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No Lie: Honesty is Vital to Growth

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

I’ve been doing a lot of writing this week and in doing so, I’ve had to be honest about a few things. When it occurred to me that I needed to “come clean” about some past situations to purge my “emotional” house, there was initially a feeling of guilt and fear. You know, something that has been buried a very long time and now I’m dragging it out into the harsh light of day. This was scary and daunting.


A funny thing happened after the light was shining in and I there I was, standing in the room with nothing but the truth, I felt better. I felt relief, I felt unburdened. I wondered why I had hung on to that information for so long. So much time had passed and the sting of it was now so dull.


In looking back, it wasn’t about the secret that had been kept, it was about why I hadn’t been honest in the first place. All that stealth for such little things. They were in fact things that happened in my youth, and we all make mistakes in our youth. That’s where you should make your mistakes, so you learn and grow from them. However, honesty is such a frightening thing when you think you will lose something or someone, hurt someone, have others think differently of you or have to live with guilt. That’s why I had not come clean.


Being older and wiser now and feeling quite silly for holding on to guilt for things that were done decades ago got me thinking. If everyone got comfortable with being honest at a very young age, it could be so very powerful. Also, if at more advanced ages, people could let go of the secrets of the past, they could still experience growth as well through the process of letting go of the guilt, accepting forgiveness and moving forward with an optimism and lightness not weighed down by past transgressions.


I know that’s asking a lot and, in a time, where we can’t even trust that a photo posted to social media hasn’t been photoshopped to death, it’s a tall order. It’s shocking that people would readily accept that celebrities and other influencers all wear a size 2 and look camera-ready 24 hours a day! It’s also shocking that if a person posts an unfiltered, un-photoshopped image, others would be so rude in expressing their opinions on how they look! Rudeness is not honesty folks. Let’s not confuse that either.


People can and will be shocked at honesty. We just don’t experience it that much. What’s important is the way it’s delivered. You’re not teaching someone a lesson with honesty or punishing them with it either. Honesty should be an everyday occurrence delivered with compassion, sincerity and consideration of timing and tone.


Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to honesty.


Be Honest with Yourself


We tell ourselves many things. Some good, some bad. We should err on the side of positive reinforcement for our dreams, goals, and actions but sometimes honesty can save you from going too far down a path with negative results.


For example, I went to college to major in art. I Loved art and was going to be a very successful interior designer. A couple of semesters into it, while I still loved art and wanted to be involved in it, I was honest that I had more passion for art than actual talent. That was a hard truth to face. I kept at it a while but eventually transitioned to a new major that was a better fit for my natural talents and abilities which included writing. Writing utilizes many of the same principles required for the fine arts, creativity, passion, an eye for balance, and scale. Now, many (many) years later, as I immerse myself in writing and the joy it brings me, I know that being honest with myself was the right thing to do and opened the door to so many other possibilities and opportunities.


If something is not working for you or if something doesn’t feel fright, hiding it or suffering through it just makes it worse. They say the truth will set you free.


Be Honest with Your Loved Ones


These are the people you were either born to, got married to, have pledged our love to, or gave birth to. These are your people. If you can’t be honest with these people, get curious about that. These are the people that should show you more grace than any stranger you would meet on the street. If that’s not the case, there are deeper issues.


Honesty sets the record straight and removes all doubt or misunderstanding. It’s vital to communications and growth for all individuals involved. Dishonestly in families erodes relationships. When your foundation is shaky, the whole house is at risk.


Be Honest at School


Honesty in academia is very important. While it’s easy to see why cheating on a quiz or copying someone’s paper may save you time and embarrassment of a bad grade, what did you really learn? Also, what if you get caught? The stain of “cheating” will follow you and may even end up on your permanent record. Totally not worth it.


At school, be yourself. There’s no greater honesty than showing up as who you really are. Don’t try to change your look or your attitude to fit in with the crowd. The word authenticity gets thrown around a lot these days. Put simply, authenticity means you're true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you're under to act otherwise. You're honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Your values, ideals, and actions align.


Be Honest at Work


As academia transitions to career, the same principles apply with a more urgent tone. Being trust-worthy and honest in the workplace helps others grow through genuine feedback and gains you respect, and advancement through your integrity. We have all worked with that person that says they will do something and either they don’t or have someone else do it and take the credit for it. A person that works situations to their advantage by inflating their abilities or throws someone else under the bus. And we all know that person who lied on their resume and it was quickly apparent that they had no experience to back up their claims. Authenticity plays a huge role in the workplace as well and goes a long way in letting people know who you are and what makes you great. Honesty supports success.


Be Honest with Your Kids and Teach Them to be Honest


Along with the advice to be honest with your loved ones, being honest with your children is very important in raising good humans. As kids, we all told a little white lie here and there. What’s important is if we continued to do it or if we learned the reason why we shouldn’t and abandoned that tactic. If you catch your child in a lie, don’t come down on them like a ton of bricks. Calmly inform them that you know the truth and provide them with an opportunity to come clean. If they don’t, lay out the reasons that we should all be honest and the consequences when we are not. Have them think about what they should do in that moment in hopes that it informs them for what they should do the next time.


Parents should be the model of honesty for their children but let’s face it, sometimes we just are not. We’re all guilty of instructing them to tell someone we’re not home when we really are. They see us when we tell someone we’re busy and we’re really not. What message is that sending? Honesty is freakin’ hard because sometimes you just need to quietly ease out of a situation and a little bent truth is so easy to offer. It’s time to “parent up!” Have the uncomfortable conversation with someone when you don’t want to do something instead of lying to them in front of your kids. Tell your kids you’re really not into playing Legos right now because you just don’t want to, but you’ll be happy to play with them at another time. If you don’t want to play Legos, but you do anyway and sit there looking like you would rather be anywhere else on Earth, your kids see that.


Now, for one exclusion. If your kids are anything like my kid and can’t keep a secret to save his life, you can withhold information about a party or an outing until just before it happens. It’s not being dishonest; it’s maintaining your sanity and not having the surprise spoiled! LOL


Being honest is something that hopefully comes with maturity and an understanding that by leading from a place of truth, the outcomes of our pursuits will hold that much more value. It’s also just a good quality to have. Just think, if you’re always honest and have nothing to hide, you’ll feel confident in running for any public office some day! 😊


I hope you have the most fulling and prosperous week guided by the principles of honesty. It really is the best policy.


Been wrestling with a few issues from your past? Time to get honest? Book a call and let’s talk about it.


Take care and be well,

Courtney



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