“Honesty Saves Everyone’s Time.”
I don’t know where I read it, but the simple truth of this statement captured my attention. I decided to give it a try one night while lying in bed with my husband. Something was bothering me, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about it.
“What’s wrong?” he asked me.
Normally I’d answer that question in one of two ways:
A. Say, “Nothing” because I was trying to deal with my feelings on my own.
B. Say, “Nothing” in an attempt to get him to chase me down. His pursuit to ascertain my emotions would register as love to me because he cared. If he took me at my word that nothing was wrong, then I was allowed to lay in bed feeling rejected and angry. Messed up? Sure. Unhealthy? Absolutely.
Honesty Saves Everyone’s Time. I decided to give it a try.
I told him whatever it was that I was upset about. We talked about it. And because I hadn’t required him to chase me down to prove he loved me and I hadn’t tried to hide my feelings either, the issue was quickly resolved. There is freedom found in honesty. The freedom to express yourself, your desires, and needs, the freedom to strip away the facade of trying to be who you think people want you to be. It can also be kind of terrifying.
I consider myself an honest person. However, I discovered that in the name of not hurting someone’s feelings, I can cover up the whole truth quite easily. I give half-truths when the truth, spoken kindly, would be just as effective. I’m pretty sure that I’ve hurt more people by trying to placate them with excuses rather than just being honest upfront.
To be honest with others, though, I have to be honest with myself.
Am I afraid of rejection? Is that why I won’t tell that friend that I don’t want to go to that event or activity? I don’t like to admit that things upset me. Admitting that someone hurt me may mean swallowing my pride. Would I rather choose passive-aggressive techniques with my husband when just admitting that we need to talk about something would be the more direct and mature approach?
Some people won’t appreciate honesty. They may take your “no” personally. I’ve gotten myself into plenty of messes to avoid sensitive feelings. It’s easy to forget that it’s my job to be kind and honest. I can’t control how the other person is going to receive it.
I have a friend who will tell me if she’s not interested in doing something that I’ve suggested. It’s not personal because I know she loves spending time with me. It’s just that the activity that I’ve planned doesn’t appeal to her. And, that’s okay. There are activities that don’t appeal to me either. Or places I don’t really want to go. This is easier to do with a really strong, well-established friendship. But it’s good to practice being direct on a person who trusts that you love them.
Take note of those people around you that are direct. Not the ones who are critical or “just telling it like it is.” Those people aren’t honest. They are insecure and mean. No, the people you can learn from are those who can speak the truth with love. The ones who have simplified the art of truth-telling. Learn from those people. I think women are especially prone to half-truths because we know other women can be really sensitive (ourselves included) and we’d rather be overly polite and kind rather than hurting someone. I can tell you as someone who has had my feelings hurt by directness: it didn’t hurt me. It made me think. Why should honesty hurt my feelings? Is the person rejecting me or am I over-reacting?
Honesty requires growing up. But, oh the freedom in being truthful. And the time and energy it saves are worth adding this value to your life.
Originally published August 2018.