What does it mean to be honest?
It means to be free from deception. It means to be genuine, truthful, full of integrity, reputable, frank, honorable, real, creditable and just. Look at yourself and ask, “Am I those characteristics listed above? Do my choices and behaviors reflect those characteristics?” Honesty can be shown through outward indicators such as paying your bills on time, being willing to follow through with commitments you make to yourself and others, telling the Truth about something even though you will have an uncomfortable outcome, finding money in the parking lot of a store and returning it to the owners, not using a service that you are unwilling or unable to pay for, not taking something that is not yours, not engaging in gossip, standing up for what you believe in and value (especially in the face of adversity), and giving support and validation to those less fortunate than you in any capacity.
What is “Emotional Honesty?”
How is emotional honesty different from just being honest? It is different in that, it means we need to pay attention to our emotions and learn to be honest about them with ourselves and with others. We as people don’t usually pay much attention to our emotions, and therefore, our emotions “run us” and often “make” our choices for us. We react in unconsciousness instead of responsibility and consciousness. We make many, many choices every day based on our emotional systems and never think twice about doing something, thinking something or feeling something, which if it were seen, would mortify us that others knew. What a difference a little unconsciousness makes. What a difference being in the shadows of hidden thoughts and feelings, makes. How comfortable would you be if all of your thoughts and feelings were out on display for others to see and hear? Would you be more conscious about what you give yourself permission to think and feel? Would you be more careful and deliberate about the perceptions you choose to have and react to? Would you be more empathic and understanding (not enabling) to yourself and others? Would you be less judgmental and angry? Would you be more patient? Would you ask more questions and stand in a place of curiosity rather than quickly evaluate, condemn and sentence your victim? Would you be willing to truly love as God does? What would you look like if you were mentally and emotionally exposed? If you were vulnerable to others’ purview to evaluate and know your private thoughts and feelings?
Being emotionally honest is the practice of doing just that—exposing yourself to yourself in such a way that you are honest with all that you think and feel. Emotional honesty means that all of your internal dialogue is up for inspection and examination by yourself. It means that you begin to live a life where your inside dialogue of honesty matches your outside expressions of honesty. It means you don’t live as a hypocrite because you are unconscious or because your private thoughts and feelings don’t have a volume button for others to turn up and hear what you really think. Be congruous! Be full of integrity internally and externally! Be authentic! Be mentally and emotionally clean and clear, internally and externally.
Being emotionally honest requires a nearly-constant review of your thoughts, feelings, agendas, motives, attitudes, beliefs, fears, morals, expectations, and justifications, numerous times throughout every day. You must learn who you are internally and not “hang your hat” on your external expressions of what you do and what people think of you. Many of us are duplicitous and hypocritical, mostly because we are unconscious. Are you one of them? Your internal world will be exposed at some point along this experience called life—are you ready for that?
External Works, Internal Questions
Emotional honesty is a protection for us. Our good works bless the outside world—don’t stop engaging in them, and begin to review your internal motives and agendas. You must become aware of what drives you—what “makes you” feel the way you do. What gives you permission to engage in dishonest or destructive behavior? What gives you permission to hurt others, knowingly or unknowingly, with insincere or unfair information or erroneous “facts”? What tells you, “You are better than another” and that you get to behave in lofty, supercilious or condescending tones? What supports you to believe that your hurt paves the way for you to do, say, and act in any way you choose because you have been injured? What frightens and scares you and thus reinforces your philosophies of entitlement and self-aggrandizement? What do you need to stop believing in, which fills you full of self-doubt, uncertainty, anxiety and shame that tells you, among other things, “You are to be the servant emotionally and physically to another,” or “You don’t deserve and therefore you are unworthy”?
Who are you? What energizes you? You must know who you are. We are commissioned to “know thyself.” Don’t let that declaration intimidate or frighten you. It is a charge that suggests a progression of awareness, not immediate perfected behavior. We, as humans, participate in and create things that mark us with the “appearance of perfection.” These observations come from others, and sometimes from ourselves. We want to be seen as being successful in business, or making a significant amount of money, or honing a talent, yet we always fall short; we don’t do it perfectly. This type of drive to be perfect is full of pitfalls and distortions because we are mortal and we will never be able to be perfect in this state. Yet we inadvertently or advertently continue to participate in a cycle of control, endeavoring to manage our lives and the perceptions of others in pursuit of the goal of being perfect.
The True Goal
The real goal needs to be practice, practice, practice. We need to practice being conscious of what we do, think and feel. We need to practice being curious about ourselves. We need to practice asking ourselves the deeper questions instead of staying on the surface with thoughts such as, “I am tired. That’s why I am grumpy.” It is true that you may be tired, and it is not emotionally the Truth that your tiredness gives you permission to be grumpy. What else is going on? Find out—ask yourself and be willing to be accountable for the answers that will come.
Becoming emotionally honest will empower you and free you from the illusion of perfection and control. It will break the bonds of slavery to your unconsciousness, which unconsciousness drives you to react to anything and anyone. Be aware! Be awake! “Be thou humble” and you will be taught by intuitive wisdom who you are, what is moving inside of you and what “gets” you to do, react, think, and feel the way you do. Becoming emotionally honest gives you the freedom to have more choices than living in the rigid perceptions that your initial reactions to life’s challenges bring. When you become willing to ask yourself and get curious about, “Why am I. . . ?”, “Why did I . . . ?”, “How come I . . . ?” and stop giving yourself permission to cast your gaze around the room at others—you will begin to live a life of emotional honesty and become a rigorously responsible being. Then and only then will you begin to perfect yourself as God commissions—because you are willing to look at your imperfections that are currently silent and unconscious to you. As you do, you will learn, grow and increase in true wisdom, light, and compassion—not their illusionary counterfeits.
Why We Must Be Emotionally Honest
Emotional honesty is made possible by our connection to God or our Higher Power, who enables us (gives us power) to heal our pasts, change our natures and become honest and full of integrity. Emotional honesty takes on eternal significance in Christian theology. Consider the following words in light of the concept of emotional honesty.
“‘Make no mistake,’ [Christ] says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.������ – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity p. 161
When we choose dishonesty, we disconnect ourselves from the enabling power of God. As we choose emotional honesty, we invite the power of God to make the necessary changes to our nature, until we become full of honesty, joy, power and peace.