Remember the Grimm tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes, where two fake tailors con an entire town into believing they’ve woven for the vain King a most beautiful suit made of cloth visible only to the wise, and invisible to fools? Of course nobody wants to admit they can’t see it, so they all praise the wonders of the fabric’s weave, texture, and depth of color as the monarch parades proudly down the main street in his new raiment. Only a single child’s “But the King is naked!” breaks the spell of the collective lie. That kid, with a guileless heart, simply reported what her senses told her, and the king’s false pride and the townspeople’s folly stood exposed (Pun intended.)
The equations underlying honesty are simple: the truth leads to trust; trust leads to intimacy; and intimacy leads to fulfillment. In light of the Emperor story, let me add another: the truth shall make you free, but not necessarily comfortable. Being honest is a challenge.
In his book Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life By Telling the Truth, Dr. Brad Blanton talks about three levels of telling the truth, each playing its own impactful role in establishing and maintaining quality relationships.
Level One: tell just the facts. Tell it like it is, neither under-or overstating. Even this takes practice, so start today. Notice how much you embellish or color your accounts of events. Try being totally honest with just factual things for an entire day. I think you’ll be surprised at how tough this is.
Level Two: tell how you feel about the facts. This is a little tougher than the plain facts because when we’re honest about our feelings we risk disapproval and / or rejection. Notice how much of your feeling-truth you hide everyday. The lessons at this level of honesty include both learning how to be tender (to get to the hurts beneath the anger, or to the love beneath the fears) and how to be tough (making appropriate boundaries and demanding respect). Try upping the ante of your feeling-sharing just a bit each day, and see the quality of your relationships move upscale.
Level Three: confession. This is the “baring-your—soul” phase of honesty, where you fess up to your shortcomings and admit your flaws. It is at once the most vulnerable and the most powerful stage of honesty. Often this level of sharing remains reserved for support groups, or therapy sessions, but why wait for those special settings?
Tickets to places or events often say “Admit One” on them. Admission of our frailty is the ticket to heartfelt living, and unlike a put-down’s negative focus on our faults, carries the dignity of laying down a burdensome mind set. Not only aren’t you perfect, you’re completely human. Come on, admit it!
Andy Bernay—Roman, RN,MS, LMHC has served as the Head of Psychological and Emotional support Department at Hippocrates for he last nine years. He provides a unique form of hody—focused psychotherapy for quests, and leads the ongoing Wisdom Circle.
Vol 19 Issue 1 page 5