How to Relate to People With Low Truth Alignment

The first chapter of my book Personal Development for Smart People is called “Truth” because truth alignment is one of the fundamental principles of personal growth. In order to grow intelligently, we must face and accept reality in as many areas of life as we can. This often involves confronting and dealing with unpleasant truths that we’ve been avoiding for some time.

If we don’t get aligned with truth, we slide into falsehoods and denial, which can slow us down tremendously. Have you seen the lack of truth alignment playing out in the world recently? It’s hard not to notice it these days.

When we invite, face, and accept more truth alignment into our lives, we may feel tense, anxious, or resistant at first, but it can lead to a tremendous new flow of energy in a fresh direction when we finally surrender to reality. We so often see this when someone experiences a powerful wake-up call regarding their health, family, relationships, career path, finances, life purpose, etc.

I’ve often found it to be a powerful intention to say: Show me the truth. Show me what I’m not seeing. If the words can be spoken with genuine desire, this can really get some stuck energy flowing again; however, it may not be easy to face and deal with what comes up.

In this article though, I want to address a specific concern that many people have, which is how to deal with other people’s lack of truth alignment.

What do you do when friends, relatives, or co-workers succumb to conspiracy theories and start spewing out falsehoods?

What if someone you know is in deep denial about certain issues but doesn’t seem interested in hearing any honest communication about it?

What about people who wrap falsehoods into their beliefs and still expect to be treated with respect?

The Harmony Approach

A common solution is to try to go for harmony. In principle this is good, but in practice people tend to mistake something else for harmony. It’s like watching someone do a heavy weight training exercise with terrible form, and you know that in the long run, they’re probably going to hurt themselves.

Genuine harmony is an aspect of oneness. Oneness is the combination of truth and love, both of which are fundamental principles that help us move towards growth. For harmony to be real, it must be truth-aligned. Without truth alignment you can’t experience harmony. You will get some version of discordance instead.

If you ever find yourself pursuing harmony at the expense of truth, realize that you’re not going to experience harmony. You will experience something else – most likely some form of tolerance rooted in denial. Without some solid truth alignment, you’ll be in the land of pretend, and that isn’t actually going to help you or anyone else grow. At best it will perpetuate stagnation.

The pathway to real harmony is through the truth. This pathway may seem utterly chaotic at first, but the chaos isn’t caused by the truth. The truth just is. The chaos is basically the falsehood and denial doing what they do best – resisting the truth. So let them bitch and moan, and stay aligned with truth anyway. Real harmony lies beyond this point.

Does it really serve our best interests if we try to bury the truth and pretend that everything is okay when we have some serious disagreements? This isn’t truth alignment – it’s confrontation avoidance.

Aligning With the Truth

Getting yourself aligned with truth is a good first step.

If you have a disagreement with someone, can you delve into the facts and details and find out what’s actually going on? For instance, if someone is delving into conspiracy websites, you can look into fact-checking sources and see if those sites are actually truth-aligned or not. You can research the background of those sites and see what you discover.

You can also consider what you know about the person who’s succumbing to these falsehoods. Are they lonely? Feeling disconnected? Seeking a new peer group? What are their emotional reasons for going down that path? Is there some secondary gain in it for them? Can you get some sense of what may be driving them?

For instance, one friend started sending me conspiracy articles that apparently discredit COVID vaccines. However, when I looked into the sites he shared, they had ties to the Kremlin, so they’re basically political tools used to cause disruption. Such sites can be very effective at this, but they aren’t trustworthy sources of vaccine info, and some will even post false charts and graphs of fake research info. Of course I shared this with my friend to let him know that he was essentially a pawn being used in this political game. How he processes that info is up to him, but his actions also invite me to update my opinion of him. I regard him as less trustworthy, and I’ll be more suspicious of info he shares with me – not because of his intentions but because of his lack of fact-checking skills and his vulnerability to accepting erroneous info as true.

Now I would agree that we can’t have perfect information, and everything we learn through a screen must be considered suspect. But I also think we can leverage reasoning and some understanding of human nature and basic fact-checking and credibility assessment of sources to at least lean towards better truth alignment. We don’t have to develop clingy fixed beliefs that could be wrong, but we can assess likelihoods and weigh the preponderance of evidence.

I think most of the time, we are too gullible when we ought to be more curious and suspicious. Conspiracy theorists may seem suspicious or jaded, but they’re actually among the most gullible of all since they’ll swallow falsehoods from the most unreliable and discredited sources. IMO such people aren’t nearly suspicious enough. It’s rather silly that they’ll reject mainstream sources and then flock to even less credible outlets for information. Or they’ll switch to unreliable and untrustworthy mainstream sources, such as Fox News, which is laughable in terms of truth alignment but also quite sad in terms of how it affects people and society.

A key area of truth alignment for yourself is accepting when the people in your life are seriously lacking in truth alignment. With so many millions of people claiming to believe in falsehoods that have been abundantly debunked and discredited, it’s likely that you’ve had to deal with such people too.

For instance, who do you know that holds goofy religious beliefs that aren’t actually true? Do you accept the truth that someone you know has been duped into such falsehoods? Or do you still pretend that you’re okay with it, such as by saying, “Well, they’re a good person, but…”? Do you seek a false form of harmony that wants to hide from the truth?

The Emotionality of Truth Alignment

Getting aligned with truth can be surprisingly emotional. You may feel all sorts of intense emotions such as anger, disappointment, betrayal, resentment, frustration, anxiety, and more.

Let yourself feel those feelings. It’s wise to let them flow, so you can process them. Those feelings represent your inner truth. Let it be true that you feel what you feel.

When you see a friend or relative go down the conspiracy rabbit hole, let yourself feel the disappointment and worry.

When you see the U.S. Supreme Court make another ridiculous ruling based on a skewed notion of reality, let yourself feel pissed off about it.

When you see Sergey Lavrov say pretty much anything, let the vomit flow up your esophagus. It’s normal.

Just don’t stop there. Ask your feelings what they’re trying to communicate. The message isn’t just raw emotion. There’s a purposeful invitation behind those feelings. What truths are those feelings inviting you to discover?

I often like to journal about my feelings to ask them what their honest message is. This is a great way to become more truth-aligned on the inside. Once I receive and acknowledge the message, the feelings almost always grow milder, or they stop being noticeable after a while.

Driving Towards Resolution

One reason that other people’s lack of truth alignment tugs at our attention is because it’s an invitation to get ourselves back into the flow of growth and change.

When we obsess over someone else’s misalignments, we’re using a common delay tactic. Other people will present an endless stream of issues that we can call out as problematic, and it’s fine to do that now and then, but if we overdo it, this can divert our attention away from looking more closely at our own truth alignment issues.

When we see other people as blind, deluded, or misguided, we can get hung up on objections to their words and behaviors without actually resolving our thoughts and feelings about them. It’s fine to go through those phases, but we don’t want to remain stuck there.

If you object to what other people are thinking or saying, don’t stop there. Do your best to accept that they really are doing that, and then take the time to process and decide how you’re going to deal with them. How will their lack of truth alignment affect your relationship going forward? What meaning will you assign to their behaviors? How will you re-classify these people within your internal relationship matrix?

If you resolve your thoughts and feelings about such people to your own satisfaction, your mind can settle down, and you’ll no longer need to obsess about such people. This will free up more energy to pursue your own path of growth, which may involve facing your own difficult truths.

Beware the secondary gain that comes from obsessing over other people’s problems. If this is a way to let yourself off the hook from facing your own issues, it’s best to remove that incentive for using this as a delay tactic. I find that a good way to avoid the secondary gain issues is to give myself full permission to consciously put the brakes on my own growth when I want a break. Let it be perfectly okay to pause or slow down without having to justify the decision. If I can pause whenever I want – guilt-free – I don’t need to obsess over other people’s issues to force myself to go slower.

If you currently have a crushing relationship with someone else’s lack of truth alignment, invite the truth to really sink in. Do your best to fully accept what you see. Then ask: Now that I see this and can no longer deny it, what am I going to do about it? Who do I want to be in this situation?

One way to frame this is to consider that reality is testing you. What must you do to pass the test?

You’ll remain stuck if you don’t pass the test in a way that satisfies you.

Generalizing Your Answers

A good way to figure out how to resolve a situation with someone – at least in your own mind – is to state the issue more generally and then solve the general version of the problem. This won’t rid your social life of problems, but it will enable you to graduate to different classes of problems, so you don’t have to keep dealing with the same types of issues over and over.

For instance, if someone you know is spouting COVID conspiracy nonsense, you could ask yourself questions like these:

  • How would I like to relate to someone who absorbs and reiterates disinformation?
  • How shall I respond when someone speaks falsehoods in my presence?
  • What aspects of my character would I most like to access in such situations?
  • How do I intend to relate to people who present serious truth alignment issues?

I cannot give you these answers, but I can encourage you to ponder these questions intelligently and come up with your own answers. Then your next challenge is to get yourself to act in alignment with your best answers.

When I have time for it and if the relationship seems investment-worthy, I like to challenge and invite people who aren’t truth-aligned to question what they think they know. Internally I feel some compassion for how they’ve been led astray, especially due to how much I felt led astray after being spoon-fed years of religious falsehoods.

I’ve noticed that even when I do this in a joking way, many people appreciate the wake-up call – when they’re ready for that kind of experience. I’ve received many cards, letters, emails, and in-person thank-you’s over the years from people who began facing unpleasant truths that they initially didn’t want to face, after they read some articles on my website. When they finally accepted the truth and began acting in alignment with it, they embarked upon some tremendous journeys of growth. A common example was when people realized that their uninspired job was a dead end, and they sought to explore more purposeful and rewarding work. Of course I’ve also received plenty of spiteful messages from people who initially dislike such invitations, but I take that in stride. After all, they chose to come here and read about it, and my article titles are usually straightforward and descriptive.

Do You Want Loyalty or Honesty?

Many people put their relationships ahead of truth. They value loyalty to certain people or groups above other values. I have been such a person as well, and I eventually felt disgusted with that aspect of my personality and worked on changing it. That kind of loyalty almost landed me in prison for a while, so I see it as immensely misguided. I learned some hard lessons that landed me squarely on the side of favoring truth alignment over loyalty to any particular individuals or groups. This has led me down some interesting and rewarding paths.

If you prefer to favor loyalty over truth (which ought to be the tagline for the U.S. Republican party these days), I invite you to carefully consider why you’re doing that. There are books like How to Win Friends and Influence People that will steer you away from truth alignment in order to manifest some extra social gains. If you find this approach appealing, test it for yourself. Personally I find it dreadful because it fills my social circle with partial matches. I very much prefer to get aligned with truth, and then people can love me or hate me on that basis.

What do you want from other people? Do you prefer loyalty or honesty?

If you want people to be loyal to you, even when they have to pretend that they respect you, you may indeed attract that experience. But will that really satisfy you? Do you want your social relationships to be based on secondary gains, full of people who pretend to see you a certain way so they can gain some benefits from you? Blech!

A social circle that values honesty above loyalty may seem more difficult at first, but you’ll get to experience a lot more growth on this path. This probably won’t be a stable circle in the traditional sense though. You’ll likely see people entering and exiting your life in a continuous flow, each person inviting you to see different truths. And even if you spend extended periods alone, that can be a beauty phase as well when you’re exploring deeper truths that matter to you.

There’s something about truth alignment that provides a much deeper level of comfort and security than any amount of loyalty to individuals can offer.

I find that the root of this decision comes down to trusting life. The more I can trust life, the more I can accept the flow of relationships and how they invite me to see and experience different truths. This helps me avoid getting clingy with misaligned relationships.

When someone staunchly opposes truth alignment, I tend to see it as a sign that it’s time to let that relationship fade, so a fresh connection can flow into my life. I’ve been trapped plenty of times when I did the opposite and favored loyalty to an individual or group. Now I realize that it’s totally normal for people to flow towards us or away from us, based on how we’re able to help each other grow in each moment.


Despite how wacky and misaligned the world can seem at times, I remain staunchly optimistic. One reason is that I always see open pathways to greater truth alignment. Even when denial and falsehood seem rampant and there are organizations like Fox News spewing out falsehoods that create huge social ramifications, I also know that they have a limited lifespan. Sooner or later people find falsehood and denial deeply unsatisfying. It runs people in circles – or backwards – and doesn’t create a meaningful sense of progress. There’s always the invitation to get off that treadmill and to get back on a path of truth seeking.

So I tend to view such issues, even when they have massive social impacts, as a normal part of the human experience. I’ve circled around in that space quite a lot, and I do see that it has the value of putting the brakes on our growth (even if as I mentioned, we can simply pause consciously whenever we want). The benefit of falsehood is that it can stabilize reality in a more fixed position, so we can spend more time processing certain experiences before we progress to something new.

Depending on how you relate to other people who are mired in denial, you can actually pause your own progress, or you can let them experience what they’re experiencing and then go pursue something different for yourself.

For example, consider the major rollback of abortion rights in the USA. You could frame this as something like: Oh great… this is so backwards. Now we have to re-defend and re-litigate a social right that was already resolved. This is so stupid. Fuck you, SCOTUS!

On the other hand, you could also say: Okay, some people must really want to live in The Handmaid’s Tale universe. They want to control women’s bodies, and indeed even many women are even wanting to co-create that experience. States that ban abortion will predictably see an increase in many social problems in the decades ahead, including crime, since that’s statistically predictable where abortion has been banned elsewhere. If that’s what they desire, I can allow them to have this experience. It’s going to mean there’s a wider gap in the experiences of red versus blue states. It’s going to piss off a lot of people and create harsh consequences for many, including death and poverty, and there will be a lot of activism against this direction too.


What does it means to respect someone? Can you respect someone who strays far away from truth alignment?

You may find that it’s hard to respect someone when they start spewing out falsehoods. You may feel that respect means to regard someone as intelligent or reasonable, and it’s too much to ask to frame their behavior as intelligent in such cases. You may even think something like: Okay, this person has a defective brain.

A broader version of respect is to allow space for people to have a wide variety of experiences because that’s how we learn and grow, both individually and collectively. I like to see this as a greater form of truth alignment. On one level I may think that someone is being downright idiotic, and on that basis I cannot respect them as intelligent or reasonable. But on another level, I can also see that people are going out and having different experiences and learning and growing from them, and that is something I can respect.

For instance, if someone eats animal products, I can’t respect them as a compassionate or caring person since that wouldn’t make any sense if they’re relating to animals with violence or apathy. So I’m going to go ahead and file them in the “doesn’t care about the well-being of animals” section of my mind. But at the same time, I also recognize and accept that lots of people choose to explore a nonconsensual, entitlement-based relationship with animals’ bodies. They may even treat some animals as beloved pets (still property) while treating other animals as products where cruelty is just part of the business model they support.

I can respect that people are actively exploring this way of relating to animals, along with exploring the consequences of those choices, like much higher rates of lifestyle diseases like heart disease and cancer, harsher climate change impacts, etc. That aspect rings true because we’re all exploring different ways of relating to animals, just as we explore different ways of relating to each other. But I’m not going to succumb to the falsehood that such people actually care about animals’ well-being when their behavior towards animals is riddled with violence and abuse. So there’s no need for anyone in that space to maintain any pretense of caring about animals’ well-being because that’s meaningless if it isn’t backed up by action. But I can still relate to them – and respect them – on the basis that we’re all co-explorers here, each delving into different ways of relating to whatever we encounter.

One benefit of this way of respecting people is that you can also appreciate how they help you clarify what matters to you. Other people help you define what you don’t want to experience personally, and that helps you discover what you do desire. I appreciate that conspiracy theorists have done an excellent job of convincing me that I don’t want to join them in their conspiracies. 😉

I find that an interesting way to relate to people’s lack of truth alignment is to actually reframe it as a greater form of truth alignment that they’re pursuing. They’re seeking truth experientially. Even if I don’t choose to join them in that kind of experience, I can respect them for doing that. The explorer in me can still honor and salute the explorer in them.

I see exploration as one of the main reasons we’re all here. So even if someone is pursuing animal cruelty, misogyny, racism, or some other pursuit that I would vehemently reject exploring for myself, on some level I still appreciate what they’re doing for life. They’re still serving the expansion of what life is capable of. And I accept that life is capable of generating a wide range of experiences that do not personally appeal to me as an individual. That’s a simple truth that I feel it’s best to stay aligned with. If we try to dictate terms to life itself, life will surely overrule us.

This leads to the question: Do you respect what life is doing, in all its many manifestations?

Do you respect life for generating violence, lying, hatred, manipulation, etc? Are you able to give life – and especially humanity – space to explore this?

Can you accept that life is going to keep exploring these aspects with or without your permission?

Can you even accept that life’s explorations will sometimes have consequences for you and other people you know – and that sometimes you may dislike those consequences?


One way to accept and respect what life is doing is to forgive its transgressions, just as you would hope that life forgives your own transgressions.

I have made plenty of nasty mistakes in life, including some really deplorable errors in judgment, and I appreciate that I wasn’t kicked off the planet. Somehow I’m still here… still breathing… still able to live life and express myself. I don’t take that for granted.

I like that life provides wiggle-room for making mistakes, including mistakes that may even cause consequences and problems for other people.

I too must deal with the consequences of other people’s decisions. I may really dislike some of the decisions made by other people in the world. Some of the choices people have made deeply disgust me. But on another level, I still respect and honor their freedom to make such choices, even when it causes problems for me and for future generations. I see it as a normal part of how life explores this reality.

It’s like playing a video game where someone takes you out with a headshot, and even though you’re dead, another part of you is saying, “Good shot. Well played.”

This doesn’t mean you can’t express what you want to express, including activism. You can still go explore what it’s like to rail against what you dislike. You can still explore what it’s like to inspire changes in the world. But can you accept that other aspects of life get a say as well, and some of those aspects may oppose you?

This can be a hard frame to reach for, especially when you’re in the thick of dealing with the consequences of other people’s choices. In those moments I like to remind myself of how forgiving life was with me when I screwed up. This helps me appreciate that I haven’t been spaced yet. And this in turn helps me choose not to space someone else and to let them remain in the game, even if I think they really deserve to be spaced. At the same time I may be yelling at them, I’m also thanking them for keeping the game interesting and stimulating – and for helping me clarify what kind of character I want to play while I’m here.

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Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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