Have we become more comfortable with lies than the truth?
The term, Brutal Honesty has become a common catchphrase. It’s often used when someone decides to stop sugarcoating a subject, their thoughts, opinions, or feelings.
But why would the truth be deemed as something to be feared?
Or something that’s potentially painful?
Why is honesty, brutal?
There are layers of social, psychological, and deeply spiritual reasons why the truth can be hard to hear and hard to tell. However, most people value honesty above many other core values and agree it’s essential in all relationships. But if you dig a little deeper, the reality is we are far too comfortable dressing up or dressing down the truth. And here’s why it can lead to an inauthentic life, unfulfilling interactions, and a longing for something--anything real.
Being Honest is Hard
Wife: “Does this dress make my butt look big?”
Wife: “How dare you!?”
Some version of this conversation has taken place for all of us. A question is asked, not for the honest answer to be received, but for the answer the inquisitor is seeking. The answer that validates beliefs and feelings. The thing about that is perspective, beliefs, and feelings are different for each of us. And the joy of being inquisitive with others (on subjects deeper than the size of your rear end), is that we get to see and understand things from their side. Your truth may not be someone else’s and if you don’t want theirs--don’t ask.
It doesn’t take long for someone to gauge whether you seek to be validated or seek the truth.
And depending on their own moral code, others may choose to offer the version of the truth they believe you will be comfortable with. No one is to blame for such a dynamic, but it’s what we as humans have chosen to do to avoid conflict or discomfort. It’s much easier to say what someone wants to hear than to stand in your power and speak your truth.
This makes being honest hard.
Telling the truth 100% of the time requires conviction, vulnerability, and a deep sense of identity.
Being committed to honesty feels like bravery in a world that accepts half-truths as long as they make you feel good temporarily. But understanding why lying isn’t okay might make it easier not to.
Lying is Manipulation
Lying and dishonesty manifest in many ways. And more often than not, lies are “innocent”. Lies usually are not vindictive, don’t contain dark motives, or are meant to hurt others. But intentions don’t mean much. Because whether it’s meant to protect someone’s feelings or hide your own, lying is a form of manipulation. Lies will manipulate, or alter how someone sees you, relates to you and feels about you.
From lying on a resume to land a job or lying on a first date to impress someone, you’re only setting yourself up for the big fall that will come later. At some point, the veil is always lifted.
All it takes is a few “white lies” to surface to poison what someone once thought of you. The truth will always come out. And what started as social niceties will make someone look awfully suspicious, untrustworthy, and strategic. None of which are stand-up characteristics.
Honesty is the Foundation of Authentic Connections.
We lie to protect others and ourselves, to present ourselves in a different light. But being who you are, saying what you think, and expressing how you truly feel, (regardless of how unconventional or agreeable it is), will result in authentic connections and meaningful relationships. It will free you from the burden of lies you’d have to keep up with and most importantly, nothing will linger on your conscience.
Are You Truthful With Yourself?
You can be no more honest with others than you are with yourself.
Do you find hearing the truth to be an uncomfortable experience? Does it feel confrontational to hear how someone really feels? Unfortunately, this is a telltale sign that you’ve been dishonest with yourself for a time or two. Perhaps you’ve chosen to believe what you want to instead of seeing something (or someone) for what it/they truly are.
It’s comfy and cozy living in a bubble that feels safe. But the not-so-great thing about bubbles is that they burst. If you haven’t learned to keep it real with yourself, you’re extremely vulnerable for when the truth comes along.
A sense of safety and security will come when you know you have nothing to hide when you accept the burden of speaking and hearing the truth. This is the power of being honest with yourself and others.
How to Be Honest
So, where to start?
Firstly, forego the library of stories you tell yourself that justify why you bury the truth and choose to lie. As soon as you start reasoning with a version of the truth that may sound or feel better--catch yourself and just call it like it is.
Secondly, begin to embrace acceptance. The ability to accept truth--and not feel emotionally triggered by it-- is an empowering quality that allows us to experience life objectively. It’s nearly impossible to be an honest person who can’t accept honesty.
Thirdly, is to master your delivery of the truth. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Being honest can be delicate. It can be sincere, compassionate, and aware. It doesn’t have to be assertive or confrontational.
And lastly, though there are many ways to learn to be honest all the time, is to understand you are not responsible for how others handle the truth. If someone has an intense emotional reaction to a sincere delivery of the truth, do not feel the need to coddle them or rescind your statement. Assuming they’re an adult, they are responsible for their own emotional wellbeing. Understand that you did what was right. You chose honesty even when they were not ready to accept it.
This is all to say being honest does have a downfall. You certainly won’t be liked by all. But you’ll be liked by you. And at the end of most days, that’s what counts.