Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reflections on Core Values: Day 14 Honesty

I value honesty.  

Honesty, toward myself and others, has always been important to me. I have always tried to conduct my life from this principle or value. 

However, I have learned that not everyone shares my desire.  I have learned, mostly the hard way, that people do not want to have their delusions about themselves or their lives challenged.  I have also learned that people often use lies to shape the impression they give to the world.  They hide behind masks of “niceness”, while inside lurks a serpent waiting to pounce and destroy. My naivety has on several occasions caused me great emotional harm.

Always when I look back on these events in my life I wonder what is it about truth that people fear?  Is the falsehood of the mask really that important to their self-worth?  And what emotional need do they feed with their falsehood?

When I evaluate myself and my life I am often brutally honest, more so when it comes to those things I wish I were better at. 

Lately however I have been learning to also honestly asses my strengths and virtues.  This change has led me down a new path called self-appreciation.  To be truthful, at first this scared me!  What if in the process of accepting and validating I become vain or heaven forbid, narcissistic?  It was only with much thought and deliberation and contemplation that I came to the conclusion that affirming my strengths gives me a platform from which to address my weakness.  In the past I was far too busy deriding myself and putting myself down to have the energy to do anything about it.  I was my own whipping boy keeping myself down, subjugated to feelings of guilt and inferiority.

Now that I have finally faced the truth about my strengths, I have not only the will, but also the energy to address my weaknesses.  Rather than making me become selfish or self-centered, I have begun the process of changing myself so that I can share a stronger, more healed, more compassionate person with others.  I am more giving simply because I am no longer “needing” outside validation to feel comfortable with who I am.  This comfort level, allows me to more fully connect with that which I want to share with others.

Yet, even as I struggle to be as honest with myself and those in my life, as I can, I have to acknowledge that honesty, as a core value is hard to practice.  I fear that instead of honesty most people “impression manage”.  And even I have fallen into the trap on occasion of pretending to be “alright” when in fact I am far from it. 

There is a falseness to pretending that everything is alright when indeed it is not.  The consequence is that I come away feeling that not only have I been untrue to myself, but also I have not given the other person an honest opportunity to rise to the occasion of supporting me, and so I have also diminished them. It is a falseness to subjugate real emotions so as not to “disturb” others.  Maybe I have on those occasions robbed the other person of an opportunity to feel good about being able to be there for me? I am learning that many people feel good when placed in the position of being able to help.

Where did I learn this behaviour?  What is it that has happened to me that has made me think it necessary to betray my own feelings, to sacrifice my truth on the altar of “not disturbing others”?  I am struggling to change this, or at the very least to be more open to those closest to me.

Yet even this type falsehood, for the most part, does not cause great harm. It may lead to missed opportunities of really connecting with others.  I believe that facing this kind of vulnerability allows us to get closer to others, but fear of rejection keeps us private, keeping our truths unshared. 

What concerns me more as I ponder this concept of honesty is the deliberate misconstruing that is a tool used by the unscrupulous to gain advantage.  Over the course of my life I have experienced some grave injustices perpetrated by people who deliberately use dishonesty to gain power in relationships. 

  • There is the falseness, where a person presents a pretend personality most likely to get them what they want.
  • There is the duplicity of pretending to be nice to get close and gather “dirt” on others.
  • There is the betrayal, where confidences are deliberately sabotaged, twisted and manipulated to harm others.

All of these actions thwart the principles of honesty.

I have been learning there is a name for these kinds of people; they are called “Character Disturbed”.  How come no one ever told me about them?   Why have I had to learn the hard way, through the hard knocks of life that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing amongst us?

I understand that honesty is a hard value to live by. Honesty requires us to be real, in essence to walk about emotionally naked.  “Here I am, this is me, warts and all.” 

  • Honesty is what allows us to make the closest kind of connections.
  • Honesty also allows us to encounter our greatest betrayals.

The question for me becomes this:  “how can I be honest on this deep level and remain safe from those who practice to deceive?”

  • Can I become better at spotting the manipulators and liars?
  • Can I protect myself from the unscrupulous?
  • Can I be who I really am without giving away my own personal power?

Renate Dundys Marrello
2016 - 01 - 30

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