Can I be honest? I don’t think we’re honest.
The other day, a colleague and friend asked me if I could adjust my schedule to accommodate an extra activity. While on the phone with her, I started to check my schedule, and she said, “Be honest.” She knew my first desire would be to help her, and I might complicate my day for her.
Everything within me wanted to agree to this extra activity, but I couldn’t.
As I hemmed and hawed, my friend again asked me to be honest.
We’re so afraid of honesty that we slide around the truth, believing we’re protecting ourselves or the other person in a difficult situation.
But that’s not the truth. So we tell little white lies. Or we lie to ourselves.
You know them. They’ve been used against you. You’ve used them—little white lies.
Why do we struggle to say what is true?
Let me propose something here. The enemy of our souls uses the little white lie tactic on us continually—one degree off of the truth. Just enough believability to trick us into succumbing to the deception. It’s not a new tactic, but one he’s used since the beginning of time quite successfully.
Unfortunately, these one-degree-off-the-truth-lies get us into trouble time and time again.
Every time we do not speak the truth to one another, we damage our integrity, wound our souls, and compromise our values.
Learning to speak the truth in all situations takes practice. Often, we take one small step forward followed by a couple or several large steps backward. As humans, this is part of our struggle. So, don’t beat yourself up.
Today, it’s time to trust yourself enough to be honest in the big and small.
Get honest with yourself first.
Learning honesty starts with yourself. How can you be honest with others when you don’t confront your issues? You can’t. I can’t. Often, the hardest place to practice honesty is within.
When was the last time you stopped long enough to look at the person in the mirror and hold a frank conversation? Frank talk about your reality is not the same as negative self-talk. Taking the time to assess your current status accurately and objectively allows you to take the necessary steps toward developing integrity. This assessment frees you to become who you desire to be. It’s time to go after that freedom.
Heal your wounds.
It is possible to heal personal wounds. Notice a theme here? Honesty begins with yourself. The time and investment in you yield benefits beyond your imagination.
I remember when I first heard the diagnosis, “Suicidal Depression.” It ripped open my soul and destroyed my belief system. How could someone who believed in God be suicidally depressed? It didn’t make sense to me. However, I had to stare that wound deep in the face to find the road to recovery. I couldn’t do it alone, which meant I invested time and resources to get the help I needed. Not only was I a woman dealing with the aftershocks from discovering her husband’s porn addiction, but I also suffered from this other mental illness. It was a double whammy. Getting help was the best decision I made.
Know what you believe.
Living in duplicity, however minor or major, depletes you on every level. Decisions are draining, especially when you’re not entirely certain what you believe. Your words and actions aren’t entirely truthful because they aren’t rooted. They sway back and forth in different directions depending on the situation. Do you remember the Aesop Fable about the boy who cried wolf? Just like every parable or fable, there’s a nugget of truth tucked into a relatable story. When the boy actually did see the wolf and his life was in danger, no one believed him because of the lies he’d told multiple times. The boy erroneously thought those little white lies were harmless. But, he destroyed his integrity. The townspeople labeled him as untrustworthy.
If you desire to be trustworthy, your words and actions must be truthful. It’s that simple and difficult. No one ever does it perfectly. Not even people we view as saintly, such as Mother Teresa. The Bible tells us to let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Anything beyond that damages who we are. And reflects poorly on our values.
How do we apply this level of honesty to every difficult situation?
Here’s a coaching exercise we work through. While it appears simple, it requires gut-level truth and facing facts. It helps you get honest with yourself.
Grab a piece of paper or open a blank document on your computer.
Make three columns and label them:
Start with a challenging situation and write down your thoughts regarding it under these three categories.
Be honest ;-). You can look at your life too, but the more general is often more difficult.
Key: The only column you can doing anything about is the control column.
If you’ve been honest, it’s a short list.
Look at everything in the no control and let go columns.
Allow yourself permission to turn your back on everything in those columns. Yes, you let each item go. You mentally and emotionally toss them away because you have no impact on them.
For those things on the control list, identify your next step.
If you can’t identify the next step, consider that it might need to move to one of the other columns.
For example, let’s say you feel exhausted because you think you are the only wife whose husband doesn’t meet all her needs.
CONTROL: What can you control? Your thoughts. The other wives you spend time with. Your role in the relationship.
NO CONTROL: What can’t you control? Him! How others may view your marriage.
LET GO: What do you need to let go of? His performance. Your image with other wives. You can’t control how they view you. Some Rom-com-movie ideal of the perfect husband. His past mistakes. Your past mistakes. Worries about the future. False expectations.
See how an objective look at an idea that felt so giant and scary helps? It doesn’t solve the issue other than it does present the difficult situation to begin to move forward. You can objectively look at it and let go of those things you can’t affect.
The beauty of this exercise is you can do it in any and every difficult situation.
Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, beautifully exemplifies this exercise. He realized that though he was in a concentration camp, stripped of every right and dignity, he could control his mind. When Frankl quit lying about what he could and could not control, he says he found meaning and freedom. Isn’t that what we want? I know it’s what I desire.