Can you even imagine being 100% honest ALL THE TIME?
It’s been reported that 93% of Americans surveyed admit to lying on a regular basis.
And yes, I lie, too.
I lie about why I’m late picking my kids up from school; or why I haven’t returned phone calls from someone I really don’t want to talk to; or what I think of a friend’s unflattering new haircut; or why I’ve not gotten my cat’s shots updated in two years—I’VE BEEN REALLY SELF-ABSORBED BUSY, DAMMIT!
DON’T JUDGE (you know you do it, too)
Now picture yourself NEVER telling any lies at all—no white lies; no half truths; no sparing someone’s feelings; no little fibs to make yourself look better—or less bad.
This is the premise behind Radical Honesty. No lies. Ever.
Most of the time, we don’t lie to deceive others so much as we do it out of fear that we will lose something…be it love or respect or status or control or any number of other things we simply DON’T want to lose.
Of course, sometimes we DO lie specifically to deceive but it still, oftentimes, comes back to preserving or stopping the loss something important to us.
So. Could you stop lying, say, right now?
Every time I think about pursuing a life of Radical Honesty, I respond like a junkie—it’s going to be hard. And unpleasant. I’ll quit tomorrow.
I know for me, one of the hardest things about Radical Honesty would involve being honest about letting people know how I feel about something they have done or said that has upset me, or offended me or just plain pissed me off.
Women are socialized to be nice, to not rock the boat too much and to generally strive for harmony; being liked by others is most important.
Those things do not mesh well with being radically honest and thus, women tend to not let others know what they’re really thinking or feeling.
Instead we act angry or behave passive-aggressively but when the person with whom we are upset asks us if there is a problem and we often respond with faux innocence and perhaps a little shock.
“What? Nooooo! I’m not mad at you” except they really are and frequently, everyone else knows why EXCEPT the person they are upset with.
This is a generalization and of course, every situation will vary to a certain degree but this is classic female social behavior. Instead of confronting the source of our ire, we claim everything is fine while we seethe, brew and talk about the situation with everyone BUT that person.
Why? Because we are not raised to be honest. We’re raised to be nice. We’re not comfortable saying “Hey, I resent that” or “I think you’re wrong” or “You hurt my feelings” or any other expression that isn’t “nice” because being “not nice” = being potentially “not liked”.
I know there times, nearly every day of my life, that I’d like to call someone on something that they’ve done or said but I don’t. I don’t want to provoke anyone. I don’t want them to do what I would fully expect them to do which is listen to what I have to say and then go and tell everyone I’m a bitch and organize some kind of ridiculous campaign against me because I’ve broken the cardinal rule of being female and was honest instead of nice. It happened in 7th grade when I was honest about something and insofar as I can tell, things haven’t changed much. We women still act a lot like 7th graders.
But ohhh if we COULD be honest without fear of loss or retribution… Imagine how freeing it would be to say what you feel and mean what you say. Yes, people’s feelings will sometimes be hurt. And sometimes people will be shocked or angry but honestly, I think I’d rather deal with the truth and all that comes with it, then deal with the landmines and bullshit that come with untruths any day. Can someone REALLY fault someone else for being truthful?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say men are more honest than women but I do think men are much more free to be honest with each other and if bad feelings result, it’s usually resolved quickly and they move on.
Does this mean men never lie? No, of course not. *coughtigerwoodscough* *coughgeorgewbushcough* But they’re not socialized to choose harmony over honesty and I do envy that.
So…I’m still pondering Radical Honesty as a way of life—but something tells me I would have to preface EVERY conversation with a reminder that I’m no longer pulling any punches because the idea of hurting someone’s feelings is extremely disturbing to me and I would want them to understand before I say anything that it’s not my intention, but rather a potential side effect of the NEW! ME!
What do you think? Is Radical Honesty something you would every consider?
Anyone up for a Radical Honesty challenge?
NOTE: I will NOT be attending any Radical Honesty seminars or what have you, because, honestly, I hate stuff like that.