I really value honesty. I realise that I value it more than I should at times or that it trumps other values I have when maybe it shouldn’t.

This isn’t easy to write about, obviously, because I keep going back and holding down the delete key. What am I trying to say? How do I make my thoughts clear?

A long while back I wrote a post about friendships, particularly ones that seem to be “high maintenance”, but never published it. I felt uneasy that it would be taken the wrong way. That my honest thoughts about how I was feeling would be taken as personal criticism instead of me just talking about how much work it seemed I was doing to make the friendship work and it still wasn’t feeling rewarding. Of course labelling the friendships that take a lot of work in this particular way, “high maintenance” doesn’t help if I don’t want offence taken. I’ve never been good at sugar coating my thoughts, even though my intentions are often coming from a “good” place. I refuse to lie and I really don’t want to come off as inauthentic. This fact leads me to say less than I could, even though I know that at other times I’m prodigiously wordy- or at least my husband would say so. I digress (again).

Where was I? Honesty. Right. I value this a great deal. I get so frustrated when family and friends are “nice” instead of saying something uncomfortable, hint instead of speaking their mind or put something off because they didn’t really want to do it the first place instead of saying so outright. When this happens, I feel disappointed because I’d like honesty and mutuality between us. 

Lately there was been a lot of talk, on and offline, about how hard it is to grow up in a society and culture that makes it difficult to not only act honestly but even more to the point, where we have long ago lost track of how we honestly feel. We don’t recognise our own feelings because we were conditioned to suppress the hard (angry, upset, hurt) ones. Our loved ones didn’t know how to and/or didn’t want to deal with how we felt. We would then fear repercussions to our honest hard feelings. Will people still want to be around us? Will they hear what we’re saying about ourselves or only hear criticism towards themselves, even though it has nothing to do with them? Will we be told to get over it, move on, try and “think on the positive side” or otherwise sweep these valid feelings under the rug?

I’ve said more times than I can count, “if you can’t/don’t want to/this is a bad time/won’t work for you… please tell me. It’s not a big deal.” I really value honesty. I am willing to hear something I may not want to hear! I’m willing to listen to the real feelings going on for my loved one, even the hard ones, without taking offence! I would love to be told that you can’t or don’t want to do something instead of being lead to believe the opposite!

I’d like to make a better effort at doing the same instead of staying silent for fear of how my loved one will take it. When I’ve noticed that I’ve been told what someone thinks I want to hear rather than the truth, I’ve lost a little trust that they’re willing to hear the truth from me. I want to build trust with my loved ones so we can be honest with each other. I want each of us to be willing to look deeper into what is said and not just jump to conclusions or take offence where none is given. I want us to find the intention behind each other’s words and/or to help explore what needs are being met or not met resulting in the feelings expressed.

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16 Responses to Honesty

  1. Katherine says:

    Thanks Annie. This one hits home, big time.

  2. I know what you mean. I hate when I realize that I’ve said something to be nice rather than honest. I remember being shocked when you didn’t answer the phone unless you wanted to talk but I there are times when I wish I could let myself leave it to ring. Instead I’m more likely to let a caller what’s going on so they know why I’m rushing them off the phone but I just wish I could do it in a nicer manner.

    I’m glad you could get this one off your chest!

  3. Anie says:

    I love what you have said. I struggle with this also-wanting to be real, wanting to be able to grow and speak freely-and yet-not so harshly as to constantly offend. There is alot of editing that goes on internally, and then alot of frustration at the unspoken in my self..and in others!
    thanks fro sharing!

  4. Annie says:

    I appreciate all your comments. Sometimes these subjects are tough to write about so it’s always so nice to see that others can relate.

  5. MB says:

    I, too, value honesty and that has started a many a fights in my family and that of my husbands. People do tend to be “proper” all the time and it really rubs against the grain for me. Anyone who knows me knows I have a hard time keeping my thoughts, good and bad, from spilling out.
    I do try, however, to examine my motives. Am I just grumpy at the person? Do they really need to hear what my honest opinion is? Is my comment or criticism justified? I may hate someone’s haircut but what can be gained by saying something cruel for such an irrelevant thing? I may think someone is foolish or behaving immaturely but will my saying so prevent them for seeking help from me or from confiding in me in the future? I tend to think that that will only make them angry at me and pull their energy away fromworking on a solution.
    I make it my number one rule to love. If my comment will be perceived as innapropriate and the issue is really not that important then I err on the side of caution and keep my mouth shut.
    I keep reading about positive reinforcement. Isn’t that what that means? I find I can affect the way people think by being considerate much more effectively than by being brutally honest.
    A suggestion is often much better received than an instruction.
    I know that I personally am much more likely to appreciate a straight up comment if I know that the comment is meant in love.

    I hope I didn’t intude on your space here. :)

  6. MB says:

    I meant “intrude” right at the end there.
    The keyboard for my temporary computer sticks and I can’t type worth a darn with it.

  7. Annie says:

    What you write here isn’t in line with what I was getting at in my posting about Honesty. Honesty is honesty. Real honesty isn’t cruel, critical, judgemental or manipulative… It is always justified and never inappropriate. It’s speaking from the heart and with good intentions- especially when it comes to being honest with those we care about. It’s not always easy being honest when I fear the reaction in might be met with but the reactions other people have are their own responsibility. If they have a negative reaction to my honesty, it’s because they have their own issues or needs are not being met. Sometimes it takes being honest with ourselves before we can be honest with others.

    If someone asks me what I think of their haircut and I don’t like it, I can say this in a number of ways. Because I care about them I want to be honest. I wouldn’t want to say that I liked their hair cut if I didn’t really. It’s not irrelevant because they asked my opinion.

  8. Krista says:

    Just want to add – I so admire your directness in your interactions with me. It has helped me to develop trust in our relationship very quickly, where it would take much longer with most others. Direct honesty is such a precious, rare gift. I can not say that loud enough. I feel uneasy and sometimes outright enraged when I know that someone is “tempering” their choice of words to me in order to “save” me from feeling a feeling – hurt, disappointment, sadness… I realize they are trying to own and manipulate my feelings/reactions! But I am not a puppet!!

    When we are together, I feel refreshed and relieved because I really sense your lack of “tempering”, you say it like it is. And you allow me to own my feelings! Yet, at the same time, I sense compassion and understanding from you. You don’t sound “mean”. I wish is was more common for people to possess this skill. It is so freeing. You can be you, and I can be me, honestly.

    Peaceful Living, by Mary Mackenzie has written many pages on this topic that have been really helpful for me to meditate on. In the end, we are not doing anyone any “favors” by “gently lying” to others. But it takes great skill and discernment to stay tuned into our intention and our values when we are sharing our truth with others. Maintaining our values and coming from a place of integrity and respect for ourselves and the other person is the part we are lacking when we decide it’s better to lie, or omit, or temper information sometimes. It takes practice, practice, practice to be real!!

  9. Krista says:

    Oh, I just read MB’s comment and now I have so much more I want to say but don’t have enough time. One thing I’ll say here (and then take the rest to my blog) is: we can never go wrong by honestly expressing OUR feelings and needs. Opinions are not always wanted/needed/necessary for an honest interaction. Often, whenever we come from our “head” in our interactions with others, we are actually not being honest. We are in judgment mode. When we express from our hearts, this is pure honesty. How is what the person said or did affecting you? Are you able to tune into that? I think it’s so important to take that time to be honest with ourselves before we even try with another. I think other people can really sense the difference when we respond from that place.

  10. Krista says:

    Okay, I’m back. I need to clarify, it’s bugging me. What I am really trying to point to is that there is a difference between a “value judgment” and a “moralistic judgment”. Stating how something affects us, is the value judgment. Stating that something is or isn’t good, bad, nice, rude, ugly, pretty, mean, kind…. is static language.

    That food is too spicy.
    That food is spicier than I like.

    Which one sounds like a value judgment? Which one states a static judgment?

    Your hair looks awful when it’s that short.
    Personally, I enjoyed your hair when it was down past your shoulders.

    Should we really try to hide our personal preferences in an attempt to buffer other people’s feelings? Is it a crime to like one thing more than another? Does what I like really need to affect your self esteem? Are we really responsible for making sure others feel okay about themselves? And does that mean others are responsible for making me feel okay about myself? Lots of food for thought, I’ll be working on this stuff today :)

  11. Annie says:

    Krista, I really appreciate that. I really do always want to come from a place of honesty, compassion and consideration. These are things I want to share back and forth with friends! I’d rather be real with each other than “nice”!

    I’ve been so lucky to be getting to know you better. You’ve reminded me about my love for NVC. I’m using it more with myself and my loved ones everyday. I did actually write a post about this that I have yet to publish….

    Your comments make so much sense and add a lot to what I wanted to say/get across. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  12. kristen says:

    I agree with your post and the comments. It is really hard for me to be honest and tactful. I too am easy to read-I wear my emotions on my sleeve. So it is often hard for me to hide my feelings -which isn’t what I want to do but sometimes I like to hide them long enough to put my kind words together!
    I am lucky to have a few honest friends and I appreciate that honesty. Nice post!

  13. sarah says:

    i’ve been away from my blogs for a while, and i love coming home and catching up. i’ve said it before, but you amaze me with how often you manage to post, and about such far reaching subjects! i love the post about honesty right above the peanut pizza recipe (looks yum by the way!) i love how our blogs are really and truly ‘us’- we post about what’s important or what we love or hate or the beautiful or the ugly- as individual as we each are! thanks!

  14. Annie says:

    Thanks so much Sarah! I was just talking about this the other day- about how different blogs can be. A lot of blogs will have a single theme- like crafting or food and then others cover a variety of topics. My blog is definitely one of the latter. I’m all over the place but this blog has really become an online journal of my life and I’m really enjoying sharing it. I love how you put this:

    i love how our blogs are really and truly ‘us’- we post about what’s important or what we love or hate or the beautiful or the ugly- as individual as we each are!

    That’s so lovely because it’s real.

  15. gracegirl35 says:

    I am new to your lovely blog and have been reading through some of your older posts.

    This is a great post! Lately I have been feeling the same way, and your post articulated how I feel in a way that I have so far been unable to. It is nice to know that there are others out there that feel the same way:)

    Thank you! And I look forward to reading through more of your blog.

  16. Annie says:

    Thanks, Gracegirl! It was interesting to read this old post! It all holds true for me still and I think I needed to read it again. I look forward to getting to know you too! xx

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