A Short Course In How To Be Honest With Yourself

By Maureen McKane, LCSW

Everyone self deceives. Calm comes with seeking the truth. Here is how to be honest with yourself.

Of the people I most admire most have been my clients. I call them brave and they look surprised. It is the bravery of emotional honesty, I tell them. These people learned one way or another that being honest with yourself is the only way to peace of mind. Honesty is risky and they take the risks.

We are all sometime liars. “I am not yelling!” “I did nothing wrong and look what you did!” My 3 year old son sat frozen in the bathtub. A thin line of blood dribbled from his finger into the water and onto Mommy’s safety razor (Yes, my screw-up. I admit it.) “No, no!” he said, head shaking. He had not touched that thing.

Denial is the easy way out of getting into trouble, yet it is not easy at all. How much relief there is when you can admit you are just as vulnerable as all the rest of us. I can’t believe I said such a stupid remark! But I did. Surprisingly, life continues on.

  1. When negative emotions arise, whether fear, anger, jealousy, embarrassment, stop and consult your own good sense.
  2. Keep your own counsel. Do not rush to toss all those emotions like a football at the nearest person.
  3. Find enough quiet inside yourself to ask the question, what is it that really is upsetting me? Ego aside, what is it?
  4. Each time your ego speaks, remember it provides excuses, not reasons.
  5. Once you find the real reason and know it to be true, something changes inside. Notice that sensation. This is what honesty feels like. Whether it is a pleasant or an unpleasant truth doesn’t matter. It is true. The internal argument stops.
  6. Now you can decide what to do with the truth. Sometimes you are ready to take another step. Sometimes you want to just sit with it. Honesty gives you choices that fighting yourself takes away.

To be emotionally honest is to be humble. Humble means knowing in your heart that you are no worse and no better than anyone around you. Take the time to ponder and use these steps the next time you feel the surge of negative emotion. You may find you want more of the calm seas of naked truth.