This week I’ve been reflecting on how easy it is to avoid being truthful to ourselves. We like to pretend that things are great when they’re not, we persuade ourselves that this is just the way life is, to avoid having to make decisions, and we tell ourselves change is around the corner without taking action to make it so. How do you ensure you’re being honest with yourself? How do you face reality instead of hiding from it? How do we avoid using the big stick and instead be kind and compassionate to ourselves?
“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson
How honest are you with yourself?
You might be struggling to answer this question either because you know you’re not or because you not sure what being honest with yourself really means. If we aren’t honest, then we can’t expect to learn and grow as individuals – we have to be willing to recognize reality for what it is before we can change it.
As human beings we feel compelled to create the perfect impression of ourselves even when things aren’t right. In some cases it’s due to over or under confidence, in others it may be self-deception. But lying to ourselves makes things worse and affects our ability to stay positive and focused. When we deceive ourselves it takes more and more of our energy to keep up the deception which can lead to negativity, avoidance and lack of ambition. When we are dishonest, we choose to see what we want to see whilst ignoring what we don’t want to see. This may provide short-term happiness or relief, but in the long-run it’s unhealthy and destructive.
I had a coaching session this week with a new client who wants to become more disciplined. He was able to clearly articulate why it’s important to him to have a morning routine. He described the activities he’d like to include and the benefits of each – a nourishing breakfast, some reading or learning to feed his brain and exercise to move his body. We talked about the reality – spontaneous evenings, late nights watching videos in bed and lack of willpower in the mornings. “All those benefits, the reasons why I should be doing all that, just don’t seem very important when the alarm goes off in the morning!” he told me. “I’m just coasting from one day to the next.”
“What are the benefits of coasting?” I asked him.
He went silent for several moments and then started talking – to himself much more than to me. He realised that he had not been being honest with himself. He was actually allowing himself time to process the fallout of a painful personal event last year, without really admitting it. He understood in that moment that he was making a choice to coast and that when he was ready to change things he could do so. Instead of using the big stick and so many shoulds, he was able to see that he needed some time and that he could be kind to himself.
Being honest with yourself is key to living your life to the full. Not only does it have a positive impact on you but also on the people around you. Being honest allows you to stay positive even when life is tough. It enables you to look for solutions rather than running away or sticking your head in the sand. Honesty also allows us to detect the self-deception we all use to mask our problems and shield ourselves from pain. Until we accept who we are, in its entirety, we cannot begin to move forward or build the life we want.
Many people claim to be honest with themselves but deep down they are not. Some don’t even realise they’re in denial and continue to experience negativity in their lives. If you find yourself shifting blame to others, chances are you’re suffering from self-deception. We can become blind to our own faults, not because they don’t exist but because we’ve put up a barrier to the problems. Honesty begins with you and taking a long hard look in the mirror. Many people stay in relationships that have been dead for years, take flowers to a colleague in hospital who they despise, sing the praises of their annoying boss or get married just because society expects it. All of these situations are fake and will have a hugely negative impact on your life. You will despise your partner, hate being married, resent your boss and most importantly you will slowly but surely destroy your soul.
Living an honest life is hard. It means accepting reality and making tough decisions such as filing for divorce to regain your self-confidence, letting go of a promising career that’s draining you physically and emotionally or even cutting ties with people who may be dragging you off track. Being honest with yourself isn’t easy and doesn’t take place overnight. It requires lots of dedication, willpower, sacrifice and patience. However, the benefits both short-term and long-term far outweigh the struggles and sacrifices. Not only will you enjoy longer term peace of mind and greater positivity but by being honest you also change the world around you. Being honest with yourself can be painful but highly rewarding. When honesty meets your willingness to change, there is no limit to the ways you can grow and improve.
Here are my Top 10 Tips on how to be more honest with yourself:-
🌟 Acknowledge good and bad. Instead of deluding yourself by ignoring the ‘bad’ aspects of your life, be honest about both. Cultivate a mindset of acceptance towards everything that happens to you.
🌟 Take time. Reflection plays a key role in becoming more honest. Focus on what you did well and what you could do better. Avoid being judgmental or critical. The goal is to take things into the next day that you can improve.
🌟 Journal. Keep track of progress by shedding light on different emotions and how you handled them. Use affirmations to instill self-belief, openness and a positive mindset. Challenge yourself to learn from yourself.
🌟 Avoid distractions. One of the ways we stay in denial is by using distractions. Be conscious of the ways you use to keep yourself from being honest with yourself, and just spend some healthy time with yourself.
🌟 Accept what you don’t know. Being honest keeps us humble and realistic. When we assume we know everything we act in stubborn and irrational ways. We also ignore evidence that contradicts our current beliefs.
🌟 Admit mistakes. Instead of trying to protect our egos by coming up with excuses or blaming others for our problems, true self esteem can only be found when we admit our mistakes, failures, and short-comings.
🌟 Pay attention to your feelings. It’s important to question why we feel the way we do, so we can learn what thoughts, actions, and situations cause us to feel a certain way and how to best respond to our emotions in the future.
🌟 Perspective. To get a richer picture of ourselves, we sometimes need an outside perspective. Someone who will be objective, won’t sugarcoat, who you can trust to call you out on your bullshit when you need it.
🌟 Avoid overthinking. Be careful not to get carried away with the analysis. Excessive thinking is a key symptom behind many mental health problems. Focus on what you can control and avoid blaming yourself. Shit happens!
🌟 Trust your gut. The better you know yourself, the more you can begin trusting your gut and intuition. The more self-aware you become, the easier it is to see when your feelings are guiding you in the right direction.
It’s completely unrealistic to expect yourself to know everything or be able to do everything. Please be kind to yourself and if you’d like to talk through the choices you’re facing or any blockers in your business, let me know.
Lisa Zevi – August 2021