Honesty is Always the Best Policy but Not Always the Easiest
Aside from reasons you were given growing up, why tell the truth? Over the many years of being a therapist, I’ve been witness to many explanations justifying not telling the truth but much fewer rationales for truth-telling. Truth be told, honesty can be tough. It doesn’t make us look good all the time. There can be some downright uncomfortable consequences from it. We can lose things and people we want because of it. But, in the long run, it’s our ally and through it, we grow into ourselves and relationships.
From a relationship perspective, the benefit of truth-telling is fairly obvious. Truth and transparency foster intimacy and understanding. If a partner withholds the truth, there is less known about them by their partner and distance intercedes. Intimacy isn’t always warm, soft and comfortable. Intimacy can mean wrestling with some very tough stuff and can involve serious disagreement. But, in that disagreement are two people presenting themselves honestly. Without honesty, two people step forward as caricatures and the interaction is built on falsehood or shadows of truth. A relationship can’t be built on such a foundation.
The case for honesty as it benefits an individual isn’t always as clear as compared to how it aids relationship. It goes beyond the adage of “morality” and involves consequences and the process of becoming for an individual. Consequences are unavoidable in life and what we think we escape through lying or deception will eventually find us but often with a heavier hand and perhaps unfold in ways we didn’t imagine. Better to bear a little pain proportionate to the injury than ignore it and buckle under a wound we can’t function under. Secondly, an individual benefits by speaking up about what they need and who they are. This is another form of truth and involves having a voice and setting boundaries. The responsibility of being human can be a bit overwhelming if we think about it long enough, and part of that responsibility involves manifesting our potential through action and behavior. It’s the process of becoming or growing into who we can be. If we withhold our needs and objections, shirk away from reaching out, shy away from exercising our talents and passions, we stay hidden, small and stagnate. We avoid growth, deny our possibilities and cheat ourselves and others out of the benefits of who we could be. Truth is married to the process of becoming because it’s the only way our ideas, thoughts, passions, and talents become real. Our degree of truthfulness exists only as much as we act and that action shapes and expresses our identity.
Truth-telling is tough. But, it’s the only path towards a rich life and the only means to which we can grow into the best version of who we can become. It’s fraught with responsibility, will hurt some, acknowledges our limitations and inefficiencies, but holds the exciting promise of growth, wisdom and a life rich with meaning and purpose.
If you or you and your partner seek counseling, please contact me today. My office is located in San Diego, CA.