Learning About Honesty At Age Fifty
by Kathleen Howe
In my personal growth recovery journey I believe the most significant thing I have learned
is about the freeing sense that the truth offers us. In order to live in "the truth" one must be extremely honest. While being free is wonderful - learning to live in total honesty
isn't that easy. You would think it could be. All you would have to do would be to talk yourself into taking a vow of honesty.
"From this moment on... I will always tell the truth, being totally honest with myself and every person I encounter."
I can do that. Along comes the first person of
the day that I interact with. I am concentrating on the conversation because I don't want to miss anything because I want
to be honest in my interaction. After all, I vowed to be honest. Then comes this question
from my teenager daughter, "Mom... ummm... I was just watching a television show and there was a mom that was telling her
kids about the days when she was young and she smoked pot and drank beer. Did you do that when you were a teenager?"
My brain seems to be struggling with this. I want to just come
right out and tell her the truth and be honest about my hippie days... being a flower child...
and the days of, "make love not war," but I'm not sure about what that would initiate with her behavior. Would she begin to
think that if it was alright for mom to do, then she could do it too? Do I want to really be honest
with her about this subject?
I can see her impatience. Being honest
is hard sometimes. I'm fidgeting and she is beginning to laugh at me. "Okay, forget it... I can tell you were smoking pot
and drinking but you don't want to tell me about it because you think that I'll think it's okay for me to do it if you tell
me that you did it!" And she's off! She's gone! She leaves me standing there red in the face and gasping for air.
It doesn't take long for my husband to enter into the picture
and he starts asking me about the bills. "Did I pay the electric bill?" "Did I pay the cable bill?" "Did I make the house
payment?" Blah, blah, blah and I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to tell him that I forgot to pay the bills because
he'll start yelling at me. I'm realizing suddenly that I've vowed to be honest. I look up
at him and he's like an ogre ready to take off my head if I tell him that I didn't pay the bills. His breath stinks because
he just went out and smoked one of those hated cigarettes. He has those same shorts and t-shirt on that he has had on all
Then I think about all the times that I've just said, "Yes."
when he asked me the same question although it wasn't true because I just didn't want to be bothered with him. It didn't matter
to me if I told him the truth about the bills or not. Honesty never mattered to me really because I just never thought about
being "dishonest" when I just said something to get him off my back.
I began to study about the truth though. I wanted to be able
to always state the truth. I knew it would be a great tool for my changing my life to not be in constant fear of things. No
wonder I was always afraid. No wonder I never felt safe with anyone. I never knew what I had said to them; in terms of the
truth or being honest. I has listened to Randy Pausch's Last Lecture and learned about what he thought was the number one
most important thing in the world - the truth.
I had never thought much about the truth because no one I knew had ever cared about it much. I had
husbands who cheated on me. My mother had told me when I was a child that if I told her the truth, I wouldn't get in trouble.
I trusted her, told the truth, and I got in big trouble. I witnessed every family member telling lies and not
thinking anything about it. "I'm going to tell you this, but don't tell so and so.... because they don't like me to talk
to you about things like this...."
I saw liars in business. They all lied to me. I would overhear them contradicting themselves constantly.
It just became a non-issue with me. I never questioned anyone because I just assumed what they were telling me might
not be true. That was how I had lived my life - not caring whether or not I told the truth because no one ever told me
the truth. But then I became a mother. Then my kids began to tell me lies. Then I started to wonder if they thought I was
I was right about the wondering about it all... because yes, sometimes they weren't sure I was telling them
the truth. They thought I didn't care about the truth - which was correct; but I did care if they told the truth. They were
after all, my kids.
The more I studied, the more I realized that I had been living
so many lies. I know I was experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and depression as well as an eating disorder; but still
.... there comes a time when you have to face reality. I hadn't been able to be truthful because I hadn't wanted people to
know what I had gone through and what I was experiencing. There's such a stigma that comes along with being a victim of domestic
violence and having a mental illness.
I had met people at work and didn't want to get into my personal past. It's hard though to talk about your
kids and your life without the past coming up. So people I thought I could hold off with a little white lie became my friends.
Each lie perpetuated another lie. Then if someone started asking me questions it really got out of control.
The same thing happened to me with friends I was meeting online. I would chat with them, not intentionally
lying to them, but I wanted to avoid revealing how sick I was. I told them that I was going to counseling and being treated
for being a victim of domestic violence, but I still couldn't tell them the whole truth. The whole truth was too revealing.
I was afraid to be vulnerable.
Eventually the world came crashing down on me and I had to come to terms with the fact that I had to start
being honest with myself and with my family and friends. I had to start being honest all of the time. As soon as I began trying,
it became easier and easier. Then I started to feel less fearful. It was a strange realization, but it was the truth! Being
honest could set you free!
It's not always easy to tell the truth. My mother and father never stressed the importance of honesty and
truth. I had to learn about it all at age fifty. Strange enough but true... I love honesty and I love being free from trying
to remember what I had told someone about my past. I just tell them what I want to tell them now and if I don't want to tell
them anything I tell them that I'm not comfortable talking about my past with them. It's that easy!
Now I'm re-parenting myself and my kids to be more honest. I love my kids so much and I've told them that
no matter what they tell me I will still love them. I've had to instill a sense of safety with them. It's not always easy
to keep all their secrets, but I feel honored when they tell me things. Being honest has such wonderful benefits. Just try
out being honest. It does take some time, but if you think about what you are going to say - before you say it - it's much
Several years ago I began paying attention to all the things
I did not say to people. I watched as I silenced myself, lied, rationalized, spoke half-truths or told the truth in such a
“nice” way that I wasn’t even sure any more what “truth” I was trying to speak.
I then began to watch other people do the same thing. It was
fascinating. I watched women tell one friend they weren’t feeling well enough to go out - only to find they went out
with a different friend. I saw men telling women they would call when they had no intention whatsoever to call. I saw parents
lying to their children because they didn’t think their children should hear the truth. I saw husbands lying to wives
about what time they would be home and wives lying to husbands about whether they were mad or not.
The list goes on and on and I’m sure you can come up with
your own lists, however what struck me during this time was how unreal we, as a culture, have become. We have become so skilled
at not telling the truth about what we are seeing, thinking, feeling, or doing, that much of the time we don’t even
realize when we lie, omit, or misrepresent ourselves.
We can not have real, authentic, intimate relationships, if
we are not real and authentic. We have to begin to step out, begin to take risks, and begin to be honest if we want to have
truly intimate relationships in our lives. If we are bothered by something someone does, we need to speak it. If we are angry,
we need to acknowledge that we are angry and stop trying to pretend we are not. If we made a bad decision, we need to face
the consequences of that decision. Our relationships will never become intimate if we do not share ourselves in an intimate
way by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, speak honestly and handle what happens as a result.
Challenge: Bring honesty into your relationship. Tell your partner
how you feel, answer their questions honestly and commit to being more “real” in your relationships.
source site: click here
deep honesty: a spiritual path
by adam khan
MOST PEOPLE WHO MEDITATE started
meditating for practical reasons. They had high blood pressure or insomnia or an explosive temper. They read the abundance
of scientific research showing that regular meditation can measurably improve physical and mental health, and they began.
But some of these people,
after they have meditated for awhile, find meaning in the practice. They find spiritual value - something beyond the immediate,
practical benefits. Something more profound. The practice of honesty may be that way for
Not as much research has been
done on the benefits of honesty, but what has been done points to significant and
wide-ranging benefits, mainly on your health and your relationships. I'll talk about those shortly.
This article has three sections.
In the first section, we'll be looking at what benefits you will gain from honesty. We'll
look at what has been discovered by researchers.
In the second section, you'll
learn some useful ideas about how to make your honesty easier on both you and on the person
you're talking to. Some of these ideas make a huge difference in whether your honesty increases
the pleasure you get out of life or makes your life a living hell. Honesty is powerful,
and needs to be handled with intelligence and skill.
The third section (you'll see a link to it at the end of this page) is about a deeper, more complete honesty. It is a translation of the essay, Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It's about being true
to your deep self, being true to your purpose, fulfilling your potential, expressing your gifts. It's about being what George
Bernard Shaw called "a force of nature rather than a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining
that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." This is where honesty becomes
a spiritual path; it becomes a way to peace and contentment and fulfillment - not only personal fulfillment, but fulfillment
of what we might call your destiny.
may be thinking, Emerson was an American. Why would his essay need to be translated?
I translated Self-Reliance
from its original eloquent, poetic prose (filled with words no longer in common use)
into modern, readable English. After reading my translation, I hope you find yourself a copy of Emerson's original version and read it with more understanding. That essay is the most powerful
piece of writing on deep honesty I've ever come across.
The best way to use this article
is to take the principle that really stands out for you right now and practice it. Make it the thing you're doing these days.
Have the principle printed onto a dog tag and wear it around your neck, or have some other way of reminding yourself. If you
choose one that doesn't take a lot of time, and you want faster improvement, you can pick another one and practice that one
too. Keep adding principles until you start to get uncomfortable or it seems too much, and then drop what seems like the least
important one. Relax and have a good time with this. Deep honesty can be an enjoyable and
deeply rewarding lifelong spiritual practice.
Another way to approach this
material is to look though it when you're experiencing a problem in your life and find something you are not doing that really
needs to be done. Stop there and start applying that principle in earnest. Make it your hobby to apply that one until it is
part of your life.
The practice of honesty is
difficult at times, but you are creating a new level of being, a new way of life, and you'll have a higher level of satisfaction,
contentment and challenge than you are used to. It's great, and it exacts a great price.
The most likely alternative
to deep honesty - the other end of the spectrum - is a safe, wasted, hidden, lonely unlived
life. Is that what you were afraid of? You can start doing something about it today. Let's get started.
This section started when
a talk show called me to ask if I'd be willing to be a guest on a program called Is Honesty the Best Policy? In preparing
myself to talk to the producer about it, I looked over the information I'd collected over the years and looking at it all
at once like this, I realized this subject had not been covered the way I think it deserves to be covered. So I wrote this
I haven't always been honest.
When I first met Klassy, my wife, who has been honest her whole life, she had a difficult time getting me to open up and be
more honest. It was a rough ride for both of us. But I am glad I became more honest. By not pretending, by speaking up about
what I want and what I feel, by allowing myself to be what I am without apology, I have become a better, happier, more relaxed
person, and my relationship with Klassy is closer than I've ever experienced with anyone, by a long shot. And, according to
the studies, my health is better, too. Let's look at some of the research.
more closeness in relationships
One of the biggest advantages
of becoming more honest is that your relationships will be closer. That is, you'll have a greater feeling of connection to
the people you're honest with and you'll feel more love for them. John Gottman, a researcher at the University of Washington
and the author of The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage,
Family, and Friendships, found to his surprise that some couples who avoid disagreements
stay together. Yes, you read that right. These marriages are "successful" in the sense that they are long-lasting. But Gottman
also found they are lonely marriages.
You can avoid conflict by
hiding your likes and dislikes, but you forfeit closeness. Part of feeling close to someone is that they know you. And the
only way for someone to get to know you is for you to be honest.
It's ironic that the main
reason people avoid conflict is because they want to be loved. We pretend to be what we aren't, to like what we don't like,
we don't speak up about what we really want or feel. We don't want disagreements. We don't want to be rejected. We don't want
to hurt the other person or be hurt by them. We want love.
But, as Klassy has told me
many times, love flows on a communication line. Communication is like a pipeline between two people. The more open we are, the more open the pipeline. And this same pipeline is the how
love and affection flow from one person to another, so the more open the pipeline, the more love and affection can flow through
By hiding parts of themselves,
people narrow the pipeline, thus closing off the very thing that they want in their attempt to get it.
Become more open and honest
with the people you love, and you open the channel. You'll experience greater love and affection.
relationships improve over time
Another thing Gottman discovered
about "avoidant couples" (couples who tend to avoid disagreement) is that
when they first get married, they were happier than honest couples. They were happier with their marriage.
But three years later, the
situation had reversed. The avoidant couples weren't as satisfied with their marriage and more of them had divorced or were
headed for divorce. And the more honest, open couples were now happier with their marriages because their marriages had improved.
Honesty helps relationships
improve. Honesty allows problems to be solved. You can't solve a problem if you don't really
know what it's about! It's like two people trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when one of you has some pieces in your
pocket. It doesn't matter how committed you are or how hard you try, you will never be able to solve that puzzle. Honesty helps relationships improve over time.
higher quality people in your life
Julian Rotter of the University
of Connecticut compared the social lives of habitually honest people with the social lives of people who agreed with statements
like You have to hide your feelings from others and You can't afford to be honest. He found that honest people
had a tendency to attract trustworthy, truthful, supportive people into their lives. The less honest people tended to attract disloyal, evasive, unreliable people into their
Your honesty literally repels
dishonest people away from you and attracts honest people to you. Dishonesty repels honest people and attracts dishonest people
into your life.
So simply by becoming more
honest, the quality of the people you interact with will improve over time.
better physical health
Researchers have studied this
one quite a bit. The leader of the pack is James Pennebaker of Southern Methodist University, author of Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions. The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of
Health have helped fund his research. Pennebaker found that people who habitually withhold information about themselves, especially
about traumatic events, are much more susceptible to contagious diseases than people who are more open and honest.
One qualification you should
know about is that you should only reveal your honesty to people you can trust. But given
that limitation, honesty improves your immune system. It's good for your physical health.
better mental health
In a survey of 425 psychologists,
social workers, psychiatrists, and marriage and family counselors, almost all of them (96%) thought that becoming more "open,
genuine, and honest" was an essential requirement for mental health. Let me point out that they didn't merely think honesty was a good idea. These people, who spend every day working with peoples' real-life problems,
are convinced that honesty is essential for mental health. A requirement.
Of course. Think about it.
Sanity entails dealing with reality. Honesty is about reality. It's about admitting the
truth to yourself and also admitting it to others. Honesty equals sanity. Deceit and pretense are bad for your mental health.
feel better in general
In a study by Santa Clara
University in California, researchers found that people who habitually keep secrets, especially about embarrassing or painful
experiences, tend to suffer from
more aches and pains
And they have higher levels
of depression and anxiety. Dishonesty produces unpleasant side-effects. Becoming more honest will make you feel better in
suffer less stress
The reason a needle jumps
around so much on a lie detector is that lying is stressful. So is pretending, withholding, and misleading. If a person is
dishonest with a stranger, the event is only temporarily stressful. But in a close relationship, the Deceit needs to be maintained,
which causes prolonged stress.
You can't relax and be yourself
when you're hiding and pretending.
Often honesty causes conflict, which also causes stress. But greater honesty will
lower your stress level in the long run. Problems get solved. You no longer have the ongoing stress of hiding and pretending.
When you're honest, people
tend to trust you. I have seen no scientific studies on this, but I'll bet the research will eventually prove it true. People
can sense honesty.
And when you're honest, you
trust yourself more. It takes a certain amount of discipline to be honest and in the demonstration of your honesty, you learn you can count on yourself. So another side-effect of being honest is that you'll feel better
Become more honest and people
will trust you more. And you'll trust yourself and feel better about yourself.
INTELLIGENT, SKILLFUL HONESTY
Honesty is honesty, and it really needs no skill. However, to make your honesty easier
on the people you love, to make it easier for them, to make it less likely to cause a divorce, to make sure it doesn't get
you fired, there are some useful things to know. Here they are:
the transformation of criticism
Never criticize. That is one
of the most important rules for skillful honesty. It seems that this rule would prevent
you from being honest, but it doesn't. One way to avoid criticizing is to become less honest: keep your mouth shut or lie about what you really feel. The other way to avoid criticizing
is to become more honest.
The fact is, a criticism is
not an honest statement. Remember that. A criticism is not honest. "You are an inconsiderate
jerk" is not an honest statement; it's a criticism.
A criticism tends to be an
overgeneralization rather than an accurate statement. It also tends to attack the person rather than the action.
You can immediately improve
your honesty and make your communication more productive by upgrading your criticisms into complaints. I don't like it when you forget my birthday is more
honest than You are an inconsiderate jerk. It's more honest
and it's easier for the person to listen to. It's easier to accept. It's less likely to cause an upset or an argument.
You can take it a step further
and upgrade your criticism to a request. Now we're really getting direct and effective. I want you to make it up to me;
I want you to take me out to dinner. A request is an honest, direct statement of what
you want. It is kinder, more respectful, and future-oriented. It is even easier to hear than a complaint because you're not
talking about the past (which has already happened and which you cannot change),
you're talking about the future. There is no blame in the future and something can be done about it.
I can't emphasize it enough:
Criticism is not honesty. You don't care about me is not an honest
statement. It is an accusation and an attempt at mind reading. Be more accurate: When you forgot my birthday, I
felt sad. I still feel sad, because the only way I can imagine myself forgetting your birthday is if I didn't care about you
Accusations and criticisms
are not honest expressions. To turn them into honest statements,
try this rule of thumb: Make your sentences start with I feel or I want. But that simple technique won't work
by itself. You have to make sure you're telling the most accurate truth you can. I feel you're an idiot isn't accurate. You're an idiot is not a feeling. Feelings are very basic: Angry,
sad, happy, afraid, worried, frustrated, etc.
One of the rules of Buddhism
is what they call the practice of nonharming. That is, trying not to harm other living beings. What a beautiful concept.
Speaking honestly is a way of "nonharming" yourself, and speaking honestly
without blaming or attacking is a way of "nonharming" the listener.
Intelligent, skillful honesty includes upgrading your criticisms to complaints and your complaints to requests.
the 25-minute rule
Try never to discuss anything
when you're upset. John Gottman, the researcher from the University of Washington, found that when your heart rate goes above
100 beats per minute, you have so much adrenaline flooding your system that your body is in a fight-or-flight mode. This stressful,
all-systems-on-full-alarm state is not a good state to be in when you're trying to work things out with another person.
When you're upset, your point
of view becomes narrow and one-sided, your empathy disappears, your perception is distorted, and your level of rationality
drops. It is more difficult to be honest when you're upset. And it is much harder for the
other person to listen to you.
Honesty needs to be expressed
with respect for the other, with appreciation for the point of view of the other. Good basic human relations skills should
be used to make honest communications not received in a way that attacks, demeans, or insults the person - in a way that communicates information rather that communicating to punish. Making sure you never try to talk when you're upset is one way to help this happen.
Sometimes when you speak honestly, the listener will get upset. When they get upset, it tends to upset you, and your upset
tends to further upset the other in an escalating feedback loop. When you feel yourself getting upset, take a break. You can
even go so far as to measure your heart rate. I've done this. I have a watch that measures your heart rate, and once Klassy
and I were arguing and I felt a little upset, so I checked my heart rate. It was 120! And I didn't even feel very upset.
The normal, resting heart
rate for a man is around 72. For a woman it is 82. If your heart rate is above 100, take a break. Even a slight increase has
an effect. Gottman found that when the heart rate rises to only 80 beats per minute for a man and 90 for a woman, "physiological
arousal makes it hard to focus on what the other person is saying, which leads to increased defensiveness and hostility." He also found that in a disagreement, a man's heart rate and blood pressure rise much higher than a woman's. Other research
shows that although the woman's blood pressure doesn't rise as high in an argument, it remains elevated longer.
One of Gottman's most helpful
discoveries is that it takes about 20-25 minutes for the body to calm back down to a normal level after being upset. That's
why we recommend taking a break from an upsetting conversation. Then you can come back and talk about it without the being
But when you take a break,
don't just go sit in a silent room and run the conversation over and over through your head, proving your point and finding
all the reasons your partner is completely out of his or her mind! Your body will never calm down that way. When you take
a break, do something that engages your mind. You want to get your mind completely off the argument. Watch TV, read a book,
listen to a self-help tape, listen to music, do some engaging work, go for a walk.
But do not suppress your thoughts.
Suppressing a thought makes it stronger and more insistent. Simply get involved in something that requires your full attention.
Your mind will have to temporarily let the argument go, and then your body can calm down.
I used to really go crazy
during arguments with Klassy. I would get so upset I was beside myself. And the intensity of my upset would just make things
worse. One of the main things that freaked me out so much was my thought that this might be The End. I somehow assumed that
if we were arguing that intensely, it might lead to a divorce.
Klassy rarely got that upset,
and now I realize part of it may be simply that she's a woman and not biologically as prone to upset. But I once asked her
how she kept from being so upset, and she shared a technique with me that really helped me calm down. She imagines the worst.
She also sometimes felt that this argument would lead to divorce, but she didn't suppress the thought, she followed it through.
Okay, let's say we get divorced. Then what? She let herself imagine what would happen. We would move to different living
places. She imagined what her life would be like without me. She imagined herself going on and finding another, better man,
and being happy in the future.
When I tried this, I found
it very effective. I faced the horror and realized I would survive and even go on with my life and eventually even have fun
- even if this were The End. This made it easier for me to calm down, and kept our fights from getting out of hand. I used
it for many years and I can't tell you how many hours of my life I saved by using it. I now pass this excellent technique
on to you.
When you have calmed down,
think about the situation again. You'll be able to think about it more reasonably. Then go back and continue the conversation.
You'll find your discussion is a lot more productive when you're calm. Take a break when it gets heated. This is skillful
one thing at a time
Probably all of us at one
time or another have made this mistake: Avoid speaking up about several things because you don't really want to create an
upset. And then something finally snaps and makes you angry. Then, you figure since you already have an upset to deal with,
you start bringing up everything else that has bothered you for the last six months. This is a harmful way to be honest. It overwhelms the listener, making it hard to listen. And it is difficult, even in the best of moods,
to deal with more than one issue at a time.
The rule is, keep your conversation
on one subject at a sitting. Deal with only one issue at a time. When the conversation starts to drift into other subjects,
bring it back. Say something like, We can deal with that another time; let's just talk about this one thing for now.
Make a note of it if you need to make sure you'll remember.
Anger is a courageous emotion.
But it is also destructive and reckless. Many people think that anger should be communicated because it is unhealthy to hold
it in. But this is a misrepresentation of the facts.
The expression of the emotion
of anger only serves to make you angrier. It does not "vent" it. It doesn't get rid of the feeling. This has been proven several
different ways in research, but you can demonstrate it to yourself simply by paying attention.
things you want to say in order to avoid dealing with it doesn't work either. It has negative consequences for your health
and for your relationships.
But there is a third alternative.
You can communicate what you are angry about, but not while you're angry. Think about what is making you angry. Try to turn your criticisms
and accusations into honest statements about what you want (requests)
and what you feel. And then wait until you feel calm. Then sit down and communicate. That is the sanest, most productive, healthiest way to do it. And talk about one thing at a time.
You'll mess up. We all do.
You'll sometimes burst out with anger and be sorry afterwards for some of the things you said, not because they were honest, but because they were overstated and hurtful. When you make a mistake like this, don't criticize yourself either. Make vows about how you will do it in the future. Use
all that energy you have, all that intensity, all that bad feeling of being sorry and ashamed and channel it into the future.
Channel it into a renewed determination to follow the guidelines in this section. That is the skillful, intelligent way to
deal with mistakes.
When you say something honest,
the other person will probably have a reaction to it. Sometimes it is a negative reaction. Sometimes it is a very intensely
negative reaction. That is the time to listen. Listen with all your heart. Really listen. By that I mean doing these
1. Give the
person your full attention. When your mind wanders, when you have the impulse to say something, when you find yourself criticizing what they're saying, and mentally making a case for "your side," calmly
and gently, but firmly bring your mind back to what the person is trying to tell you.
2. Don't interrupt. The temptation
is very powerful. But the whole conversation will be so much more productive if you can restrain yourself. Keep listening.
You can have your say later. Right now is the time to let them unload themselves. Let them unburden their thoughts. Help them
3. Let them feel whatever they feel.
Don't try to talk them out of feeling that way. Never say or imply You shouldn't feel that way. If that's the way they feel
at the moment, that's the way they feel. Accept it. Remind yourself that feelings change. But right now, that's the way they
feel. You will hear them making mistakes and criticizing rather than telling you really how they feel. This is not the time
to teach them new skills. You can talk about that some other time. Right now try to understand as best as you can what they
When you listen well, it helps
make your conversations constructive. It helps your discussions get somewhere, accomplish something. Information and understanding
will be able to flow between you, allowing your pipeline to widen, leading to a greater feeling of closeness and affection
what you speak into
It really helps if you have
plenty of positivity already in your relationship before you speak a difficult truth. Specifically, plenty of these:
2. acts of caring
3. demonstrations of
If there is a good amount
of this stuff going on between you, your relationship can more easily handle a difficult communication than if you lack it. In the absence of a positive condition, an honest statement can be
especially upsetting and disruptive.
the master discipline
Practice speaking the strict
truth. This is much harder than it seems on first glance. If you took this one principle and practiced it, really concentrated
on it for a few weeks, you'd be surprised at your new level of honesty. When you are trying
to say something honest to someone, it makes a difference if you are being very strict with
yourself about how you're saying it. To make our case, we tend to exaggerate or skew the facts in our favor. To dramatize
your point, you might feel tempted to say something that if you really thought about it, you know isn't the absolute truth. Restrain yourself. Be careful about this.
Overgeneralization is a pretty
common mistake, especially when feeling hurt or angry. You never…You always… Try to be specific. Yesterday you didn't call me. Say only what you know
to be strictly true. It keeps your communication more honest, and it is way more productive. For one thing, you won't get sidetracked into petty squabbles about whether you really always do this or really never say
This is the master discipline.
If you focus on only one principle, this is it, because many of the other principles are really subcategories of this one.
HONESTY IS THE BEST
policy. Not because someone in authority says it is. Not because you might get found out. But because it has practical benefits
in your life - benefits that outweigh the costs in the long run by a long shot.
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Initiating Relationships with Openness, Honesty and Directness
By Steve Pavlina
I’ve never resonated with the usual dating and courtship
Traditional dating is actually one of our society’s most
ineffective inventions. The main reason it gets so much attention is the commercial engine that drives it. Restaurants, movie
theatres, jewelers, etc. want you to believe that spending money on their products and services equals romance. If you’ve
swallowed this belief system, I assure you that you’ve been duped. This belief system stems from marketing, not truth.
It has virtually no connection to the realities of human relationships.
Erin and I were already boyfriend-girlfriend before we ever
went on a typical date. Most of the time we got together, we went straight to each other’s homes, where we could talk
one-on-one for hours. Our first face-to-face meeting happened at my apartment, not at a “neutral” public place.
From the very beginning, we established high trust. Worrying about safety or second-guessing each other’s intentions
wasn’t a concern — our thoughts simply weren’t at that level. We invested our time in getting to know each
other on a very deep level, declining to fill our interactions with public distractions.
If you really like someone, aim to spend lots of one-on-one
time together with no distractions. Talk about your lives, and unearth each other’s interests. Share your hopes and
dreams. Bypass small talk, and dive into what’s really important to you. Speak soulfully and listen attentively. This
way you can create an amazing connection in a matter of hours that would take weeks to accomplish with traditional dating.
Dating is a rather timid way to get to know someone. It’s
as if you’re creating a buffer of distractions in case things go wrong. This method is slow, boring, and largely pointless.
It can also be unnecessarily expensive, causing you to mistakenly think you can’t initiate new relationships when finances
There’s a much more direct way to express interest in
someone you like and to kick off a mutual exploration of relationship possibilities. It’s faster, cheaper, and a lot
Simply tell any potential partner up front how you feel about
them and that you’d love to explore relationship possibilities together. Then ask if they feel the same.
This may take some courage, but it takes very little time.
As Erin and I got to know each other, I realized I was becoming
attracted to her. I wasn’t sure if she felt the same about me, but I suspected that she did. I could have entered a
dating frame and progressed slowly. But instead I simply opened up and told her how I felt. We were talking on the phone one
day, and I said something like: “Erin, I want you to know that I really like you. I think you’re a very special
woman, and we obviously have a lot in common. I’ve love to develop a closer relationship with you. I’m wondering
if you feel the same.”
How long did that take? About 12 seconds.
Erin’s response was very positive. In fact, by the end
of that phone call, we already saw ourselves as being boyfriend-girlfriend.
Alternatively, I could have played all sorts of silly games
to try to figure out how Erin felt about me. The direct approach achieved a resolution in less than one minute. What could
This openness and directness quickly took our relationship to
a whole new level. Erin knew she could trust me and that I wouldn’t play games with her. We established a long-term
connection based on honesty and openness.
To this day Erin and I know we can talk to each other about
anything. We don’t have to manipulate or second-guess each other to get our needs met. We can simply say how we’re
feeling and ask for what we want.
This is how I’d expect to begin any new relationship as
well. When I get to know a person a little and sense that something wonderful could develop if we were to mutually progress
to a deeper, more intimate level of sharing, I’ll share my thoughts and feelings openly with her and then ask if she
feels the same.
This makes it safe for her to be open and honest with me as well. In fact, I did this with someone recently, and her response was incredibly positive.
(I’m not going to reveal who she is, so please don’t ask. I may not be very
private myself, but I respect the privacy of others unless they tell me they’re okay with sharing certain things publicly.)
I find her to be a fascinating woman, and I’m excited to get to know her better. Had I not been so open and direct with
her, I might never have known that she had similar feelings toward me.
Rejection Is Still a Good Outcome
You might be thinking that the direct approach takes a lot of
courage, perhaps more courage than you feel you can reasonably muster.
It certainly can take a bit of courage, depending on the circumstances,
but mainly it requires common sense reasoning.
You must realize that a rejection is still a good outcome.
If the other person appreciates my directness but doesn’t
share my feelings toward her, then I know I intuitively misread her, and that’s perfectly okay. This makes it easy for
me to let go and shift my attention to someone else. I might be disappointed at first, but I’d still appreciate such
a response because she’s being honest with me too. She’s also saving me a lot of time and potential grief.
On the other hand, suppose she reacts negatively to my directness
itself. Once again, I learn that I misread her. Such a match would have been a mistake because anyone who doesn’t appreciate
openness, honesty, and directness wouldn’t make a good partner for me anyway. I have
no desire to enter relationships with people who prefer game-playing, drama, deception, or manipulation as opposed to straightforward
openness and honesty. So being direct is an efficient way to quickly disqualify such people.
Again, this saves me time and potential grief.
Now suppose her response is positive. She appreciates my directness
and admits that she shares my feelings, if only in a small, noncommittal way. Now we’re off and running to explore a
deeper connection together. Our shields are down, and we’re waving each other in. It may be too soon to fully fathom
how we feel about each other, but at least we’ve agreed to begin to explore our possibilities together. There are few
things more exciting in life than this.
When you are direct, it doesn’t mean your request will
be automatically accepted, but a rejection is still much better than pussyfooting around and playing guessing games for weeks
Being Direct Earns Respect
I have TREMENDOUS respect for people who are open, honest, and direct in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and desires. This is a very rare character trait,
and it always makes people stand out in a positive way. To be blunt, it impresses the hell out of me whenever I see it.
As a fairly active and busy person, I simply don’t have
time for people who beat around the bush and fail to state plainly what they want, even though it’s obvious they want
something. Unfortunately, I have to deal with quite a bit of this as a blogger. When people are vague and indirect about expressing
their thoughts, feelings, and desires, usually because they’re afraid of rejection, it’s a huge turnoff. They
simply don’t create the conditions where I can feel good about saying yes.
Another problem is when people try to connect with me under
false pretenses, offering up one motive for meeting and later performing a bait and switch. This practice immediately drops
my respect for such people to absolute zero, and I quickly dump them from my life. I have no tolerance for deception and manipulation.
As a general rule, I’ve found that other busy people tend
to respect directness as well. Directness is very classy, whether in relationships, business, or other social situations.
Please take note that directness doesn’t mean being pushy
or annoying. Directness means that you’re open and honest in sharing your thoughts,
feelings, and intentions with others. It doesn’t mean you browbeat people to get what you want. Once you voice your
desires, you must give the other person the freedom to accept or reject what you’re offering.
Responding to Other People’s Directness
Suppose a female friend said to me, “Steve, I really like
you. I’d love for us to develop a closer, more intimate friendship, maybe something physical if that feels right too. I think we have a lot in common, and I already feel a strong connection
with you. How do you feel about this?”
How would I react?
First off, such a woman immediately scores beaucoup points for
being so open and direct. I can’t help but be impressed. At the very least, I know she has some courage, and courage
is one of my highest values. This tells me we already have something in common.
If I honestly felt the same
as she did, I’d tell her so. Then we’d be off and running to create something potentially wonderful together…
in a matter of minutes.
If I didn’t share her feelings, I’d be honest with her about that as well. But I’d tell her how I felt in a compassionate and gentle way. If I knew someone else that I thought would be a more compatible fit for her, and if it seemed appropriate under the
circumstances, I might even introduce them to each other.
Another possibility is that I’m not sure how I feel. Maybe
I just don’t know her that well yet. Or perhaps it’s just bad timing for me. In that case I’d probably open
a dialogue to explore further possibilities. Maybe it leads somewhere; maybe it doesn’t.
Regardless of how I felt though, I’d never ever throw
it back in her face. Trying to humiliate or embarrass her for opening up like that would be incredibly cruel. If I can’t bring myself to harm animals or insects,
I’m certainly not going to intentionally hurt human beings. Behaving like that would violate my own principles, especially the principles of Love and Oneness.
How would you respond if someone openly shared their feelings
toward you and asked if you felt the same? Would you find this kind of openness as refreshing as I do?
Connect Like a Real Human Being, Not a Player
I’ll readily admit that I’m not particularly well-versed
in the culture of playing manipulative social games. I simply have no stomach for it, so I prefer to opt out by exclaiming,
Even when a woman is very flirtatious with me, I have a hard
time reading her intentions. I don’t know if she’s genuinely interested, if she’s baiting me into giving her more attention, or if it’s just her natural, playful style. It could also be something else entirely.
Flirting can certainly be fun, and I do enjoy it on occasion,
but only as a game to be played rather than as a good way to develop a real connection with someone.
My experience is that directness is almost always well-received.
Sometimes people are a little surprised at first, simply because it’s so rare, but they also find it refreshing. They
may pause for a moment to process what you say, but then the conversation quickly moves forward in a delightful way. Think
of directness as a conversational awareness boost.
Once you enjoy a taste of directness in your relationships,
it’s hard to settle for anything less.
When I began writing about polyamory and open relationships a few weeks ago, I started getting a lot
more email, especially from women.
Some of those emails were very flirtatious; however, I’m
unable to read anything into them. For any individual woman, I can’t tell if she’s just being friendly and playful,
if she’s trying to open a dialog because she’s interested in becoming friends or playmates, if she’s baiting
and teasing me, or if she’s just probing me to see how I react. With face-to-face interactions where I can read body
language and tone of voice, I have a much better shot of getting an accurate read, but with a plain email from someone I may
not know that well… there’s just no way.
I’m usually at a social disadvantage in such situations
because people who contact me almost always know vastly more about me than I know about them, due to the enormous quantity
of personal information I’ve shared online. Even so, I still love getting to know new people, so I’m not bothered
at all when people initiate contact with me and suggest that we might become good friends.
Most of the friendships I enjoy today were initiated by other
people. They got to know me from my online presence, saw that we had a lot in common, and reached out to connect with me.
If they hadn’t done this, I might never have known of their existence, and I’d have been denied the gift of their
Even my relationship with Erin only happened because she initiated
contact with me. What if she held back and talked herself out of the idea?
Ironically, potential friends often hesitate to initiate contact
with me because they don’t want me to think of them as a fan, a bother, or something along those lines. Several friends
have told me this after the fact.
They initially put me on a social pedestal because they figured
I already had a ridiculous number of options for friends and that they had no chance of getting through. It’s true that
I get a high volume of daily communication from people, but the vast majority of it is basic feedback on my articles and podcasts.
Also, many people would love to network with me professionally,
but personally we’re just not very compatible. So the reality is that I’ve never been overwhelmed by people wanting
to initiate close personal relationships with me. I suspect that many potential friends disqualify themselves in advance,
perhaps for the wrong reasons.
If someone flirts with me online but never directly shares any
particular intent, I don’t assume they have a deeper intent. I just can’t guess at that sort of thing, so I don’t
even try. At best I may flirtatiously play back at her, but I can’t offer more than that unless she expresses a genuine interest, especially if I’ve never met her in person.
Flirting can be fun, but I don’t find it much of an opener
for a relationship. To initiate a real relationship, it’s better to favor straightforward,
honest, attentive communication. Share your thoughts, feelings, and desires openly and honestly.
See if there exists the potential for a fun, compatible match. If there’s no match, it’s not a rejection. It’s
nobody’s fault. It just means you should both try elsewhere. That’s all.
You might be concerned that being so direct would kill the mystery
and romance at the beginning of a relationship. But the fun, mystery, and romance can still be present. In fact, I think you’ll
find that they’re enhanced and brought to a whole new level. Instead of wallowing in uncertainty and playing silly guessing
games, you’ll spend your time getting to know a real human being without the phony social mask. The reality is far more
exciting than any fantasy.
If I’m interested in getting to know a woman, I want to
spend as much time as I can with her one-on-one. I want to give her my full attention when we talk. I want us to establish
high trust from the get-go. I want to hear her tell me about her life, her dreams, and her struggles. I want to unmask the
amazing soulful being that she truly is. I want to share my true self with her as well, honestly and openly. Picking away
at an artificial fantasy shell can’t compare to the joys of sharing a unique, soulful connection with another human
If you want to cultivate deep, connected relationships, skip
the drama and start things off the right way — with openness, honesty, and directness.
You’ll be amazed a just how refreshing it is.
I know this isn’t how TV characters behave, but it is
how conscious human beings relate to each other.
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Honesty and Its Truths in Female Relationships
The different facets of honesty in women's relationships is
tackled in this article with the hopes of enlightening the essence of a word so mistakenly given meaning to.
If you ask me whether I would want honesty, I'd reply with:
Let me see...you want the truth, the whole truth or nothing but the truth?
From a biologically and chronologically young viewpoint
be it courtship, engagement or marriage should be based on trust. But some people grow old, strong, wise and humble enough
to realize that trust is needed only during the start of a relationship.
In countries where separation from a spouse
is still shunned at any lie caused by a third party in that legal and supposed to be till-death-do-us-part-relationship would
have to be ignored. Not forgiven. Certainly cannot be forgotten but ignored. Just ignored. When a third party is involved
thoughts like, "It was just a fling." would play a noble role not only to save the marriage but spare the dignity of the aggrieved
spouse and that of the unfortunate children whose only
misfortune is to be dealt with an irresponsible parent.
"It's different because you are the wife
and you are the one he married. That person who can only
afford a fling with a married man can never come close to your stature when it comes to justice in the eyes of the law, respect
in the eyes of society and blessings in the eyes of God."
Keep the thoughts above to your heart and
memorize it if you want. It's needed. To keep the marriage.
To preserve the only environment any child has a right to grow up in. I believe the failure of a marriage or any relationship
almost always depends on the aggrieved party. That aggrieved soul can always call the valid shots of whether to end or continue
any relationship. If the marriage ends no one can blame the aggrieved wife.
If she continues the marriage, society and her children have something to side with and look up to. In this instance sacrifice
of one's pride may entirely get quietly noticed but it would certainly give a woman more dignity.
Is honesty right for you? It is. In its
many forms in your relationships.
Honesty during courtship is a stupid thing
to forgo. With all the things going on in a single woman's
life the presence of the threat of other interested and honest to goodness men just hovering around the corner bids any suitor
to put his best foot forward. In this getting to know stage it is imperative to tell and show the truth.
However, honesty in a marriage is something
else. It's more of a bitter pill the aggrieved spouse should take. Honesty in a marriage can involve the husband going around
the truth. Funny and ironic as it seems not telling the truth and even not telling anything at all is needed to keep that
special relationship both tried so hard to build on honesty safe and free from pain.
But honesty's real meaning is often not deemed light upon by the very person who should know it. The
woman herself. The bitter truth about honesty's real meaning cannot be entirely triumphed
upon by just being a brave soul. Bravery, so it is said, is not the absence of fear but the knowledge that something else
is greater than fear. The jagged edge of the truth, the very face of honesty, can only be
conquered by a woman who knows what she is, who she is and what she is most capable of. She knows her worth. She knows her
level. Sometimes she tends to forget or even be innocent about it but in the end, the truth, the honest
truth of a woman's fighting soul almost always shines through.
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