Learning to be Honest

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”

-Thomas Jefferson

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Honesty is the best policy so the saying goes. And yet, is it?

Well, not always, right? I mean we all have a whole laundry list of social customs in which honesty is not the central focus. Be honest, but only if it’s nice, doesn’t cause worry, isn’t potentially offensive…

So tell the truth, sort of.

It’s a habit and custom instilled since childhood. It’s also a serious handicap to anyone who is struggling with disability (or anything). Nice answers often don’t reflect the truth. But they also often don’t get you what you need.

How are you?

Now we all know the answer to that question is expected to fall somewhere between good and not bad. No one wants a laundry list of our woes. (Nor a diatribe about the glories of our life.) But good and not bad often don’t accurately describe how someone who is battling life feels.

More importantly, answering this question dishonestly fails to let those around you know you need help. Or why you are in a shit mood. Or that you might need an ear to listen. Or a shoulder to lean on. We all need that from time to time. So why lie? Honesty really is the best policy.

So I am learning to be more honest. I am learning to admit when I am having a bad day. I won’t likely ever be the sort to tell anyone all my current woes…but I am learning to at least say today is not an easy day.

Making that shift, from always saying I’m good or ok, to admitting I feel kind of like a bag of grinding bones today has helped me and those around me. It helps me because I get the offers of help I need but am unlikely to ask for. (What can I say, stubborn should be my middle name.)

It helps the people around me, the people I love, to understand why I’m behaving like I am. Maybe I’m cranky, or seem uninterested in what we are doing, or bailed on plans we made. Being honest means they know, it’s not them, it’s me.

Being honest with others is also helping me to be more honest with myself. Being honest with myself means allowing myself to say no when I need to. Resting when I need rest. Treating myself with the same love and understanding that those around me project.

And honesty that brings love and understanding? Well that just might be the most empowering honesty of all.

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