Journey to Honesty
Honesty is a state of consciousness. We cultivate honesty when we tell the truth even when it is difficult. Of course, to tell the truth to others, we must first know it for ourselves, so honesty begins in our own consciousness and then extends to others. By being honest with others, we encourage them to be honest with us.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Lying, Deception, Fabricating, Hiding, Denying or Obscuring the truth. When we recognize that we are not telling the truth, we need to acknowledge it to ourselves and then to others. If we are not sure what is true, we have to be willing to admit that.
We have been told many times that “honesty is the best policy,” yet it is often difficult for us to be honest with others. Rather than tell an uncomfortable truth, we tell others what we think they want to hear. This may avoid conflict temporarily but it just kicks the can down the road. Sooner or later the truth will come out.
If your partner asks you “Do you still love me?” and you say “Yes” when the truth is “No.” you are being dishonest. Maybe you are afraid your partner will leave or have an affair if he or she knows the truth, so you lie to protect yourself. But then perhaps you are the one who has an affair and then you get caught and the truth comes out. Is this the way you want to end your relationship? Wouldn’t is be better to say, “my feelings for you are not the same as they were before” and let that be the entrée to longer, more heartfelt conversation?
Or maybe the honest answer is “I don’t know. I am feeling a bit confused or ambivalent.”
When you tell others the truth you are showing them respect. You are refusing to play games with them or to keep them guessing. While the truth can be difficult to hear, it is also empowering because it lets other people know where they stand.
When the truth is spoken no one is kept in the dark. No one has a secret or an unfair advantage. When both people tell each other the truth, all the cards are put on the table.
Telling the truth is the first and most important step. It does not mean that you know what to do with all those cards. It doesn’t mean you are ready to make a major decision. It just puts everything out into the open so that things can be discussed and eventually a decision can be made.
Sometimes the truth that you speak is not the whole truth, because you don’t know how you really feel. You may say “No I don’t love you,” when the truth is that you want more intimacy with your partner and you don’t know how to ask for it.
Maybe the truth leads to a decision to separate for a while and during that time you find you that you really do love your partner but you needed time to yourself to heal or get clear.
Telling the truth opens the door to more honest communication and more authentic behavior. That is the upside.
The downside is that it overturns the applecart. It insures that the veil of denial or secrecy is lifted and dysfunctional patterns of self-betrayal and co-dependence are revealed.
It is one of our human weaknesses to want to hold onto the past even when we know that it is not working. And the way we hold on is by denying or hiding the truth, first from ourselves and then from others. That is our way of keeping
the past in place, even when our soul is screaming for change.
In the end, our soul wins out over any attempt we make to deny our true needs and feelings. We cannot build a life on lies and deception. If we try, the house of cards we build will come tumbling down. Lies and deception lead to larger and more destructive consequences. Better to have the courage to face the truth now, where change can happen with reasonable safety, then to wait until the stakes become too high.
It is not uncommon to read in the news how someone goes completely off his rocker and murders his wife and children. Why did he wait until the dynamite was lit to acknowledge the truth to himself and others?
That, I am afraid, is the inevitable consequence of living in denial.
In our Affinity Process we ask people to tell the truth to each other without blaming or shaming each other. We ask people to speak and listen from the heart so that they can learn what is real for the other person.
This process makes it possible to get everything out on the table. Its intent is not to negotiate or try to make decisions. That can happen later.
So when I use the Affinity Process, I might say “I am feeling confused and ambivalent about our marriage. I am feeling depressed and cut off from you and from myself.” That tells you something really important about what is going on for me.
I don’t blame you for what I am feeling. I don’t try to make it your fault or your responsibility. I simply acknowledge what is going on for me, even though it is not pleasant to say.
And now you know what is going on for me and you don’t have to try to fix it or make It better; you can just let it in and be with it. And, if you are ready, you can tell me honestly what is going on for you. You could say, for example “I have been noticing how distant you have been and I have been feeling that it is my fault and I must be doing something wrong. I have even wondered if you still love me? I have been afraid to speak about it for fear that you would withdraw even more.”
And I can hear and acknowledge that without trying to reassure you or fix anything for you.
We can both feel grateful that the truth has been spoken and no one has been blamed or shamed. Now I am aware of what is going on for you and you are aware of what is going on for me and we can let it all settle in.
When we are ready we can tell each other more. We can even explore what our options are. But that can happen only when we have given the truth time to work in your consciousness and mine.
The beauty is that the walls of denial have been taken down. No one is avoiding the truth or hiding it. We are naked now, face to face. In that there is equality and mutual respect.
Now, when it is time to build, we will not be building a life of lies. We will not be building on quick sand. We will be building on bedrock, on the truth of who we are. We will be building on solid ground.
Today be aware when you are not being honest, when you are hiding or disguising the truth. Notice when you tell people what you think they want to hear, instead of how you really feel. And when you catch yourself, stop and see if it is possible for you to be more authentic.
Today also notice when others are not being authentic with you. Ask them “Do you really mean that?” or Is that how you really feel.” Let other people know that you would rather have the truth, even if it is difficult to hear, than to be told a made-up story.
If honest communication is difficult, ask for “an affinity space,“ a time when you and the other person can really listen to each other without shaming and blaming. Take the time to speak and listen from the heart, to put your thoughts and feelings on the table and to listen to the experience of others. Remember, you are not looking for agreement here. You are just seeking understanding of what the other person is going through. And you are letting them into your world.
No one can read a closed book, so let your book be open so that those you care about can read the truth about you. If they care, they will take the time to see and know you, and you will do the same for them.
Relationships must be nurtured and maintained. They are like a flower bed that needs water and weeding. Honesty is the water that you bring. And truth uproots the weeds so that deception cannot grow and destroy the flowers.
If you can, review your experience with this practice by writing in your journal at the end of the day. When did you deny or obscure the truth today? When did you tell people what they wanted to hear instead of telling them what you really thought and felt? When did you become aware that you were not being honest? What happened when you had the courage to speak up?
Today, was truth your friend or your enemy? Is it possible that it could be your friend even it if made you feel uneasy and uncomfortable? Did the truth shatter your mask and dissolve your story or someone else’s? Did it blast open the door to your self-created prison of lies and deception or someone else’s?
With whom and in what situation am I challenged to be more honest with myself and the people I love?
Audio Recording: click on the link to download the audio only file: | download audio |