for oneself by telling the truth is worth it as an act of self-love and saying, “Hey! I’m here. I matter,” even if you’re the only person who hears it. The truth is not about changing someone else; it’s about honoring yourself. Just because someone doesn’t receive your truth with an open heart and an open mind doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth telling and doesn’t invalidate it. The value in your truth doesn’t come from how it lands (though there are certainly ways of telling it in more friendly ways than others). The value in your truth comes simply from telling it.

3.     The truth changes lives. The truth brings people closer together and is life-altering. As a cowboy who was helping me train a horse in Arizona once said, “The biggest gift you can ever give another living being is your truth.” Clarity and honesty works with horses and it sure as hell works with people. Last week I sat across a blanket on the beach from someone I love and told her some things that were not easy to say and were not easy for her to hear. And both of our willingness to get incredibly uncomfortable in that moment by cracking open our hearts to let the truth out and let it in bonded us in a way that would have been impossible had I not been willing to lay it down.

4.     The truth is never too late. This may seem totally in conflict with number one, but the second thing I learned about telling the truth is that it’s never too late. Based on Truth About the Truth #3, the truth—your truth—is life-changing. It’s never too late to take out smelly garbage. It’s never too late to lay it down straight.

5.     Take a stand for someone else’s truth. Sometimes you must be willing to stand for someone else’s truth when they’re not able to see it or hear it for themselves. I heard my aunt Penny tell a story about climbing to Mt. Everest Base Camp at 17,600 feet with my grandmother, Edna, this past May (my granny is the oldest woman to ever successfully make that trek). Penny talked about a moment on the trek when my grandmother was really sick and wasn’t sure she could go on and all of her doubt began to come up in that insidious way that it tends to do when we’re challenged. Penny talked about standing for her mother (my grandmother) and for the truth that she was unable to see for herself in that moment: that she could make the trek if, and only if, she was willing to receive the help that was available to her. Because of Penny’s firm resolve and deep belief in Granny, she was able to accept help and made it to Mt. Everest Base Camp.

6.     The truth gets fuzzy around the word “versus.” The truth is clouded by blame, competitiveness, reactivity, separation, and polarization. When we see things as right vs. wrong, you vs. me, black vs. white, and us vs. them, everything gets muddled and we can no longer see straight. I had an incredibly upsetting experience this week in which I was harshly blamed for something that someone had decided I had done based on inadequate evidence and intense reactivity. In my state of hurt, shock, and self-protection, I began to see her as perpetrator and me as victim, while I simultaneously began to beat myself up for what was, in essence, a miscommunication that we were both responsible for. When my dear friend helped me see how I was polarizing myself from this woman, the truth suddenly crystallized and I was able to see the situation for what it was: a simple case of mismanaged expectations and miscommunications. No blame. No right or wrong. Just a conversation that should have happened and never did. The relief that came from seeing the situation through the loving eyes of connection and collaboration was soul-nourishing.

7.     The truth wins every time. Whether you’re writing, speaking in public, acting, or simply talking with someone one on one, the truth is the most intoxicatingly compelling material you have. No matter how genius your shtick is or how brilliant your comic timing, the truth will always be more captivating than anything pre-planned or packaged. Two weeks ago I spoke in front of 3,000 people at the USANA International Convention about social media and writing a blog and, besides a few bullet points, I didn’t plan a thing. Instead, I held the microphone, felt my feet grounded on the stage, and told the truth. I talked about my identity crisis last fall and how I had to start writing a blog in order to carve out a space where I could be me, undefined by Team Northrup or being my mother’s daughter, and people loved it. I got an overwhelmingly positive response from people in the audience. They were inspired and moved to take action and tell the truth in their own ways. And it felt great to know that rather than a well-polished speech, I had delivered content that was fresh, vibrant, and real that was emotionally moving and motivating. (Plus I got asked for my autograph for the first time, which was really trippy and totally fun – see picture to the left…that’s me in the white dress.)

The truth captivates us. We can’t take our eyes away from it. My friend Josh Pais, founder and teacher of Committed Impulse, points out that kids and animals will always upstage actors because they can’t help but tell the truth and we can’t help but be fascinated by it. Next time you’re speaking or writing, channel that dog or child, strip away the layers, and let the truth win.

I’m sure there are more than seven truths about the truth, but these are mine for now. Perhaps one day I will develop this into some sort of truth manifesto or something. But for now I’m still practicing with the truth . . . telling a little bit more each and every day. Learning how to do it with grace, love, and wisdom. Learning how to tell it in a way that changes lives . . . mine most of all.

How did you learn to tell the truth?

What are some truths about truth that you’ve discovered?

Do you have a story about telling the truth you’d be willing to share?

What’s true for you right in this very moment?


  • Beautiful! Well done Kate.
    Even reading about truth-telling feels refreshing.

  • Well, I’m glad for you, in a way, that your vacation didn’t go as planned! This post is so eloquently written. I keep coming across amazing inspiration like this… I’m hoping someday soon I’ll have enough inspiration to tip the scales and really, fully live my truth every day. For now, it’s baby steps! My truth, in this very moment, is that I’m scared of just taking giant leaps instead, and stepping into the flow of life and truth and passion. I don’t know why it’s scary because I know that only good things would come of it. It seems absurd that I’m basically waiting for a good kick in the behind to really live, like I need an excuse or a life-changing event or something. *snaps out of it* (I should probably save the deep contemplation for my blog — or diary, even! lol) Anyways, I just wanted to say: awesome post, well written, and thank you very much for sharing it!

  • Adeah

    I found your blog post via facebook…it is right in line with what I am discovering in my life. Truth is a powerful tool that for me has a shadow of mystery. My coping skill in life has been to please everyone at all costs. Now I am paying the cost of this skill! Like anything unknown I am experiencing fear and doubt about living in complete authentic truth. I am finding that dipping my toe in to test the water is only creating more fear around being authentic. And it is your truth Kate which helps me get closer to belly flopping into a life of authenticity.

  • Jenny

    Thank you for this! It makes my own truth much clearer. It’s amazing how one’s truth gets covered in grime.

  • Wonderful article Kate, as always with your blogs they inspire me. I love what you say too, Amy. I feel similarly. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable can be difficult, but when we do allow our vulnerability to be seen and felt by ourselves and others, we really do experience life to the fullest.

  • Kate,
    Do you even know how brilliant you are at expressing yourself? I would imagine you already know that writing a book is in your future. I am actually going to save this post and re-read it, because it was a good reminder of the freedom that comes with telling your truth. I have recently discovered the value of being myself, exposing as much of who I am as possible and telling my truth as I meet and get to know new people. It weeds out people who are not like-minded, and it draws in people who are. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • The truth always was. (and so many things i cannot write, my natural inclination to spill spill spill, but with love i hold back) And the ACCEPTANCE of the truth is an amazing thing. This is happening with me now. After so much squirming and fighting and resisting, now I am starting to accept the truth. Oh baby. (thank you for this kate!)

  • Kate!
    Thank you so much for writing this, an amazing article! You are an awesome writer I enjoyed every word!! This is great because this is something that I am currently working on is living in my truth and speaking my truth each day. It is refreshing!!
    Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring!

  • noah levy

    so very proud of you my kate xoxoox

  • luke karam

    I LOVE YOU TOO!!!!

  • Hallie Holland

    This post is very timely! Isn’t it all! I am going to pass this post on to my 17 y.o. son who is in the process of discovering his own truth and what does it mean to tell the truth. Truth is all we have as each moment. I find myself every day with the choice of showing up or not and telling the truth is a part of that. Thanks Kate for showing up for yourself and for showing up in front of millions!! You are uniquely Kate! ~ Hallie

  • Fabulous Kate. You are truly evolving into your own, incredible woman. I honor you and your honesty and respect your courage and vulnerability so very much! Lots of love.

  • Thorougly enjoyed this, Kate. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Rochelle

    Hey Kate!

    I’m just about to sit down and work and going through my emails from the weekend and opening this one felt like opening a treasure chest. You have an amazing ability to take simple ‘truths’ and put them in their most meaningful context…our lives. Everything you speak of, you illustrate through the way it plays out in your life, making the reader not only engaged but making it so easy to relate to. I am so grateful for the authenticity you have committed yourself to as it inspires and delights me in my own. Gratitude Sister. Keep writing, we love it.

  • Donna

    Kate, Thank you for writing this. You are so eloquent and deep in your projection of thoughts. I read and appreciated every word you wrote. While I live my life in’s so frustrating for me to work around people who don’t recognize what their real truth is in their life as they wear their falsehood on their sleeves and project it out to the world as their false truth. We can only be and work on who we are as a soul and spirit and other’s will do as they will with us , without us, and to us. You keep projecting your positives out to the world and we will be there for you to receive them and appreciate them. When I look at your picture and see how spontaneous that shot is in a moment of your life that you are the happiest..That picture is your truth.

  • In fact, telling the truth in a critical situation is not easy. It hurts amiss people to hear the truth, but it heals like medicine. I believe the number 4 reminds us of clearing the feeling of guilt after denying the truth. Indeed, it is never too late to say the truth ONLY if you still have breath in you.

  • Melody

    Thank you for the great post! I’m wondering about the part where you say to tell the truth with all your emotion, not later…I get where you’re coming from with that, but in order to ensure things don’t escalate, it seems like a good idea to do it using the Peaceful Communication in a Violent World method…I haven’t looked through your other parts to see if you follow that method or any other method. You seem pretty aware, so I’m sure you try to deliver your truth with care and compassion… But that is difficult when angry or defensive. I’d be interested in your perspective on that.

    • Kate Northrup

      I agree – giving it some space makes way more sense. Given that I wrote this post many years ago I’ve changed my tune a bit since then :)

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