“A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.” – Mark Twain
Husband: Knock, knock
Wife: Who’s there?
Wife: Nobody’s home
Let’s give ourselves kudos for our “do good and feel good actions.” We eat pretty healthy, and we exercise. We take time to pray, meditate and volunteer. We give thanks, and we count our blessings. Doing good and feeling good are directly connected; they help us live meaningful balanced lives. Yay for “us” in all the good we do, but are we sometimes cheating ourselves by staying in our “blind eye” comfort zones? Are there parts of ourselves that could use self-reflection, a reality check or redirection? Many of our beliefs and habits are egocentric and subconscious. Speaking for myself, I may not be as good, pure, (gulp) and as honest as I think I am. I still like what I see in the mirror but know words have wings and sometimes my words are self-centered. Sometimes I give lip service or pay way too much attention to being really good at something so people don’t notice my flaws.
Opening a Can of Worms is Not Fun… Let the Worms Go Unless You’re a Fish
We operate on auto-pilot 24/7, but every now and again we need to STOP IT! When we are ready to be honest with ourselves we quiet our minds, and clarity comes into focus. We may start to realize some things that we don’t think we are ready for… like that darn can of worms again, but let’s let our prickly thoughts resonate a bit. Realize that we are all loved more than we will ever know and that we are amazingly strong and resilient.
Honesty may surprise us; perhaps there will be a moment where we see things in a new light. We may question the truth of our lives’ stories and our core beliefs. We may have an “aha moment” deciding to peel the onion, shed a few tears and rid ourselves of what no longer suits us or serves us. Bye-bye worms! Hello honesty and relief!
If you haven’t heard Brene Brown, now might be a good time to listen to one of her talks. She is a researcher and speaker. She tackles some big topics like grief and vulnerability. Here is an interesting Ted Talk from Brene https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en
To paraphrase, Brene realized that what she was thinking kind of resembled paranoia; her thinking that she did something wrong or being the cause of an issue was the problem, but often times her thoughts were fictitious and did not match reality and the “issues” often had little or nothing to do with her, and she was pissed that she couldn’t control it! Through therapy, she began using the phrase, “The story I’m telling myself is_____.” By asking and stepping back, she could often find the truth and what it had to do with her. The more she examined her thinking, the more she could see the disconnect between narratives that were influencing her insecurities, past experiences etc. Sound familiar? It does to me!
So, let’s make honesty simple by trying a difficult exercise… Ask yourself why you do _______. Then watch yourself throughout the day. What acts do you do without thinking? Could be as little as checking your Facebook 15 times a day. Did you realize that you did that??? What are your habits around food? TV watching? Be honest with yourself. But be gentle. Many bad habits are trying to relieve a hurt—maybe an old one. Be compassionate with yourself. As pain might bubble up, remember that you are taking important steps to healing. Open up to a friendly ear and let it out.
How can we help kids with this? Of course, we should model honesty for them. Others will see you tell a cashier that they accidently gave you too much change or that they forgot to ring something up, and others will also notice when you tell a little white lie to get what you want. Dang it! I’m guilty of that too! Let the young sponges in your lives know that being truthful doesn’t always come naturally, and it’s not easy. Lessons about honesty have to go hand in hand with learning about our short comings and conscious. The flesh is weak but the beauty in it is that God loves each and every one of us no matter what. I’d like to quote Mark Twain again because this humbles me and forgives me all at the same time, “A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar”.
It is normal to tell a lie to get out of trouble, and those moments are teachable moments where you can discuss the discomfort and fear of punishment but the value in honesty. When they are honest, praise them for it. Show them you value that. Try to find the root of the wrong doing, and don’t let it become a can of worms down the road!
A classic children’s story that never seems to get old is The Boy Who Cried Wolf. They love to hear about the naughty little boy. They can see the error in his ways and why people stopped believing in him. What a terrific discussion-opener. Let them talk about times they were tempted to be dishonest. Also talk about the times they were honest and any fear they felt about it.
It’s not as cut and dry as George Washington cutting down his dad’s cherry tree. Honesty is a big topic. No time like the present to examine it in your life and with the kids in your life. Be brave and jump in!