Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blanket Honesty

Imagine for a minute, that you were honest all the time. What would that be like?

You were at work and your boss gave you yet another project to work on. Instead of hiding your annoyance, you took the opportunity to explain just what was on your plate, and how taking on this task, meant another would have to go unfinished.

A friend that you keep intentionally blowing off calls you yet again and asks to do something. You tell them the truth, that you aren't really interested in being their friend.

A stranger cuts in front of you in line at the supermarket. Instead of standing there annoyed, you direct the person to the back of the line.

(Take a minute to think about what would happen in these scenarios if you kept how you were feeling to yourself. Think about how you will feel over time as these same situations keep coming up.)

Now take this idea further. Imagine being honest in all areas of your life. I don't mean to imply that we're all dishonest, but we all keep things to ourselves. Often they are little things, but they build on one another. Why is it that when we have issues with a friend or a significant other, we don't talk about them until it is too late?

We dislike confrontation, we don't want to hurt people's feelings, and we don't want to look bad. But really, what are we gaining by not being honest with everyone?

Putting off honesty buys time.

When we don't talk about it, those little things build and build until one day, they explode. We quit our job. We lead on a friend because we don't want to hurt their feelings, only to hurt them worse when we finally can't take it anymore. We let relationships go on till the breaking point before trying to fix them.

I really think there is a correlation between honesty and happiness. It's stressful and unpleasant to keep things locked up inside your head, worrying about them until it they just about drive you crazy. People who wear masks spend a lot of time and energy being someone they're not. How could pretending to be a different person help us be happier?

First, we must be honest with ourselves. This can be the hardest part. People don't want to admit that they're jealous, or afraid of change, or obsessive/compulsive. But recognizing who you are is the only way you'll ever be able to learn to work with these aspects of your personality, rather than against them. You need to surround yourself with people who know the real you, not just the person you pretend to be.

Only then can we move on to letting other people know how we feel, before it's too late.

I realize of course, that it is pretty impractical to practice blanket honesty at every moment of your life. But really, it sounds so much better than the alternative, doesn't it?

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Ah yes, being honest all the time does sound fantastic in theory. I would love to be able to tell everyone what I am truly feeling or thinking all the time. However, I'd most likely appear to be a lunatic. Basically because my emotions and thoughts are not always rational, and once I share something out loud I can't take it back.

As far as blowing off friends that you don't particularly like, what do you think actually hurts people more: 1)having your friend tell you that they don't want to be your friend anymore or 2)gradually losing touch with a friend who doesn't get back to you all the time?

I bet most people when asked would say that they'd rather know right up front that someone doesn't want to be their friend anymore. But I think that it's actually dealt with better if it occurs over time and you can look at it as "losing touch."

Plus, if you "lose touch" with someone and you run into them later on, it's not awkward and you can catch up (if you want to). But if you have told them that you don't want to be their friend, there's no chance you're going to talk again. And sometimes all you really want is a break from someone, not to end a friendship.