Honesty can solve a whole lot of problems.
I always thought I was a very honest person: I never told lies or cheated or tried to steal anything, so I was good.
But here’s the thing: I still very much care what other people think about me, and sometimes dishonesty creeps in as I fail to admit my shortcomings and mistakes, both to myself and to others. Admitting what I do wrong has been my biggest struggle with honesty. I want to be an awesome person that doesn’t make many mistakes. But I am not: I yell at my kids, I pick my nose, I get discouraged, I waste time, and I support political candidates without knowing much about them.
My lies are plentiful: I want to hide things from the building inspector. I pretend that I heard someone speaking when I wasn’t paying attention at all. I tell a friend I’m doing fine and everything is great when it really isn’t. When I don’t know something, I fabricate information. And at the store, when my kid breaks the top off a bottle of soap, I stick it on a random shelf and walk away.
Some of these may be trivial. But when dishonesty starts to creep up in small ways, it becomes a lazy way to deal with hard things. Dishonesty just pretends that those hard things don’t exist.
But honesty is when I have to face life as it actually is, giving up my idealized version of reality.
So how can honesty solve life’s problems if it seemingly makes life harder? Because denying the truth doesn’t make the truth go away, and when I face the truth, then I free myself.
Honesty can help solve depression.
Almost all depressing thoughts are lies.
LIES: I am not worth anything. No one likes me. Life is too hard. I can’t do this anymore.
TRUTH: I am worthwhile. Lots of people like me. Life isn’t too hard (what does that even mean, anyway?). I can do it, and I will do it.
Honesty can solve anxiety.
Anxious thoughts are lies.
LIES: This will never go away. People are looking at me and judging me. Bad things are always happening everywhere. I’m stuck here forever.
TRUTH: Everything does go away. People are often too caught up in themselves to notice others very much. Good things happen just as much as bad things.
Honesty can solve parenting difficulties.
I lie so often to my children, and they respond a lot better if I just tell them the truth.
LIES: Clean your room or else. I will take that away in five seconds. If you do not do better, I will punish you. You are so difficult. Because I said so and that’s all that matters.
TRUTH: I love you. I’m proud of you. This is really hard for me right now. I don’t want to yell. I make a lot of mistakes. The house is messy. I don’t want to clean it alone.
Honesty can solve problems at school or at work.
LIES: I don’t have any questions. I understand everything. Sure, I can do that. I haven’t done anything wrong.
TRUTH: I have so many questions. I don’t understand what is happening. I’m not sure I can do that, but I can try. I messed up and I will try to make it better.
And honesty can help solve everything else.
Do you have a job interview? Just be completely honest and then there is no reason to be nervous.
Did you make a big mistake that’s keeping you up at night? Just admit what you did wrong and ask for help.
Do you have unpopular opinions? Don’t make excuses. Stand up for what you believe is right.
Are you angry with someone for some reason? Talk with them and see if you can calmly work it out.
Want to improve your relationships? Stop gossipping, tell the truth about others, and tell the truth about yourself. Be vulnerable.
There are a few truths that can get you through extremely difficult times:
- First, that you are always worth something.
- Second, that everyone, including you, makes mistakes.
- Third, that so much of life, including mistakes, is temporary.
When you face truth, you can find peace by releasing the expectation of perfection and finding true meaning in life as it actually is.