People often make the mistake of expecting others to understand them without expressing what they feel. This is understandable because being honest about our feelings isn’t really an easy thing to do. We tend to skirt around telling the truth and, as a result, we begin having difficulties in expressing our emotions and intentions. To some degree, we even expect the other person to read our minds and, sometimes, even get angry when they fail to.
Trouble in communicating can lead to even more trouble in our relationships. When we expect to be understood without expressly saying what’s on our minds, we get disappointed. Because we failed to say something, we will resort to avoiding the issue. We can become distant, pretending nothing’s wrong when something is. When instances like this pile up, we get too encumbered by the burden that we carry alone. It will get frustrating, and when it does, we will end up being too emotional to explain everything– when we could have said everything calmly in the beginning.
We will not get into the whys of this behavior. Instead, we will get into how we can change it. There is value in honesty. Just see how many adages have been said and written about it. When we are honest, we are in control of the situation and our emotions. This will result in better communication and better relationships.
Here are some ways to practice honesty in life:
1. Be truthful to yourself.
Before even trying to be more honest with other people, we should practice being truthful to ourselves first. It’s right when people say that no one knows you better than yourself. So, take a step back and examine your emotions and intentions. What do you really feel? What do you want out of a conversation? Is there something you would like the other person to know?
These questions are great to understand why we feel what we feel. It’s very important to ask ourselves these to reflect on what is happening in our lives. By being truthful to ourselves, we will know what should be said, and what should be paid attention to.
2. Understand what makes you want to lie.
When we lie to others, it’s not really because it is our intention to betray or hurt them. More often than not, it’s because we think it’s the best way to avoid issues and arguments. The complicated thing about this is that lies tend to cause another lie. Your white lie will turn into an even bigger lie, and you do not really want that to happen. The same can be said about hiding truths or lying by omission.
What you need to do is understand why you lie in the first place and assess whether you are right in thinking it is the case. We have to remove our assumptions that people will be happier when lied to. If you put yourself in the other person’s shoes, you will know that they would rather be told the truth and be hurt, than have their trust betrayed.
3. Be yourself.
Now that you understand your intentions and the truth behind your lies, you have to begin owning up to who you really are. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but you have to admit that in the process of creating your web of lies, you have also developed people-pleasing behaviors. Most of the time, this is at the expense of unveiling your genuine personality. We adjust how we interact with people to allow the lies to fit in, so we end up being stuck in having to keep up an act.
If you just realized that you have been unintentionally doing this, it’s time to ask yourself, “Is this really who I want to be?” Sure, you can keep wearing the new personality that inevitably made, but are you comfortable enough to say that you’re being who you are? Like we said in #1, it’s hard to be honest when we’re not true to ourselves. There is nothing more beautiful than a person who has completely accepted who they are — flaws and all.
ALSO READ: 16 Ways to be Yourself
4. Own up to your mistakes.
Do you know how sometimes we catch kids lying about breaking the glass or losing their toys? It seems that some of us have not really outgrown our penchant for hiding our mistakes. The reason behind this may be a mix of factors, like having to face harsh punishments for minor errors. It’s understandable, but remember that there will always come a time that this behavior can no longer be tolerated. So, own up. Build an attitude of making up for your mistakes, rather than hiding them.
Remember that you cannot change a deeply rooted behavior overnight. If you ever fall off the wagon, choose to be kind to yourself instead. Accept that you made a mistake, and vow not to do it again.
5. Be tactful.
Someone once said, “Honesty without tact is cruelty.” More often than not, we hurt others with the truth because we said it the wrong way. This is why tact is important; this is why we need to think our words through. Ask yourself whether the words you choose are sensitive, accurate, and can be said from a place of love. You can always be right about what you say, but be wrong in how you say it. So think twice, maybe even three times before you tell the person a risky truth.
Honesty has its consequences, but it’s always better to err on the side of kindness. Be compassionate, rather than accusing. Be nice, but also be prepared to accept their reaction.
Learning to communicate honestly starts with erasing the notion that we will only hurt people with the truth. Once you have developed this attitude, we will be able to communicate directly and act honestly in our day-to-day lives. We will begin to say the truth with more confidence, knowing that we can say things that need to be said to people who matter.