Monday, February 15, 2010

What Would “Honest Abe” Do?

By Amy Phillips-Gary

We've all heard the stories about honesty and two of our best-known U.S. Presidents, whom we happen to celebrating on this cold and snowy holiday.

While the tale of young George Washington chopping down a cherry tree and then finding the courage to admit the deed to his father may have been an invention, there are plenty of documented examples of the honesty displayed by both Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

“Resolve to be honest at all events...” Lincoln reportedly advised his audience during a speech early his career.

But can you truly be completely honest all of the time?

After all, aren't there occasions in which honesty isn't necessarily the “best” policy?

For instance, when someone you care about asks you the ill-fated question, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” How do you answer if, indeed, the clothing doesn't seem to fit in a flattering manner?

There are plenty of times when many of us fib or tell a “white lie” because it seems to be the nicer, kinder thing to do. Of course, you don't want to make your partner feel worse about his or her body size.

Other times, we aren't completely honest because we don't feel comfortable speaking the whole truth (or even a portion of it). We may have become accustomed to not making waves in our relationships.

Perhaps on some level, we believe that the people close to us will dislike us, stop loving us or even leave if we really speak up about what's on our minds.

This doesn't always happen consciously.

Many times, we've been taught to shut down our truth-speaking inner voices. We may have been taught-- overtly or by example-- that to succeed or even survive in life it's better to ignore or even silence what we truly feel and think.

This can happen on more dramatic levels as well as those more subtle.

We've certainly heard about people who “wake up” one day and realize that the relationship, the job, the life that they have been living is absolutely NOT what they wanted after all.

People who experience this in themselves, their partners or other family members might even describe themselves as living a “lie.”

More often than not, this radical realization happens because the person has become practiced at silencing his or her inner truth-- knowingly or not. The recognition of this apparent “lie” may even come as a surprise to the person living it.

Find your truth

In each and every moment, keep the channels of communication open between you and you. You might have to re-learn how to listen to your inner self so that you can better know what's true for you.

When it comes down to it, only you can know what is true for you from your particular vantage point and experience in any situation.

It can be helpful to take the capital “T” out of truth and the capital “H” out of honesty.

You get to determine what resonates or feels most authentic to you in each moment. This can change and it will most definitely vary from person to person.

The key here is to know your own truth and remember that others in your life may have different experiences. Of course, there will be overlap and shared truths and there will also be disagreement and even conflicting truths.

You can avoid a lot of conflict, however, if you remember this subjectivity of truth. Take responsibility for being honest about your own thoughts, beliefs, values and actions.

You can speak your truth in ways that are both genuine and compassionate, authentic and connective.

Act from your truth

Action is the place where speaking unauthentically, even dishonestly, gets us into trouble.

It could be the young child who claims to have no idea how the box of cookies came to be emptied as cookie crumbs sprinkle his cheeks.

It may be the woman who always agrees with her partner, because that's what she's been taught to do, as she goes ahead and does the opposite thing anyway.

When we cut ourselves off from our own truth-- either consciously or unconsciously-- we often end up acting in ways that seem to make no sense to others (and ourselves). This can become confusing and will inevitably erode trust.

Today, find the clarity within yourself to touch in with your own truth more of the time.

Then, be courageous and speak honestly and authentically about how you feel and what you want. Come from a place of knowing that your truth is not necessarily the truth of another person; it is valuable and significant nonetheless.

Do your best to ensure that each step, every action you take, comes from a place of honesty, authenticity and your truth.

1 comment:

  1. Personal growth with courage and self confidence are foremost important for a successful future.