You know, there’s nothing you can do about your public image. It is what it is. I just try to do things honestly. I guess honesty is what you would call subjective: if you feel good about what you’re doing, yourself, you figure you’re doing the right thing. Christopher Walken
Are you unapologetically, unashamedly yourself 100% of the time? Is it even necessary?
We all play different roles, wearing individual masks to suit each one – parent, sibling, colleague, friend etc. These masks collectively add up to the persona we present to the world.
If appropriately developed, our persona protects us and helps us to be effective in the various situations we find ourselves in. Problems arise, however, when we become over-identified with an aspect of our persona, for example feeling a need to be the perfect child and conform to unrealistic expectations in order to win the approval of our parents.
Parents who don’t validate their children for who they are stifle their child’s capacity for spontaneous expression. At worst, the defensive wall built by the child to feel safe can result in a personality disorder. At the very least, the child hides their real self within a protective shield of denial. If you swathe yourself too much in denial you run the risk of losing all sense of your real self.
How many ‘adults’ today, I wonder, are rejected children in grown-up’s bodies, afraid to own their feelings and intuitions, inhabiting illusory existences that leave them feeling empty and purposeless? I’ve been that person, and I know of others still imprisoned in this way. Can you honestly say that this state of being doesn’t ring remotely true for you?
We shroud ourselves in denial to make our reality more bearable, using it as a coping strategy. But denial only masks the truth: if I say X is true, then I don’t have to face up to Y. Y, however, still exists, no matter how much I pretend it doesn’t.
Being in denial doesn’t only shackle you; it affects the way you are with people. A friend of mine recently ended a relationship with a man who was blind to the reality of their situation. For months they had been sniping at each other, each trying to get one over on the other. When she finally decided to confront the problem, he point blank refused to acknowledge that there was anything wrong. My friend tried hard to communicate honestly with her ex but he insisted that their relationship was fine, when the actions of both of them so clearly said otherwise.
What are people so afraid of when it comes to acknowledging truth/reality? That they won’t be able to cope with it? For me, remaining in ignorance is a far worse fate. If you can’t be honest, you’re living as a false self; this makes your life an ego-trip to hell. Dishonesty and denial are ultimately life-denying.
Deciding to undertake a fearlessly honest evaluation of your past helps you to make peace with it and clear any unfinished business that is holding you back. Depending on what is lurking back there, this is best approached with professional help.
Then discover and act on your passions – even if they don’t conform to what your family and friends are used to seeing from you. Why smother your essence to fit in, especially if toeing the line doesn’t bring you contentment? Prove to yourself Danielle Pierre’s assertion that: The need to prove who you are will vanish once you know who you are.
Cultivating honesty within yourself, knowing who you are and what you want, develops your character and improves your life.
Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity. Zig Ziglar
Honestly? You owe it to yourself.
3 thoughts on “Essential Principles, Practices and panaceas, A – Z: Honesty”
I have to agree with you on practically everything you say! I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is completely honest about themselves or their lives.
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Thanks for your comment, Garth. I think it’s so important to develop the capacity to be honest with yourself. Living a lie your whole life must be deeply unsatisfying.