Tell Me a Truth: Cultivating honesty has its benefits
Recently, I’ve been working on being more honest in my daily life. Why? Because it feels really good. Now don’t get the wrong idea… I’m not a liar. But I’ve realized that there is a
certain amount of fancy footwork going on and I’ve been “economical with the truth” when sharing my thoughts with the people in my life.
Diplomacy can be a great strength when dealing with others and I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with being gentle and kind when delivering the truth. There is something compassionate about couching things in a certain way in order to spare someone’s feelings. Equally, however, white lies can deteriorate your sense of self as well as your connection with others.
Let’s look at a small example. I’m going through a hard time. A friend asks me how I’m doing and I respond with “great” when I’m really feeling blue. How does this benefit me? It saves face (I don’t have to admit that I’m having a hard time) and it helps me avoid my feelings in the moment. How does this hurt me? It keeps me closed off from a person who might be able to help me feel better and it contributes to my denial of certain feelings, allowing them to hide out and possibly get worse.
Obviously, as a life coach, I tend to look for the silver lining in every experience. I’m all about helping people optimize their lives. So, I think that actively cultivating honesty can have a positive impact on one’s health and wellbeing. Am I recommending that you run right out and abandon your filters? Of course not. Am I implying that you should tell your mother-in-law what you REALLY think about her new dress? I wouldn’t endanger your life like that. But there are LOTS of ways that you can incorporate honesty into your daily life which won’t damage your relationships or get you kicked out of your favorite restaurant. Let’s investigate a few.
For a start, you can look at the level of honesty within your own mind. Let me share an example from my life. I have been very tired and run down lately. Instead of admitting that to myself, I’ve been pounding the coffee and pushing myself even harder. Result? I have a neck issue and I haven’t been able to sleep through the night for a week. I know this behavior isn’t healthy for me, but I keep telling myself things like “I have to do this right now; I don’t need that much sleep; I can live on coffee and protein shakes; I have to do this or I’ll be letting everyone down.” etc. This is an example of when honesty really is the best policy. My health and happiness are being negatively affected by my own refusal to admit what is true for me right now: I’m tired and run down.
When I am honest with myself, I am able to assess a given situation based on the facts. As a result, I have more clarity to make the changes necessary for a healthier and happier day-to-day. It’s that simple. Really. It’s not a gimmick. Try it. You might be surprised at what a big difference a little bit of truth can make.
Want to practice being honest with someone else? Here’s a fun game that you can play with a trusted loved one or friend. It’s called “Tell me a truth.” To play, you do just that-take turns telling each other something that is true for you in that moment. I practice this regularly with my friend (the coach who invented it!) and we have a blast. We text honest moments throughout the week and this ritual has helped me to get more in touch with what is true for me in any given moment and thus, helps me live more honestly.
Here’s a sample exchange:
Friend: Tell me a truth!
Me: I think I did a bang up job writing my blog this month but I’m afraid to admit it because I don’t want to be overconfident.
Friend: Truth well told!
Me: Tell me a truth!
Friend: I’m worried about my doctor’s appointment tomorrow and I’m not talking about it with my mom because she’ll only make me feel worse.
Me: Truth well told!
You get the idea? The listener always replies with “Truth well told” and nothing else. Then there isn’t any judgment or advice-giving. It’s simply two people sharing their truth. It’s important to do this with someone trustworthy or the exercise won’t be beneficial. The subject matter needn’t be heavy. Maybe your truth of the moment is that you REALLY want an ice cream cone. It doesn’t matter how big or how small your truth is. As long as you tell it, you’ll feel the benefit. True story.