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Honesty: The Key to Personal Growth and Strong Relationships

Have you ever found it hard to be honest? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Being honest can be daunting for various reasons, and it’s okay to feel uncertain. However, being truthful is essential for personal growth and building strong relationships.

As a life coach for entrepreneurs, I want to support you in being honest with yourself and others.

In this article, we will share some useful tips to help you overcome your fears and become more honest with yourself and others. First, let’s get real about the narrative or the current direction of your life.

What is the narrative of your life?

Questioning messages from the past

What is the narrative of your life? Is it a sitcom, drama, or even sci-fi?

Let’s think about it from a different angle. When I was growing up, I loved ’90s sitcoms. (And no, I never sat and watched a single episode of ‘Friends,’ but I still knew about the ‘Rachel’ haircut and their theme song.)

Anyway, I used to love watching the show Seinfeld, you know, a Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld production featuring the characters Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer.

If you think about it, they were all assholes, messing up relationships and miscommunicating with others. Every episode they were trying to resolve their self-designed messes with more messes, but we all laughed because we could relate to their jerky and inappropriate behavior. 

Now, think about your life. Are you laughing at your own antics, thinking that you are entitled to certain things, or feeling justified about doing/saying things? 

Your life script 

On an unconscious level, we are attracted to things that remind us about ourselves. And these events, people, shows, etc., cement our life script. In other words, our conscious thoughts will keep running your life into you until you examine and change your viewpoint of life. 

If you fear having difficulty being honest with others, perhaps you owe it to yourself to examine the things you consume. They are saying a lot more than you can ever imagine.

Next, let’s talk about why it is hard to be honest with others at times.

People often avoid being honest to prevent conflicts or confrontations with others. Sometimes, it is the fear of a long and drawn-out argument that makes them want to say what they think will get people out of their face as fast as possible.

Why is honesty difficult at times?

Here are some of the many reasons why you may avoid speaking the truth despite knowing that it is best for your mental health and the quality of your relationships.

Fear of judgment

If you were raised in a fear-based and authoritarian home, it is natural to feel defensive against criticism or judgment. As an adult, you may even worry about expressing the truth, fearing that it may damage your relationships, reputation, or social standing.

I once dated a man named Charlie (not his real name). Charlie was raised by parents who were unmarried. As an adult, he dreamed about going to seminary. To strangers and acquaintances, he always referred to his parents as a long-term married couple because he felt their background would tarnish his image as an aspiring pastor. 

Avoiding conflict

People often avoid being honest to prevent conflicts or confrontations with others. Sometimes, it is the fear of a long and drawn-out argument that makes them want to say what they think will get people out of their face as fast as possible.

Individuals who did not feel cared for as children may revert to passive-aggressive tendencies, such as agreeing to something and then never fulfilling their previous agreement. “Living with a Passive-Aggressive Man” by Scott Wexler is a great book that discusses how to deal with passive-aggressive personalities.

If you want a quick explanation of passive-aggressive behavior, watch the video below.

Fear of harm

Nobody wants words used against them later. You may find yourself lying because you fear potential harm, whether physical, emotional, or professional. Revealing certain truths could make you vulnerable or expose you to negative consequences.

My client, Steve (not his real name), stole thousands of dollars from his clients as an investment manager. He literally “cooked the books” to mislead his clients into thinking they had more money than they actually had. Steve used the money to fuel his ever-growing addiction to cocaine and prostitutes.

Social norms and expectations

Our culture also imposes particular expectations on how people should behave or present themselves. Being honest might go against these norms, making you hesitant to express your true thoughts and feelings. This is particularly true in militantly religious and/or political families that often have strict social norms. 

The internet exemplifies this idea. For example, if you try going on social media and say something that is counter to mainstream thought, you will find out how vitriolic and hateful people can be. The common message is, ‘If you do this or that, consider yourself dead to me.’

History of betrayal or broken trust

A history of betrayal or broken trust can make it difficult for someone like yourself to be honest in their interactions with others. You may fear that you honesty will not be reciprocated or they might be skeptical about the intentions of the person with whom they are dealing.

Broken trust is all too common for those who were raised in a dysfunctional family, where it is common for family members to be secretive and distant with one another. They may already feel hurt by a string of past interactions and don’t want to risk any more emotional pain.

In the next section, we will discuss how constant lying not only harms yourself but also others.

Lying can negatively impact a person's self-esteem and self-worth. It is hard to feel successful in your business if you internalize guilt and shame for past and present lies.

The cost of constant lying

It’s important to understand that there are negative consequences that affect not only yourself but also those around you. Here are some common examples of the costs of habitual lying:

Harm to yourself 

Impact on mental and physical health

Maintaining a web of lies can be mentally exhausting and emotionally draining. The fear of being caught, the need to remember fabricated stories, and the guilt associated with dishonesty can lead to increased stress and anxiety.

To make matters worse, chronic lying can contribute to mental health issues such as depression, guilt, or even personality disorders like pathological lying.

Personally, for many years, I suffered from insomnia because I constantly worried throughout the night if I had said a lie to the wrong person. And because I wasn’t well-rested, I was very confused and anxious throughout the day.

Damage to self-esteem and personal integrity 

Lying can negatively impact a person’s self-esteem and self-worth. It is hard to feel successful in your business if you internalize guilt and shame for past and present lies. 

Next, let’s talk about how habitual lying can harm to your career and relationships.

Harm to your relationships  

Isolation and loneliness

Constant lying can lead to isolation as people distance themselves from the liar when they discover the untruths. The liar may find it difficult to maintain genuine connections with others, leading to feelings of loneliness.

I once worked alongside a pathological liar named Jenny (not her real name). Nobody could believe a word that came out of her untruthful mouth. As a result, Jenny frequently worked alone on projects.

During my time working with her, I noticed her slow yet incremental weight gain. There is no doubt in my mind that Jenny went home alone and tried to eat away her internalized shame.

Legal and professional consequences

There are certain scenarios where constant lying not only affects a person’s personal reputation, but it can also have significant legal and professional consequences. In the workplace, there is a certain level of honesty and integrity that is expected from employees. Dishonesty, especially when it is consistent, can lead to a negative impact on the work environment and the colleagues. 

Furthermore, lying on a resume can lead to immediate termination and can even result in legal penalties. Similarly, if an employee has misrepresented themselves during a job interview, it can lead to severe legal implications if discovered. Employers have every right to take legal action against employees who have deceived them or provided false information to get hired. Employers also have the right to terminate any employee who has violated the company’s code of conduct by lying persistently.

Unresolved issues

When we choose to hide the truth or invent excuses rather than confront our problems, we create an environment of dishonesty and instability. The truth is, lies may temporarily diffuse a difficult situation, but they don’t solve it. 

When we consistently lie or mislead, we risk becoming tangled in a web of deceit, where even the smallest lie seems to spiral out of control. And although this may provide temporary relief, ultimately it only leads to more confusion and drama. 

Moreover, once mistrust and suspicion seep in, it can be challenging to regain the respect and trust of those we care about. So, let’s avoid turning our lives into a scripted drama and start resolving our problems in healthy and positive ways.

In the following section, we will discuss how you can be honest with yourself and others in all areas of your life.

Your life doesn't need to resemble a soap opera drama. Honesty simplifies your life and makes things easier.

Embrace honesty with yourself 

Being honest when you’re scared can be challenging, but it’s an important step towards personal growth and building stronger relationships. This will be divided into honesty with yourself, then how to be honest with others. 

Here are some tips to help you be honest with yourself despite your fears:

1) Understand the benefits of honesty

Remember: honesty fosters trust, authenticity, and deeper connections with others. It also allows you to live with integrity and reduces the burden of keeping secrets.

Additionally, keep reminding yourself of the positive outcomes of being honest. It may be as simple as telling yourself that you can improve your self-confidence, resilience, inner integrity, or the quality of your long-term relationships – whatever positive outcome you desire.

2) Recognize and accept your fear

When you are faced with a situation where you need to be honest, it’s important to recognize and accept that feeling scared is normal and okay. It is perfectly natural to fear judgment or potential consequences of being honest, but don’t let that fear paralyze you. Instead, try to stay calm and focused, and take deep breaths if necessary. 

3) Remember your values

One way to build up your confidence is to remind yourself of your core values. Reaffirming your values can give you strength and conviction in being honest. It helps you navigate difficult situations with integrity. Consider what is most important to you, and how being honest aligns with those principles. 

4) Practice self-compassion

Lastly, practicing self-compassion is crucial in this process. Be kind to yourself throughout the process and understand that being honest doesn’t mean being perfect. It is okay to make mistakes along the way, and it’s important to forgive yourself when you do. 

Next, let’s talk about how to be more honest even when you feel fearful and anxious.

A series of infographics with various things to do.

Embrace honesty with others 

Focus on the present

It’s super easy to time-travel to all the possible reactions from others. You may feel they will look down on you or even want to terminate the relationship. Try not to dwell on potential future outcomes or judgments. 

You don’t know, nor can you predict, how people will react. The best and only thing you can do is to concentrate on the current moment and your intention to be honest.

Start with small steps

You may feel like you have to tell everything to everyone all at once, but you do not have to. This is the time when you need to give yourself lots of self-compassion.

If being completely honest feels overwhelming, begin with small truths and gradually work your way up to more significant matters. Simple statements like “I feel scared when X happened” or “I feel uncomfortable about this” are steps in the right direction. 

Keep the focus on your feelings and allow yourself the space to explore a remedy with another person. Moreover, being empathetic with others will help build your confidence.

Prepare what you want to say

Sometimes, you may have to talk to someone who makes you feel anxious or fearful for whatever reason. As a life coach for business owners, I understand that you may work with scary and downright alarming people during the day. That is why you need to be measured and diplomatic in your approach.

Before you write that email or have that conversation, take some time to organize your thoughts. It can help you feel more in control and lessen your anxiety. Start by writing down your feelings during certain events. There’s no need to judge, analyze, or even try to rationalize yourself. 

Honesty with others begins with honesty with yourself. After you have gathered your thoughts, think about which ideas or thoughts are important and necessary for the other person to know.

Choose the right time and place

I usually struggle to discuss serious matters while on the road. The constant honking of horns and loud noises make it easy for me to say something short, even if it’s not entirely true.

If you need to speak the truth, choose a calm and private location where you can talk without distractions or interruptions. Being in a secure place may alleviate some of your concerns.

Pro tip: Silence the notifications on your mobile phone, watch, and electronic gadgets. It’s not necessary to have constant buzzing noises when you’re already anxious or experiencing an overstimulated sympathetic nervous system response.

Be clear and direct

When the time comes for you to reveal your true thoughts, it’s important to be forthright and direct in conveying your message. It is crucial that you avoid any vagueness in your words, as well as any unnecessary apologies or explanations which might distract from your ultimate message.

By speaking with conviction and clarity, you not only bolster your own self-assurance, but also receive greater recognition from your audience. With a confident and compelling delivery, your words will resonate more closely and be taken more seriously by those who hear them. Therefore, always be sure to express your thoughts in a clear and concise manner, without any confusion or equivocation.

Next, I will share my final thoughts regarding being honest with yourself and with others.

Final Thoughts about Honesty

Being truthful is not easy, but it is worth it. 

Even though it may be difficult, telling the truth can result in genuine connections, elevated self-esteem, and a feeling of being principled.

Tackling the obstacles of telling the truth typically entails enhancing one’s self-awareness, cultivating reliance with others, and acknowledging the advantageous impact honesty can have on one’s personal and work life.

Resist old and unhealthy tendencies. 

Being honest when you’re scared is a courageous act, and it can lead to more fulfilling relationships and a stronger sense of self. Remember that everyone experiences fear, but it’s the willingness to face it that sets you on the path to personal growth and emotional well-being.

The price of lying is too rich for your blood.

In general, the cost of constant lying can be significant, affecting various aspects of a person’s life, relationships, and well-being. It is essential to recognize the negative consequences of dishonesty and to consider the benefits of practicing honesty and authenticity.

Don’t hesitate working with me if you need support. However, if your fear of being honest is deeply rooted or causing significant distress, please seek guidance from a licensed therapist. You don’t have to suffer from internalized shame and guilt. 

To learn more about honesty, dig deeper by clicking here to listen to this episode of my entrepreneur podcast or pressing the play button below.

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE

The information in this article is for informational purposes only. No material in this article or website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical and/or mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Also, this article is not designed to diagnose or treat yourself or anyone with a suspected mental health illness.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read from me or anyone else online.

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