Definition of Honest: truthful; trustworthy; genuine; open
Soooo, are you an honest person?
Your response is likely, “Yes.” However, if we look deeper in our lives, we may find our response is not totally true. And if we are really honest with ourselves, we may find that our lack of honesty can lead to devastating results in our relationships.
This became clear to us on our recent trip to the Caribbean. We met and saw many people who seemed to have fabulous relationships. We also had numerous coaching sessions with people who were struggling, literally. Imagine the lunacy of this. Here were couples who had invested their valuable time and significant “jingle,” to go on a vacation to fight, criticize, and blame each other. It appeared to be a game of defensiveness and justification to prove their “rightness.”
Is that loving behaviour? Were they being honest with their partner about their thoughts and feelings? Or were they reacting based upon their dishonesty with themselves?
In our discussions with these people, they told us about things their partner did that “made” them angry and was responsible for their own disrespectful behaviour. Their partners were: negative, flirtatious or jealous, stingy or financially incompetent, blabbermouth or uncommunicative, uncaring, abusive, breaking agreements, crossing boundaries, etc.
In each case, it boiled down to a lack of honesty. They were not being honest with themselves in regard to their feelings about their partner’s behaviour, and they were not being honest with their partner to communicate at the time of the incident.
I understand how this happens – we’ve been there.
Example from the past:
I beat Carol up every morning. No, not physically. What I mean is; I get out of bed several hours before she does. Carol did not make the bed when she got up. It bothered me because it was not the “right” way. But I didn’t say anything. Carol would leave dirty dishes by the sink. That ticked me off. It was absolutely “wrong.” But I didn’t say anything. I’d come home late in the evening to find our sons’ toys scattered around the room. To me, that was totally inappropriate. I gritted my teeth but I didn’t say anything.
Carol would say, “Did I do something wrong?”
“Nope.” And then the deafening quiet.
I was being totally dishonest with myself and Carol. And the more I looked for things that were, in my mind, “non-caring, inappropriate, and sloppy,” the more of them I saw. As time went on, I found fault in everything she did, or didn’t do. It got to the point that, when I saw her face, anger started building in me. I was certain Carol was intentionally doing these things to bug me.
The neurotic voice in my head was saying the most damaging, ludicrous, and irrational statement around, “If she loved me, she should know how I feel.”
Would I talk to Carol about these behaviours and share my feelings honestly and openly? Did I understand Carol’s beliefs and feelings about the things she was doing? Did I understand the difficulties Carol was experiencing in her roles around the home and farm? Did I understand how she saw our relationship?
A big “No” to all of these questions. I had no idea what was going on for her.
What did I do? I did spiteful things to get her back – nasty, awful things like calling her names, being late for meals, being cold and aloof, avoiding physical contact, and much worse.
We were very near divorce before we finally learned to be honest and accountable to ourselves and each other. Rebuilding the relationship wasn’t easy but it was definitely worthwhile.
I’m curious. Does any of this hit close to home for you?
This game can happen with a life-partner, family, friends, or in business. If it occurs in one relationship, it likely occurs in your other relationships too.
Here’s the challenge for you, should you choose to accept it. Be brutally, yet respectfully honest with yourself and others.
Application of the following steps will help you repair damaged relationships and greatly enhance healthy ones.
• Become consciously and acutely aware of your feelings when a situation occurs. The feelings may be anything from love, joy, and euphoria to fear, hostility, and depression. It doesn’t matter what you call it, just notice them.
• Dissociate from yourself. Be an unattached observer of your thoughts and feelings, and say, “That’s interesting.” This stimulates a state of curiosity which hastens learning and growth.
• Ask yourself, “Why have I chosen to feel this way?” The fact is: no one else can make you think or feel anything. It is always your choice.
• Evaluate your beliefs. Are there memories or voices from the past which are filtering or painting your thoughts and feelings?
• Ask yourself, “Is this what I want to feel?” If yes, enjoy it. If no, choose a better feeling. It may be difficult to go from a feeling of depression to euphoria in one leap. However you can easily choose a feeling that offers some relief. And if you continue this, the euphoria is eventually possible.
• Communicate honestly and respectfully. Speak accountably, “When this happens, I feel ….” This separates the action from the person, and separates the person from the feeling. This is not an attack on the other person; it is a sharing of information, which is neutral.
• With this honesty, the other person can choose to change their behaviour, honestly share their beliefs and feelings, or do nothing. What they choose to do is not your responsibility or in your control.
Use these steps immediately when the situation occurs. You know what procrastination does.
Can you be an honest person in all ways, all days?
Clearly you can, if you so choose. Honesty will ensure your vacations, and every day between, are as peaceful and comfy as a warm sea breeze.
As they say in Tortola, “Wind at your back, mon!”