Can everybody handle honesty?

Image credits: Pablo Heimplatz / Unsplash

With time I’ve come to appreciate two traits in people, communication, and honesty. There are among the two most important aspects I look for in any relationship.

Both are intertwined, as honesty supports good communication and vice versa. It’s the basis for great and long lasting relationships. It’s like the oil that makes everything work between humans.

Every time I hear someone talking about a relationship problem I always ask the same, have you talked about it?

People don’t talk enough. They say they speak, they say the converse about issues, but ego, fear, greed or anger prevent us from adequately communicating how we feel.

The fact remains that when you ask people, they always tell you they talk and that they value honesty above all else.

“Why didn’t he say this before? If only he had been honest, things would have been much simpler!”

Honesty is hard because it’s a two-step process. You first need to look inwards and understand why we do what we do; why we feel like we feel. This requires powerful introspection powers. Few people devote time to this practice. It’s seen by many as superfluous, “I know why I did this!”.

The first step towards honesty happens at this level. Sometimes we see things about us that we don’t like. That’s the point where we have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge the fact. I’ve always thought that hiding something doesn’t make it disappear. It will only cover the problem and delays the inevitable.

If accepting something to yourself is already hard, sharing it with others, is terrifying.

So I tend to tackle such problems head first. Life is too short to spend time beating around the bush. If I did something wrong, I’d try to fix it. No point in delaying it or ignoring it. It festers.

Once you’ve reached this point, then it’s time, to be honest with the outside world. If accepting something to yourself is already hard, sharing it with others, is terrifying. It requires a big deal of bravery, to be honest with others.

Silence is the worse enemy of a relationship. It’s what kills, it’s what poisons and ends up destroying you from the inside.

Being honest with others is also a very intricate and delicate business. It requires a powerful understanding of how much the other party can take. Nevertheless, one thing is blunting the edge, and another thing is remaining silent.

Silence is the worse enemy of a relationship. It’s what kills, it’s what poisons and ends up destroying you from the inside. I don’t believe in silence, I believe in honesty. I believe in telling the truth so that both sides can openly face it.

What I’ve found out is that, despite many people claiming they love honest people, few are capable of taking it in. It’s a brutal process. It forces both sides to acknowledge something that might be uncomfortable or ugly. You need to build up the strength to take it. Some people panic, badly.

It’s always easier to remain silent and wait for it to go away.

When confronted with an irrefutable fact, they’ll either ran away from it, ignore it or fight the truth in it. These are the same people that claim they’re honest, that they like honesty. It keeps baffling me.

It’s always easier to remain silent and wait for it to go away. That’s what most people do. “It will fix itself,” “It will go away eventually,” they say. That approach rarely fixes things. Rarely brings both parties to an understanding.

Now, I believe the root of all the problems comes down to how well you know yourself. When I’m honest with someone, it doesn’t come out of anywhere. I’ve been meditating, thinking about how I feel and letting myself accept the truth. Sometimes it’s painful. It involves reassessing my views of the world, my mental models. But once there, and only when I’m comfortable with it, I’ll share it.

Many people can’t go beyond that step. They can’t acknowledge certain things to themselves; it would wreck their mental models. And so, to maintain the image they’ve built of themselves, they will remain silent. They will poison their mind and heart and that of those that are also involved.

When someone isn’t entirely honest, I always fell like they’re robbing me. They’re stealing me the opportunity to understand, to fix it, to make it better.

The worse part of this is that often, the person involved won’t even be conscious of this process. Our brain smells pain, conflict, suffering and it will just skip it. It won’t be registered anywhere. The outcome is that, in their mind, they’re honest. They tell the truth, they treat people fairly and try not to hurt them.

I take silence as an insult. When someone isn’t entirely honest, I always feel like they’re robbing me. They’re stealing me the opportunity to understand, to fix it, to make it better. It’s not their call to assess if I can take it or not. I always treat people with respect, and I expect others to treat me accordingly. If you deprive me of the chance at understanding, while you might have the best of intentions, you’re deceiving me.

In the end, this silence, this ignoring the truth, not facing reality, running away, only creates suffering. Long ago I decided that I would rather live in my coherent world than build a fantasy world in which I would get trapped.

So if you’re not honest with yourself, maybe it’s time to let go and acknowledge you’re human. If you’re not honest with others, analyze why it is. Are you scared of having to reassess your world? Are you afraid of hurting the other person? Do you think they can’t take it? People are stronger than we think. Give them a chance, treat them like adults, for a change.

Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at Press42.com, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.