Thursday, September 22, 2011

Honestly!

There is nothing that irritates the shit out of me more than being lied to. When I ask a question, especially a specific, direct one, I expect an honest answer. If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't ask. Believe me, I know that telling the truth can be really tricky. I have not always been perfectly honest. I've been known to exaggerate, bend the truth or omit things altogether. We've all been in situations where telling the truth seems absolutely unthinkable, the confrontation simply too much to bear. Confrontation used to terrify me- even small, silly things like calling the phone company. It's been one of my greatest learning curves, one that I still work on daily, to gracefully navigate confrontation and speak my truth.

Practicing doing so and becoming more confident has not necessarily made it any less complicated, though. Yogi Bhajan said about communication: "Let your words be straight, simple and with a smile," but it can be awfully difficult to find a way to say the things we need to say in a way that won't elicit this kind of a response: "But dear ones, do you see your words? They are so fucking ugly." It's graceful, simple directness that I've been working on lately. I think to myself, "How can I communicate this in a way that will, as Yogi Bhajan also suggested, not wreck today but create a better tomorrow?"

It helps to understand that we communicate in order to get our needs met. There's an acronym about communication that I love: WAIT! Why Am I Talking? It's useful to be able to identify what you are hoping to achieve in your communications in order to help get your needs met, and then be as direct as possible. The real challenge is that we have to be honest with ourselves first, and that requires enormous courage. Ever told someone (and yourself) that "it wasn't a big deal" but it really was and you just keep repeating that and brushing it off until you almost believe it? There is always something unsettled there, though, a lingering resentment towards the other person and ourselves for not allowing it to be the big deal it really was for us. We have to be brave enough to speak our truth and ask for what we need, and confident enough to believe that we deserve it.

We all know that telling the truth can be harrowing, but it can also be wonderful. Here is my case for honesty:
1. Hope to get your needs met. Do you know any psychics? I had an eerily accurate $5 palm reading once over a frozen yogurt shop in DC by a psychic named Miss Tina. She is extremely gifted. Other than that? Nope. Point being, you cannot ever hope to get your needs met unless you open your pretty mouth and ask. Set boundaries. Ask for what you're owed (because you deserve it!). Advocate for yourself. Otherwise, no one will know and you cannot blame them for it (except Miss Tina- she knows all).
2. Help the people you love. Help them help you by filling them in on what would support your happiness (if they're worth your time they'll want to know!). Help them become better and brighter by sharing your concerns or observations about them (with compassion and tact...remember, we're communicating for a better tomorrow). Good communicators make good lovers.
3. Destroy assumptions. You know what they say about assumptions? They make an ass out of you and me. Shine a light in the dark with your honest words and get rid of ambiguity and gray areas. So many problems in life arise because we have not communicated clearly. You don't know until you know.
4. Show some respect. Lying is disrespectful. Period. Yes yes yes, I've done it before. And I came out the other side seeing how badly it can hurt people, how it can destroy friendships and make an enormous, unnecessarily painful mess. You owe it to people to be honest, especially in matters of health and safety. Sometimes being honest hurts people, too, but it's better to hurt them now with the truth than put it off and hurt them later with the truth and months worth of lying. Grow up, grow a pair and get it over with.
5. Live free. Imagine how easy and free you can live in a life without lies! Imagine all the brain power you'll have freed up not having to keep track! You could finally learn to knit or play chess!

Honestly, we have to steel ourselves for the possibility that the outcomes of our honesty may be disappointing. Sometimes we state our needs and no one responds or we are flat out denied. Sometimes we share a concern with a friend and they respond defensively. Sometimes the people that we speak to do not actually hear us at all. Nonetheless, it is so completely, vitally important to speak truthfully, with compassion and grace and clarity and tact whenever possible. That last part can be hard but becomes easier with practice.

Love is impossible without trust and trust is impossible without honesty. Our honesty is the best thing we have to offer one another. Like most transformational journeys, the path of the impeccable word begins within. Honestly acknowledge what it is that you need and muster the courage to ask. Your voice deserves to be heard, honeylove. The world needs your honesty and the people who really love you want to hear it. I certainly do.

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