We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to find the truth in the areas we know we’re lying to ourselves, and we need to be open to places of unknown self-deceit.
The future you dream of begins with truth.
Without truth, it’s like mapping the route for a critical journey but having no idea where you’re starting from. Logic would suggest this realization would drive us to be rigorously honest with ourselves. Unfortunately, humans aren’t logical. We have a limitless capacity for self-deception.
We tell ourselves that we can eat the extra portion. Our email wasn’t harsh. Other people are too sensitive. I can afford this purchase. I’m not as bad as someone else.
Why do we do this? Why do we find nake reality so repugnant?
The problem isn’t that we reject the truth, it’s that we reject ourselves.
“Just being you isn’t enough.”
You want more than you’re “supposed” to. You don’t like the things others like. You are not up to the standards of “good society.” You are not enough, and those who are not enough are rejected. Rejection means isolations, and no one wins alone. So, I can’t be alone; I can’t be isolated, I can’t be rejected so; therefore, I can’t be honest. But here’s the disaster; without clear-eyed honesty, we never get to be whole.
Our rejection of self-honesty isn’t a question of morality; it’s a drive for self-preservation.
There’s no point in getting to a future you dream of if you can’t go there as you.
So how do we find the courage to bring our whole selves to the part?
Resolve to find the truth
Some areas of self-deception we know we can’t see because we choose to close our eyes. But if we can decide to close them, we can choose to open them. It’s time to get intentional. Open your eyes!
During an integrity workshop, I had a friend describe the search for honesty like this:
In a blacked-out room, nothing looks dirty, and so we feel no shame. A situation or unexpected circumstance rocks our world and knocks a window shade a little and a beam of light streams in illuminating a dirty floor. Hustling around quickly, we clean up the floor and breathe a sigh of relief, safe knowing anyone walking in will see how clean we are. Over time and life, the shade continues going up little by little, revealing more room to be addressed as we grow.
Unfortunately, in most lives, pain is so great and unexpected, the shade snaps all the way open. Humiliated and scared, like a child in the movies, we close our eyes. And some people choose never to reopen them.
We need a starting point. Let’s open our eyes to see what needs our attention.
We need a frame, tools, and friends.
A framework is how we see the world, and it gives us a place to start. I suggest Gallup’s 5 areas of well being. Purpose, Relationships, Finances, Health, Community.
-For each area, ask yourself critical questions.
-What do I know? What do I not know? What feels unforgettable to me and makes me dread finding out?
-Dig up as many specific measures as you can. Objectivity is key. How much precisely is your debt? What exactly is your cholesterol count? When was the last time you had a date night?
-Do all framework research objectively. No judgment.
We need useful tools. The process of developing self-honesty is one of archaeology. A massive dig starts with shovels and picks but then shifts to fine brooms and brushes to clear the dust and debris off the truth. Our struggle isn’t willful blindness to our motivations; they’ve become so masked by people-pleasing, performance, and fear that they’re obscured by layers. You need tools to peel them back.
-Books can be helpful. Development and behavioral therapy books are great tools to upgrade your questions.
-Assessments, Clifton Strengths, Enneagram, or MBTi, and others provide objective language and information to dive below the pretense to our real talent and preferences.
-Therapy. Always a good idea.
-Journaling exercises provide a safe space to break it all down.
Last and most important, we need friends.
You can’t clean up in the dark alone. Someone needs to hold the light or the dustpan. These aren’t casual relationships. These are people who are practicing hunting for truth too. They’ve pushed past their shame and have realized we all have a mess, and so mess can’t hurt us.
-Places of faith and worship (watch out of shame and honor cultures)
-Take a risk and share this new truth project with a friend and invite them to love you on the way. I dare you to share this email with a friend as in invitation to a support relationship!
We lose years crafting plans that fail before they start. Not because they’re faulty or unworthy, they’re just not starting from reality. Let’s get honest. Let’s take hold of our truth. Let’s integrate all the parts of ourselves, flaws, and all. Once we do that, we will have all we need to get where we are going.