Where Does Honesty Begin?
I used to believe that honesty was a quality that was only pertinent to my interactions with other people. In truth, the most important person to be honest with is myself. Easy to say, and much harder to practice. I am often subconsciously dishonest with myself. When I am not internally truthful, it subsequently affects those around me. If, foremost, l am empirically honest with myself, I will not have to rely on deception when I interact with the world. The lies that I can tell myself are not necessarily malicious or calculated, but rather hidden aspects of my existence I am ignoring, either willfully or accidentally.
How can I uncover the lies I am telling myself if they are concealed subconsciously? That is an excellent question. An easy way to begin is to ask. Take a deep breath and ask: “Am I being honest with myself about this?” The requirement is to move slowly enough in the moment to examine the story in question. If the answer is no, then there will be indicators that point to the misalignment. What indicators? It will be different for each individual, but if you have asked the right question you will be aware what the answers are revealing. Another option is to ask a trusted friend or confidant who is comfortable enough, and possesses the knowledge, to help uncover my self-deception. These two methods can work, and often do for me, but there are other ways to engage in this introspective process. Be warned it is usually a difficult task.
The challenges arise because dishonesty is generally a way that I protect myself from insecurities and previous traumatic experiences. If I am insecure about an intimate partner, I can deceive myself to protect my ego and my feelings. If I doubt the value of my work, I can tell myself another story to reassure myself. If I am concerned about how tough I am, I can internally embellish my attributes. If I am worried about whether I am generous, I can tell myself that I am an extremely dedicated giver, and so on. My attempt to subconsciously validate my life and my actions, and protect me from any doubts I have, can distance me from objective truths. This in turn affects my interactions with other people, and I can fall into the pattern of telling them the same stories.
If I wish to be truly honest with the people in my life, then I must begin by being truthful with myself. Although it can be exceptionally difficult at times, the reward is a sense a balance and calm that cannot otherwise exist.