I considered starting this off by saying that honesty plays a very important role in living a happy, positive and successful life but that just doesn’t justify the importance of honesty. Honesty is the cornerstone of all positive relationships and the number one aspect that defines our lives and the happiness and success that we can have. I know this because I used to be a big liar. I was so proficient at lying that it became a compulsive habit. I lied about nearly everything in my life trying to impress others, improve my relationships, and have more success. Funnily enough, none of those things came from lies but I only realised this when I forced myself to be honest again.
Honesty (and a lack of it) influences absolutely everything we do. But it is too easy to not be honest. Especially now, more than ever, with the ability to hide behind the curtain of social media and communicate via text message or email. It is too easy to be fake, too easy to lie to people, and too easy to embellish simply for “social reasons”.
We do this, even though the long-term results of lying are profoundly negative for our lives. The crux of the problem occurs in our usage of lies. We use them as a short-term solution, a crutch to bypass awkward social situations and (wishfully) propel ourselves into a better life. But we blind ourselves by focusing on these short-term immediate (and mostly superficial) gains. Rare is it for someone to observe the long-term negative effects of lying and even more rare is it for that person to be introspective enough to attribute their problems to their earlier lies. Instead we point the finger at something (or someone) else and never understand or accept the full impact lying has.
However, there is a way to break out of this habit. There is a method for awaking yourself from the subconscious action of lying and regaining control of your life by focusing on honesty. This method is called brutal honesty.
About brutal honesty
Brutal honesty is about being 100% honest at all times. It means always saying the whole truth (and nothing but the truth) even if the results make you feel uncomfortable. The idea is to say exactly what you are thinking without dressing it up or hiding it from others. That’s the brutal part.
It’s brutal on you (some people find it almost impossible to actually say what they are thinking) and it’s brutal on others (other people are usually not used to hearing such raw comments). But that’s the beauty of it. Brutal honesty is such a juxtaposition to what the rest of society does that it causes immediate responses and reflection.
Being brutally honest is a very hard thing to do. It requires a great deal of self-confidence, the ability to calmly observe your own thought processes, and a hell of a lot chutzpah!
But the rewards are worth it…
Three reasons to use brutal honesty
There are many benefits to being brutally honest but here are what I consider to be the top three reasons to use brutal honesty in life:
1. You get to be true to yourself
When people lie they are putting on an act, covering up their real identity and saying what they think other people want to hear. But there are many problems with this style of thinking.
The first problem is that none us are mind readers so we don’t actually know what other people want to hear. People have a hard enough time figuring out and controlling their own thoughts but somehow manage to believe it easy to understand what everyone else is thinking in every moment. We make wild assumptions on what people are thinking and then use that as the basis for forming lies and covering up our true identity. Crazy.
But if we focus on being honest; always speaking the truth about our own thoughts, feelings, and desires then we do not need to worry about performing the miracle of mind reading. We can just focus on living an honest life and reaping the rewards.
Remember, an honest person is comfortable with themselves and confident with their own thoughts. They always act in a way that is congruent to their internal drivers and they are respected for doing so. Even if other people do not like what you say they will at least appreciate your honesty and respond in kind. Honest people always receive genuine response in social interactions.
2. Honesty is win:win
What happens if you believe you know what someone else is thinking so you make up some lies (maybe to impress them) and then you find out that they actually dislike whatever it is you lied about? You went to all that trouble of hiding the real you and making something up to impress the person, only to have the complete opposite effect.
This happens all the time when we lie to others. When we try to make ourselves seem different, we create a fake version of ourselves that we *think* the other person will like. But if we’ve read the situation incorrectly (quite easy to do) then we end up in a worse position then we started. Not only is the target person not impressed with us but they have also made a negative judgement of us based entirely on a fake version of ourselves.
When we lie we create a lose:lose situation. If the lie is accepted and liked by others then we now must continue the deceit forevermore into the future which is tiring and emotionally draining. But if the lie is not accepted or liked by others then we incur a different loss. We discover that all our efforts (being fake and lying) were wasted and we’ve been judged on these falsified actions rather than being judged on who we actually are.
But when we are honest we create win:win situations. If we are honest, truthful and congruent at all times then we can accept the response we receive from others. If someone does not like our truth then that is fine. It is their prerogative and their opinion and they are entitled to it. But at least you have both been honest and you both know where you stand.
3. You gain more respect
Honesty is always respected. A known liar will be greeted with mistrust, held at arms-length, and never fully welcomed into any interpersonal interaction. But someone who is known for their honesty will be welcomed with open arms. These people are respected and trusted because you know exactly where you stand with them. There is no second-guessing, no game-playing, and no manoeuvring or backstabbing because you know you can trust what an honest person is saying.
And that level of trust gives an honest person more power. Their opinions will be held in higher esteem, their ideas will be given more credence, and their stories will captivate the attention of others. We look up to honest people and, as such, we give them a greater level of attention and respect.
Honesty has many benefits for our life, and brutal honesty is just taking normal honesty to the extremes. It’s a method that forces us to think about our action and it reminds us to live an honest life that is always true to ourselves.
Do you need a little bit of brutal honesty in your life?