People are wired to avoid pain. We go to great lengths to stay safe and to avoid consequences. Unfortunately, this aversion to negative consequences also extends to our relationship with honesty. We can talk about the importance of making human society a place that is more conducive to honesty. But that is a separate talk from the one we need to have today. We need to have a talk about choosing to be honest, even when there are social consequences, rather than powerlessly waiting for society to make it ok to be honest first.
Also, for this conversation we are going to have, it makes no sense to get into a discussion around the morality of honesty in general because there are very real situations in which you could argue that morally, not being truthful is a better choice… Just think about the people who were harboring Jews in WW2 deciding that it is best to tell the Nazis that they were in fact hiding Jews just because telling the truth is more moral.
While every one of us will find ourselves not being honest in one situation or another over the course of our lives (because we will perceive the consequence to be too high), the sad reality is that some people will not be honest if they perceive there to be any negative consequence for their truth. If you are one of these people, your life ends up devolving into a game of strategy rather than authenticity. Rather than speaking and acting in alignment with your own truth, you will strategically speak and act in order to avoid negative consequences and in order to get whatever reaction you want from others; regardless of whether that causes you to be out of alignment with your own truth. You will have become a strategic person instead of an honest person.
If you are someone who will not be honest if you perceive there to be any negative consequence for your truth, chances are high that you make other people responsible for making it safe for you to share your truth; before you are willing to share it. Essentially, you are conditional with your truth. Sharing your truth is conditional upon other people making it so that there are no consequences for you sharing your truth. There are big problems with this. Problems that will not serve you in the long run, never mind other people. In order to live a life worth living, you’re going to have to change your relationship to honesty and also to consequences.
The first problem with only being willing to be honest if there are no negative consequences for your honesty is that it defies universal law. This is a universe based on the law of mirroring and the law of cause and effect. Literally everything has a reflection and a consequence. This includes honesty. The reason that there is less of a consequence for your honesty with certain people is down to a whole host of factors. For example, for the most part, there are no consequences for being honest to a therapist. Of course, if you walk into a therapist’s office and are honest that you killed someone, suddenly there is a consequence; because as mandatory reporters, they will be reporting you to the police. But, let’s say that you are a man who has been married to a woman for 12 years and you go into a therapist’s office and tell the therapist that you are gay. There will be no negative consequence for that because the fact that you are gay does not change anything for the therapist. That truth does not negatively impact the therapist. The therapist can validate that truth for you and accept it and put you more at peace with your truth. However, if you tell the woman that you have been married to for 12 years that you are gay, it is cruel for you to expect her to make it safe for you to share that truth by making sure there are no consequences. For example, by making the sharing of that truth of yours conditional upon her not getting angry or not asking you for a divorce.
You may imagine that it is possible to think, say or do something which will enable you to avoid consequences. But this is not actually possible. The reality is that everything you do has a consequence. And everything you do not do has a consequence. When we are someone who is only willing to be honest if there are no negative consequences for our honesty, we are often acutely aware of the consequences of being honest. However, we are ignorant to the consequences of not being honest. But guess what? There are always consequences for both. For example, there are big negative consequences for the man in our example never being honest that he is gay as well.
So often people who have this conditional relationship with honesty will say “I was just being honest” when they encounter a negative reaction or a negative consequence for whatever they said… As if the fact that they were honest should in and of itself make it so that the other person is wrong to have a negative reaction to their truth. Or as if it should make it so they are exempt from there being a negative effect in response to their honesty. In order to work yourself out of this pattern, you should think about the fact that you could not grant someone else this amnesty.
Imagine that you were married and your spouse was suddenly honest one day that he or she was in love with someone else. You would still have a negative reaction. They would still feel guilty. And you would probably not want to have sex with him or her and you would end up feeling more distant and distrustful and going to marriage counseling, if not sleeping in different rooms or divorced. If they said “What… I was just being honest”, as if to make you wrong for having a negative reaction, and wrong for there being negative consequences for sharing that truth, that would be cruelty. If they needed the condition of no reaction and no consequences in order to be able to share that truth with you, you absolutely could not make them safe enough to be able to share that truth of theirs.
Another example is this: Imagine that you own a business and your employee is stealing trade secrets in order to build their own business that will compete with yours; because his or her honest truth is that you are a bad person and someone who is a better person deserves to take over the market. Now imagine that this employee needs you to have no reaction and needs there to be no negative consequence in order to be honest with you about this. You cannot give that to them. There is no way you will be emotionally fine with this truth. And there is no way that you can employ them anymore when you are faced with this truth.
You are a person who is trapped and disempowered if you will only be honest if other people make there be no consequences for that honesty; and if you are unwilling to take the responsibility for the consequences of your honesty. In order to get out of that trap and to be at the cause instead of at the effect of your life, you’re going to have to get seriously conscious about the consequences of being honest and the consequences of not being honest in any given situation. You’re going to have to play them out over time. And rather than expecting those consequences to not be there, consciously choose your consequences. If you want to learn more about how this bravery leads you to a much more empowered life, you can watch my video titled: Why You Should Consciously Choose Consequences.
One of these consequences for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty, is that you are deciding to be separate from other people and alone. A relationship is only real when you are in a relationship with the reality of someone. When you are not honest, they are in a relationship with an illusion. You are creating an overlay for the other person to be in a relationship with. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: Overlay (What Prevents You from Having a Real Relationship). You are also making sure that there is distance between you and the other person. There is only intimacy when you see, hear, feel and know the other person. Vibrationally speaking, it may be interesting for you to know that even when there are distancing consequences for someone’s truth (such as a break up), even then the two people are in fact closer to each other than they were when they were together but separated by a lie or by an omission.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty, is all the pain that comes with codependency. Codependency is not a personality disorder. It is a relationship strategy. But it is a relationship strategy that will lead you straight to a living hell. You will conform to whatever other people want and forfeit your selfhood in exchange for getting only some of your needs met and feeling only kind of safer. Your entire life will be a compromise. And as if not being able to live the life you really want isn’t bad enough, you will be constantly reinforcing a self-concept of shame. You will perpetuate your own enmeshment trauma over the course of your adult life. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: How to Heal Family Enmeshment Trauma.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that there is no way to build actual trust in your relationships. The dishonesty itself takes trust off of the table for both you and them. But trust is quite literally the holy grail of relationships. This means all of your relationships will be insecure and unsafe. To learn more about this, watch my video titled: Trust (What Is Trust and How To Build Trust in Relationships).
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that your relationships will be exhausting and unfulfilling. When you are being strategic in your relationships, you are effectively playing a chess game 24-7. It is a very stressful existence. You will find this painful and need to withdraw and spend a great deal of time alone. Being inauthentic takes energy and effort and it doesn’t feel good. And you will be unable to keep it up long term. No one can. And when the truth does come out, other people will lose respect for you. There is a freedom with honesty. There is an energy with honesty. Dishonesty makes relationships depleting, difficult and painful to try to maintain.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that you will end up losing touch with your personal truth. When we suppress, deny, disown, don’t acknowledge, speak the opposite and act the opposite of our truth, we have the tendency to lose track of what our personal truth even is. We have to start pretending, lying, omitting, deceiving, misleading and being inauthentic to ourselves. We become lost as a result. We become very confused. We can’t make the right decisions for our own life. And we become very susceptible to just going along with others and adopting their truth as if it were our own. We also become susceptible to being manipulated by others. All of this means that personal happiness is out of our reach. It also corrodes your mental, emotional and even physical health.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that you will never actually find people or places or things that you are actually compatible to. You are dooming yourself to a life of incompatibility. You will of course have to justify this by telling yourself that compromise and accommodation is right and good. You will have to minimize the importance of compatibility. But dooming yourself to a life of incompatibility is a recipe for constant conflict with others and constant pain and constant sacrifice and constant shame. To learn more about this, watch my video titled: Incompatibility (A Harsh Reality in Relationships).
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that you are perpetuating a dishonest world. Deceit is contagious. We can consider ourselves to be part of the problem if we speak and act in a way that normalizes dishonesty and inauthenticity. When we act in our own best interests to the point of pretense, lying, omitting, deceiving, misleading and being inauthentic, we help to establish this as the norm for our society. And we are then part of creating the very thing that is in fact causing us so much pain.
If you are someone who struggles to be honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty, you may be tempted to justify, rationalize and come up with excuses for your deceptive behavior. You must know that you will always be able to come up with an excuse for it. You will always be able to justify it. You will always be able to re-frame and rationalize it. The question is: Where does the justifying and rationalizing get you?
There is always a why behind dishonesty. Knowing this why behind dishonesty can help you to predict the consequences of that dishonesty. Not being honest has its benefits, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. Telling the truth has negative consequences, otherwise people wouldn’t lie. If you want wellbeing in your life and if you want real relationships, you need to consciously choose your consequences rather than expecting other people to make those consequences ‘not to be there’. This means, even though all of us would rather it be perfectly safe in order for us to be honest, if you want a life worth living, your truth and your honesty cannot always be conditional upon safety.