One quality that stands out in the lives of people who carry dignity is their capacity to be honest. Most people, if questioned, would profess dedication to honesty and might even state with conviction that they are scrupulously honest. But I have to question that. With a world where over 80% of employees interviewed have stated that they took things from their place of employment over the course of the last year, there definitely seems to be a problem with honesty. If an employee does not take actual stuff home that belongs to the employer, they take others things that are not so tangible. They steal time in the form of extended e-mails, longer lunch breaks and moseying through errands that they are asked to run for their employers.
The more subtle forms of dishonesty involve what people tell themselves when they want to satisfy a desire. We have little rationalizations when it comes to food, sex and free time. We say we have worked very hard and so deserve to take a break and then we indulge ourselves having already argued the point in our brain and won the argument. We indulge in some delectable morsel or treat because life has been hard and we have had to put extra effort and time into things that were difficult. We steal a block of time to let ourselves fall off a discipline explaining to ourselves that we will get right back on track as soon as we are done with this one lapse. These dishonesties are justified by all the hard things that have happened to us. Dishonesty is basically caused by selfishness and anger. We are angry that life has not taken care of all the hard things for us so we don’t have to do them ourselves. This is the original parent wound that perennially rises into awareness and makes us feel little, weak and hurt. Since we suffered, life owes us. Then we do things and because we can’t stand to feel bad, we lie to ourselves that we deserved those payments and rewards.
With food, there are a thousand excuses for nibbling an extra bite. The dishonest person will say they just want to taste it. The honest person would say they want that bite no matter how bad they are going to feel for doing it and they are mad and are just going to do it because they want to. The dishonest person would say they hardly eat anything at meals, but would fail to disclose the vast amounts of empty foods that they eat between meals and in the privacy of their own isolation. The honest person would say they do not want others to think they were pigging out, so they do it when other people aren’t watching. The dishonest person would say how many things they eat that are good for them, but fail to disclose the things that aren’t. The honest person would say they have a problem with eating that they are trying to get some control over. The dishonest person would merely say they could lose weight whenever they want to. What is not mentioned is how hard it is to stop an addiction since they have never really tried to stop. They still feel justified in indulging themselves and so do not even know how weak and troubled they really are. They basically do not see the connection between their anger and their acting out. They are not aware that they act out in the same direction that the original wound made them feel. The way they try to fix it only causes them to feel the same as they felt as a child. They are re-wounding themselves in the same way, only now it seems like it makes them feel better. The honest person knows it is not making them feel better. It makes them feel just as bad or perhaps worse than before when they were young.
The word ‘honest’ implies truthfulness, fairness in dealing with others, and a refusal to engage in deceit, fraud. A person who is honest is sincere, respectable and has an upright integrity. ‘Integrity’ comes from a root ‘tag’ which means whole, complete, intact, perfect, honest and sound. You can see how important these two qualities are in terms of being true to yourself and upstanding in your relationships with others. Being truthful about what is happening inside you and what you are actually doing forces you to rise to a higher standard of behavior. Because it is embarrassing to speak truthfully about how you are acting out or being selfish, you tend to want to clean it up so you act in ways that you wouldn’t mind people knowing about. In most cases of people confessing their errors and misdeeds, the telling of the fault to someone is most transforming because the person who confesses humbles their pride in order to speak of it. They are finally humble and upset with their error and so there is a great likelihood that they will not do it again. Our students are asked to confess the things they have done wrong to one of the priests so that they can be forgiven and can move on to come into wholeness. If they held back part of the error, that would be dishonest and they would not cleanse their hearts completely.
Try being impeccably honest in the next week and find out how cleansing and exhilarating it can be. It can be scary since most people have a habit of hiding vast portions of what they think and do from other people. Try being brutally honest about yourself. Be discriminating about who you do this with because it shouldn’t be with random strangers. It should be people you care about and with whom you want to build a relationship. We have a recommendation for you: Speak only that which is true, helpful, kind and necessary. There are people who like to take one of those four criteria and lacerate people with the truth of criticisms of their behavior or their person. Saying what is true about another person can be downright mean if you are not kind or helpful. It might be completely unnecessary. So that is why I am suggesting you speak only what is true, helpful, kind and necessary and have each of those be included before you say something to or about other people. As far as saying honest things about yourself, you may just speak the truth because you are not inflicting your opinions or feelings on someone else. If you have a problem with an addiction, speak honestly about it. If you are working on some personal struggle, speak without posturing or making it sound like you are already over it. Be clear and truthful about it. People are going to respect an honest person, whereas if you try to say you are further along than you are with your problem, they will suspect you and not open to you.
You cannot grow past where you are unless and until you state clearly where you really are. You have to have a baseline if you are going to be able to know how much work and effort it is going to take to move to the place you want to go. It takes honesty to develop a plan and follow it. When you are angry, you only want to feel better than you do and so you will lie and manipulate to try to get past where you are. That will not bring integrity or wholeness. You will not be whole until you honestly speak what is going on with you so you know where you stand. The trouble with dishonesty is you will lie to yourself so that you can never quite tell what is true or false anymore. Then in your lies, you have more work to do trying to remember who you made up stories to and who you told the truth to. That is so much more work than living in honesty and truthfulness.
(Tell the Truth)