Honesty is the Best Policy

It is of the utmost importance that you are honest. Honesty with others is vital in building strong relationships, but honesty with yourself is even more important if you are going to be your best, live your best life and enjoy the experiences that life affords you. You may be surprised at how often people lie. Research has shown that most people lie daily, even several times a day. The more people you talk to the more lies you’ll hear. Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst discovered that most people lie in everyday conversations. People lie to make others feel better about themselves and in attempts to make themselves look better to others. People lie to protect themselves, to get away with transgressions and to avoid perceived trouble. We lie for all sorts of reasons. The most dangerous lies are those we tell ourselves about ourselves.

I’ve been overweight my entire life to some degree. Most of that time I rationalized the situation and focused on the facts that most people considered me handsome and there was always someone fatter around so I could say to myself, “I not that big.”  If I had been honest with myself, I would have acknowledged that my weight was a problem, I was uncomfortable and insecure about it. But who wants to say those things to himself? Haven’t we been taught to avoid negative self-talk. Instead of being honest I created inner turmoil. I pretended to be confident, even fooling others in to believing that I was while at the same time learning to dislike even hate that part of me.

Some of you might be thinking, why didn’t you do something about it and lose weight. There are two answers to that question. One, I hated exercising and loved good food and two, I wasn’t honest enough with myself to admit that’s what I needed to do. Honesty with one’s self is a key that opens the door to true happiness. “Say what you mean, and mean what you say;” especially when talking to yourself. If you’re to fat say you’re to fat. If you’re to thin say that as well. If you want something say you want it. If you like or dislike something or someone be honest about it. Recently I saw a meme that said we should be more like dogs and eat when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re sleepy and ask for sex whenever we want it. I truly believe that if we behaved more like this we’d all be happier and have better relationships. It’s not the truth that hurts. It s withholding and avoiding the truth that hurts.

You might be scared of being honest with yourself because you don’t like who the true you is. Maybe you think that the true you won’t be accepted. Maybe you’ve been taught that the true you isn’t right in society or your peer groups eyes. Ask yourself if you would rather be hated for who you are or loved for who you pretend to be. Sure some people will not like the authentic you, but those that do will love you in ways that the pretend you never experienced. The Bible says to, “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” This means to both speak with conviction and also to speak your truth.

Being honest with yourself opens opportunities that are closed otherwise. That woman or man you are attracted to but don’t share how you feel; that denial is you lying to yourself. That relationship that you’re unhappily in, but don’t change; that’s you lying to yourself. That job that you work but dread going to every day, another lie.  Simple things like eating what you don’t like because you don’t want to offend the one who prepared it or wearing and ugly outfit because it was a gift. Those lies make you unhappy. Your happiness begins with telling the truth.

Are you doing what you enjoy doing and avoiding what you don’t enjoy? Or are you doing what others want to do and just going along? Your mental, spiritual and even physical well being are all dependent on your level of self-honesty. Stop compromising yourself to get along or to please others. State your truth both to yourself and to the world and you’ll see your life change in amazing ways. Believe it or not those people that you have sought to please will do things your way if you let your way be known and settle for nothing less. If some resist, that’s okay. Do you and let them do them.

What may seem like little choices can have a big impact. For instance, what you eat matters. I’m not talking about whether or not it’s healthy. I’m talking about whether or not you like it. Eat what you like not necessarily what’s offered to you or what your companion wants. Watch the shows and movies that you want to watch, be honest about your decisions. Don’t let others choose things for you. Those seemingly small compromises add up to a heavy weight that burdens you, demoralizes you and trains you to not express the true you. It has been said that a coward dies a thousand deaths, a soldier dies but once. Be your own soldier. Be the general of your own life.

People have said that just because it comes in your size doesn’t man you ought to wear it. Usually this is referring to plus sized women in outfits that some think should only be worn by smaller women. The plus sized women in those outfits aren’t wrong, they aren’t offensive, they aren’t violating anything. Hopefully they are living their truth. Hopefully they are doing what pleases them with little thought to how anyone else feels about it. Be like those women. Wear what you want to wear. There was a time that I wore suits every day. My preference was three-piece suits in flamboyant colors with a lot of flair. My peers didn’t dress that way and often I was the only one in a suit, but I was comfortable, I liked the way I looked and felt; I was doing me.

Of course, like to many of us I have also had the experience of lying to myself. Telling myself that I looked better or felt better than I actually did. I didn’t always express my true desires and I missed out on things that I should have had. I also subjected myself to unnecessary pain and heart ache by not freely proclaiming my truth to the world. Like a dog I should have slept when I was tired, ate when I was hungry and asked for sex when I wanted it without thought to how anyone else would react. It doesn’t mean that I would have gotten everything I wanted or that I would have made everything better, but I would have had the satisfaction of knowing that I took my shot; I would have minimized regret.

Sadly, people have made life altering decisions while not being honest with themselves. Marriage, divorce, having children, moving to new cities, all of these things and much more have been the result of self-deceit.  They’ve suppressed their true feelings then wondered why things didn’t work out the way they wanted. There is no way to get what you want if you can’t even admit to yourself that you want it. Be honest with yourself first, before you do anything else. If you’re scared admit it, if your excited, enjoy it. If you’re selfish, say to yourself, ‘I am a selfish person,’ and own it. That doesn’t mean that its right or that you have to remain that way. It means that it’s your truth and you can’t live it, accept it or change it until you admit it.

I tend to think that I am smarter than most people. It’s not true but it is my tendency to think so. Understanding and admitting this character flaw of mine means that I can recognize when I am doing it and pull it back when necessary. Sometimes I am smarter than the people I interact with, but even then, there is seldom a good reason to appear as if I think I am. Knowing that I have this issue also means that I can consciously seek to recognize the intelligence in others. I am able to see that almost everyone has something to offer that I don’t. Some are more well read, others have knowledge of specialized fields, some are more emotionally intelligent. I didn’t see all of this until I was honest about my own vanity and arrogance. Telling myself the truth made me a better person.

I have lots of other traits, good and bad that I have learned to be honest about. I procrastinate and I’m easily bored. I’m also creative and have the ability to motivate others even while I struggle to motivate myself. All of us are complicated creatures, but none of us are so complicated that we can’t understand ourselves. You know who you are, what you’re capable of, what your strengths and weaknesses are. You can capitalize on this self-knowledge when you are honest with yourself. Growing up my mother told me repeatedly to not be a procrastinator. It took twenty years for me to look the word up and understand what she was talking about. Don’t wait twenty years or twenty more to change your life for the better.

An uncle told me once that when a man and woman are friends, “somebody is living a lie.” He meant that the only reason they are friends is that one or both is attracted to the other, but they won’t admit it. At the time I thought that was nonsense. After all I had female friends that I didn’t want to be with romantically, didn’t I? Sure, I did, but why not. Was it because I wasn’t attracted to them or was it because I had accepted that they were not attracted to me? I’m not going to answer that question now, but I do want you to examine your own relationships and ask yourself what they are based on. Whether those relationships are romantic, potentially romantic, platonic or anything in between. Ask yourself why you’re in the relationship and allow yourself to be honest. I’m talking about all your relationships; with your spouse, friends, co-workers, all of them. Why are you in them. What do you offer those relationships and what do they offer you?

These are important questions because when you lie to yourself you also lie to the people around you. If your relationships are based on your internal lies it’s not fair to the people, you’re in those relationships with. Often in conversation I think to myself, please stop sharing your fantasies with me. This happens when people state their dreams and aspirations as facts, and I know them well enough to know that it isn’t going to happen. I used to do it myself, but I have learned that if my dreams are not backed up by action, they are less dreams and more fantasy. Dreams have goals attached to them, fantasies have far-gone conclusions, but no path to reaching them. It is okay to fantasize, but not okay to waste others time with your fantasies. Share your dreams and goals, be a person of action. Don’t be fooled into thinking your fantasies will come true. In fact, what they do is create a false sense of achievement. They fool you into thinking that you have done something when you have not. Get out of your head. When a fantasy doesn’t develop into a dream with achievable goals, you are wasting your own time thinking about it more than a short time. When you start to believe it is your reality it is a lie.

No, you can’t do anything you set your mind to. Believe it or not some things are beyond you. No amount of work or preparation will get you there. It is not to be. I know these statements fly in the face of what you’re been told all your life, but it’s time you faced the facts. There are limits to what you can do, so stop wasting your time pursuing the impossible. I would love to be an astronaut. Can I make that happen, no. I am 51 years old as I write this, overweight, with significant health issues, no scientific background, I don’t fly, I’m not military, I have a felony conviction. I will not be going to work for NASA in this lifetime. That’s okay. I still appreciate space and I live vicariously through the images of what astronauts do.

If you are holding on to some impossible dream, it is time to let it go. Put your focus on things that you can achieve. Examine yourself, and your circumstances and be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do. The good news is that you are a very capable person. You have experience, skills and talent. There are things that you know and even more that you can learn. Focus on real possibilities, let the fantasies go. Be honest about your gifts and capabilities. When you stop lying to yourself the world opens up to you.

Most people don’t realize that they are an expert in something that others dream of doing. Chances are that you have a skill that you don’t know how to capitalize on, or an undeveloped talent. When you honestly assess yourself, you can discover what these are. Making something of them will likely require more than a little effort. You may have to sacrifice some things now so that you can have what you want later, but it’s there for you if you’re honest.

 It is important to be honest about who you are because to often we lie to ourselves by telling ourselves how great we are. In your mind you’re probably the best at several things, you’re a great lover, friend, child, parent, sibling, but would others agree. Are you really the intellect that you imagine yourself to be? Are you the great employee that you like to think you are? Are you in the physical shape that you imagine? Emotional shape? Spiritual?

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