Honesty and Transparency are the themes for this month’s The BeZine. I started to write about these things in relation to the current political administration in the United States and quickly realized that it was turning into a (badly-written, full of sarcastic anger) book. So instead, I’d like to ask you to consider something different, but just as important.
Someone once told me, “Friends keep you honest. Good friends keep you honest with yourself.” Not only do I believe this, but I am blessed to have good enough friends who will do exactly that. Because we’re all adept at self-deception, we all need outside perspectives that will help keep us true to who we really are. This is a good thing, because honesty and transparency are crucial for trust; it’s critical that we be able to trust ourselves in order to live our best, most fulfilling lives possible.
How do I know how to trust myself? You may ask. The answers are there, and complicated, and they may not be what you want to hear, but self-honesty isn’t always easy. In fact, I’d say it’s probably harder than being honest with other people, because we all tend to be our own worst enemies – Ego is ever present and will do any number of shady things to protect itself (and you, in the process).
The over-simplified, short answers are that there are a few things you can do to start on the journey to being more honest with yourself:
* Pay closer attention to your emotions, your thoughts and your behaviors. By becoming aware of those times when your emotions, thoughts and behaviors don’t seem to match who you believe yourself to be, you’re honing your ability to be self-aware. This takes practice, so don’t get discouraged.
* Understand that it’s a journey, not a destination, and that it’s likely to be painful. There’s a good reason that the phrase “The truth hurts” has become such a cliché. Also realize that the rewards are worth it! There is nothing quite so empowering as knowing that you’re comfortable in your own skin, living the life you were meant to…as a direct result of doing the hard work of taking stock of your personal inventory (some of you may even recognize this as the 4th step in any 12-step program: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”)
* Don’t be afraid to seek therapy or professional help with personal issues that may be holding you back. Unresolved issues and baggage will stick around as long as you allow them, and will hinder your attempts to practice self-honesty. It takes guts to admit you’re not perfect and that you may need help to unravel layers of inner knots.
Dr. Cortney S. Warren is a well known psychologist who has explored this subject in depth. Her website, choosehonesty.com has some good insights into becoming more honest and transparent with yourself. Here is a quick article of hers that was published in Psychology Today that gives a brief explanation of how to get started. And below is a very good TedX Talk video of hers that goes into more detail.
One of the most important things to remember about honesty with oneself is that it’s a continual process. We have the choice each day to honor our true selves or put on a mask. We can defer to who and what we think others want or expect us to be, or we can try to be self confident, honest and live our lives the way we think and feel we should. I’m not advocating selfishness, but rather, self-awareness. Learn to trust yourself and be honest about who you are. It’s one of the essentials for living a complete, enriched and fulfilling life. And if you find yourself unsure about what that means and don’t already have one or two, get some good friends who are willing to keep you honest with yourself. 😉