Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When Honesty Really Matters

If you're like me, and most people, you value honesty and consider yourself a truthful person. Sure, occasionally you tell someone you like their unfortunate haircut---just to cheer them up, or exaggerate about something insignificant, but there's usually no harm in that, right?

Let's face it, we nice people don't want to hurt other people's feelings, which leads to all sorts of half-truths and omissions. It's also true that we don't want to get in trouble by admitting little mistakes we've made, especially if we live or work with people who are likely to criticize or blame us. It's all very understandable and forgivable---very human, if you will.

But what effect does it have on us and our relationships when we conceal important pieces of information because we're either unable or unwilling to own and express our truth? Or maybe we lie to ourselves about the way we feel, until one day we wake up and feel justified in writing off a friend or relative because their behavior has upset us for years, but we were never able to confront them about it.

It seems that so much confusion and suffering could be eliminated if we were willing to take full responsibility for being honest when it really matters. Personally, I'm not ready to commit to full disclosure of my innermost thoughts and feelings all day every day, but that's not really necessary, is it? What's important is that we learn to identify the moments or situations when what we're saying or not saying has consequences..

For instance, many couples break up because one or both of the partners waited too long to express dissatisfaction in some aspect of the relationship that could have been remedied had it been addressed earlier. Or maybe they expressed it, but not clearly enough to indicate the severity of their dissatisfaction. They might have said, "I don't appreciate having to pick up after you," (which is a great start), but never followed through later with, "I love you, but I won't live with someone who doesn't pick up after himself, so something has to change."

This week, I ask you to look at your life and notice if there's a relationship (with a friend, relative, partner, co-worker, or yourself) where you're not expressing something that really matters, or worse, deceiving the person. Notice the toll this is taking on you and/or your relationship, and consider what it would take to come clean.

Chances are, if you state your truth with clarity and love, communication will open up and the situation will improve right away. But it might not. Honesty can cause waves, and that's ultimately okay, because eventually the truth in every situation will surface, and the sooner this happens, the better.

Expressing something important that you haven't been saying can feel like a breath of fresh air. It can open your heart, and quiet your mind. It can create a miracle of healing and of new, creative solutions. The truth can truly set you free.