I regularly talk about the importance of being honest with ourselves. Because when we take the time (and proceed despite the discomfort) to acknowledge how we’re doing, what we’re feeling, and what is really going on inside our hearts, we can make wise, supportive decisions. We can take wise, supportive steps. We can meet our needs. We can ask others for what we need (instead of feeling resentful and acting in passive-aggressive ways).
What does honesty actually look like?
It starts with sitting with an emotion or a thought without trying to change it. It starts with letting whatever arises to actually arise.
I am sad. I am happy when I’m not with that person. I feel anxious when I think about going to work. I don’t like how I feel (or how I act) when I’m with that group of people. I don’t like how I am when I drink. I don’t think I want to do this anymore. I have not recovered from this pain. I am still grieving. I am not OK.
It can be scary to be honest, especially when there is tension and uncertainty and anxiety and shame. It’s of course much easier, in a way, to pretend that everything is fine, and good, and even happy (at least for a time).
But being honest is how we honor ourselves. It is how we build meaningful, truly satisfying lives. After all, truth provides a strong foundation. Lies do not.
In her thoughtful new book Heart, Sass & Soul: Journal Your Way to Inspiration and Happiness, British journalist Greta Solomon shares six “not-so-simple questions” that can provide us with some much-needed insight, if we’re willing to explore and listen to our responses:
- What are some signs and signals that you might be heading in the wrong direction?
- What do you use as a mask? For instance, maybe you’re drinking too much in social situations.
- What are the little anxieties you harbor in daily life that you don’t share with others?
- What or who would you most like to rid from your life, and why?
- What do you honestly feel you need to surrender to?
- What do you ultimately need to let go of?
If responding to the above questions feels like too much right now, don’t. Come back to the questions when you’re ready. Instead, simply check in with yourself throughout the day, and ask yourself: How am I feeling right now? or What’s on my mind? or What’s bothering me? or What am I experiencing?
And tell yourself the truth. It doesn’t have to be some big, revelatory truth. It can be small, or even tiny. It might be I’m tired. I’m a bit anxious about tomorrow. I’m upset with how I handled that situation.
At first, you can even set a timer for just 5 minutes, or 1 minute, and write whatever comes to mind. Write fast, so fast that your inner censor doesn’t have time to shut you down, and change your answer.
The more often you do this, the more comfortable you’ll get, and the more natural, it’ll become.
Give yourself the chance to honor yourself in this way. Give yourself the opportunity to grow and evolve and create the kinds of moments and days that you actually want to savor.
You are not a piece of glass. You are a tree with roots. You are strong enough to handle the truth within you.