True Honesty

I’ve linked here and there to Brad Blan­ton’s Rad­i­cal Hon­esty site, and I strong­ly rec­om­mend that just about any­one read the book of the same name. I am indebt­ed to my cho­sen broth­er Ron for rec­om­mend­ing the book to me, but I have to admit that it took me a cou­ple of attempts to read it—like so many things, I had to wait until I was ready to hear its mes­sage. Today, I strive to prac­tice full hon­esty in all of my rela­tion­ships, but I hes­i­tate to talk about prac­tic­ing rad­i­cal hon­esty because it has gar­nered some neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions due to mis­un­der­stand­ings.

Prac­tic­ing true hon­esty does­n’t mean being an ass­hole. It means being hon­est in the spir­it of love. You don’t throw what Ron calls “truth bombs.” You tell the truth with com­pas­sion and stick around for any fall­out. If some­one says, “What do you think of my speech?” and it was ter­ri­ble, you don’t say, “It was fine, hon­ey,” because it was­n’t. Nei­ther do you say, “That sucked.” You say, “I don’t think it expressed your point very well,” or “I feel that it was­n’t your best work. Would you like me to help you pre­pare next time?” or what­ev­er (if you’re will­ing to help, any­way). And you lis­ten.

By lying, I mean either stat­ing or imply­ing some­thing that isn’t true, or isn’t whol­ly true or with­hold­ing the truth about some­thing. In the con­text of rela­tion­ships, I don’t per­son­al­ly think it’s vital to share every thought that cross­es our minds (here I dis­agree with Blan­ton), but if some­thing affects the rela­tion­ship in any way, it needs to be shared. If your part­ner has bad breath you need to say so, right away. If you over­spent on gro­ceries and can’t put gas in the car, you need to say so, right away. If you’re find­ing your­self very attract­ed to a co-work­er, that’s some­thing to share. Yes, there’s going to be a reac­tion, but in every case, it’s health­i­er for the rela­tion­ship to get things out in the open than to with­hold the truth.

When you lie to any­one with whom you’re in rela­tion­ship, you have to lie to your­self first to some extent. You have to lie about the fact that it won’t mat­ter, or that you won’t get caught out or some­thing, but you have to lie to your­self, and it hurts you if you aren’t bro­ken inside. (If you’re a sociopath, psy­chopath, nar­cis­sist, etc. you’re beyond the scope of this arti­cle.)

Not only do you hurt your­self, but you put ener­gy into hid­ing what­ev­er it is that you lied about, and keep­ing up with your lies. It pre­vents inti­ma­cy because there’s some­thing com­ing between you. Telling the truth is sim­pler, takes less ener­gy, and does­n’t get in the way of inti­ma­cy. Come clean!

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