~ JOURNEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY ~
Hello, hello! This is the sixth blog post in the series of self-discovery. You can read them out of order, but I wanted to check if you’ve been applying the concepts we went over earlier in the week or at least thinking about them. What I’ve noticed in my own life is that I’ve read a lot of great books and heard a ton of useful information, but unless I made an effort to implement what I learned, it didn’t benefit me and didn’t stick. I would encourage you to try at least one thing.
Today I want to talk about another touchy subject—honesty.
Whether practiced or not, honesty and truthfulness are always esteemed. We would all agree that it’s better to deal with a genuine person than a liar, that we prefer people who keep their word and avoid the ones who betray our trust, that a whole nation can suffer when the governing system is corrupted. We value these concepts and equate them to honor, morality, good character. We teach them to our kids. But do we really know what they mean for us?
Turns out, truth is not so easy to handle on a personal level. It is often applied selectively and unevenly. For example, you might be honoring your commitments to others, but breaking promises you made to yourself. You could be conscientious when it comes to your work, but not your family or personal time. You would never lie about another person, but yet allow the lies of others about who you are and what you can do keep you down.
The hardest thing to do is to be honest with ourselves.
Even people who wouldn’t hesitate to be straightforward with others might still tend to soften the facts when it comes to them. We all actually get pretty skilled at self-deception, and sometimes it requires a complete mind shift in order to shake off false beliefs. But according to psychologist Courtney Warren, not facing the truth is the biggest obstacle to living a fulfilled life. Listen to her TED talk on why it’s important to recognize the lies we tell ourselves and how to deal with them: Honest Liars.
The bottom line is when you avoid confronting your reality, you are not taking responsibility and therefore can’t change yourself or the situation you are in. Honesty allows you to understand yourself and to make the right choices accordingly. It’s your guiding compass, and it needs to stay calibrated.
Mother Teresa wrote: “Honesty and transparency makes you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway”.
Being truthful to yourself and others is not always pleasant or easy, but it’s the only way to authentic living.
Authenticity is a popular word these days, isn’t it, but what does it really mean? To live authentically is to be genuine, original, real, true to who you are. Unfortunately, society as a whole wants you to conform to its norms and dissolve in the crowd. It’s okay to desire acceptance, but do you have the courage to stand up tall and be yourself? To be unique? To follow your own heart? To speak up for what you believe? To make your own choices? It all starts with self-honesty.
As the Bible says, if you discover the truth and hold on to it, stand up for it, live it daily, it will set you free. But what is the truth and how do you find it? For me, this journey started when I discovered the One who said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” If you get tired of looking for the truth on your own—ask Him, because for Christians there is another powerful aspect of reality that gives hope and transforms—seeing yourself through God’s eyes.
Honesty with others is not always a walk in the park either. Most of us feel uncomfortable telling people what we truly think, especially if we know they won’t like it. But we probably all prefer friends who can tell us how it is rather than keep up appearances. I am not suggesting you start blurting out everything that comes to your mind or opening yourself up to total strangers, but if it’s a close relationship and a crucial situation, have the courage to speak up.
Here are some examples:
You can’t meet a deadline for a project. Instead, of causing unnecessary stress to yourself, taking more time away from your family, and possibly letting people at work down, you decided to chat with your boss and explain your situation.
Something your spouse has been doing is bugging you, and, instead of keeping it all to yourself and blowing up later, you decide to have a discussion about it, let him or her know how you feel, ask their opinion, and brainstorm for solutions.
Your friend had been going through a hard time and getting into self-destructive behaviors. Instead of staying out of the mess, you jump right in and use tough love to pull him or her out of the rut.
In dealing with others, honesty also requires courage. Of course, when we speak the truth, it has to be done with tact, compassion, and wisdom. There are instances where we simply have to keep our mouths shut. But more often than not, we stay silent about things that really need to be brought out to the light because they will create greater problems and regrets later on.
So, if living honestly and truthfully is so important, why do people still choose to either hide from the truth or hide the truth? There might be a couple of reasons but most of them stem from the fear of consequences. Half of the time we already know what the right thing to do is, but still make excuses to not deal with the issue. In fact, when someone starts speaking into our lives, our first reaction is usually self-defense. That’s because change requires us to go through some level of discomfort. But if you’re ready to leave the status quo and step into the life you are meant to live, then go ahead, embrace the truth.
A few things you could do:
Write down your values, ideals, things that are important to you. Ask yourself: does my life reflect them? Why or why not? Brainstorm for ways to intergrade them into your daily routine. For example, you might value family but barely spend any time with your spouse or kids due to your busy work schedule.
Do you do things to impress others or to live up to somebody else’s expectations? Are you doing things you don’t like to please others? Are you constantly pretending, afraid to speak your mind, afraid to be yourself? Recognize that as a fake version of yourself and work on catching it in action. What would real you do differently? Try doing it.
Surround yourself with people who would be willing to speak the truth into your life. If you have loved ones or friends that you trust, give them permission to keep you accountable. Write down the things that you want to work on and share the list with them.
Today catch yourself avoiding the truth and face it instead. And here is a playlist to bring along:
Read the next post: Finding Your Rest