All or nothing thinking seems to be the only acceptable way to conceive of honesty. You’re either honest or you’re not. That is rigid thinking and unfortunately 100% complete honesty is rare. The most deceitful person you’ve known tells the truth sometimes and the most honest friend you have has hedged the truth on occasions.
Maybe we can create a more honest scale for reporting our “honesty average” and start saying things like, “On average, I’m 85% honest and I desire more accurate moments than not.” Isn’t hiding our dishonesty, dishonest? I want us to allow the reality that a person won’t be 100% honest, all the time.
Several years ago I tried to deflect a very important question that my five year son asked me, “Mommy, Is Buzz Lightyear real?” I detoured him towards answering the question himself. When he asked again I redirected him to his preferred perception of his childhood hero. Then after a full day of not lying but not telling him the truth, I gave in to honesty, I told him that Buzz Lightyear was a pretend person, a cartoon. I quickly found out that he wasn’t ready to hear that truth. He was devastated – despair written on his sweet but sad face. I believe now that childhood hope can be born in fantasy.
Dishonesty, although not deemed a desirable choice, happens sometimes for good reasons. But when it is used to trick or trap another person it becomes an unfair (and invisible) weapon. Unfortunately, when lying works it can become a way of life – a way that the people closest to you won’t appreciate.
The irony about lies is that they can be told (or untold) to keep a feeling of acceptability, but if you are only accepted because of a lie, you never feel truly acceptable. Lying which allows you to look different to others doesn’t help you to like looking at yourself. Give yourself more 100% true blue moments. Being honest about who you are, what you like and what you know or don’t know tells people who you are. You can be the hero in your own story even if you are also sometimes the villain – raise your hero percentage for a happier outcome.
One Thing To Do: Stand in front of the mirror this weekend and tell yourself a part of your true story that you keep hidden. If it is difficult to get the words out with yourself make an appointment with someone who can help you feel safe as you share.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.