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There is Power in Honesty

There is Power In Honesty by Miki Jo Resto

As a child, I was taught to be honest. I was told – and it was modeled for me – that a good person is always honest, unless that honesty might hurt someone’s feelings (in which case you should say nothing at all). I have never been one to say nothing at all.

So, when I was young, I would tell partial truths or little white lies. I did it so often to avoid the possibility of ever hurting anyone, it became natural to me. And, as it became my way of thinking, I settled into the habit of telling myself partial truths and white lies.

I did it so often, I stopped noticing. I wasn’t hurting anyone, was I? After all, I had learned it was better to be nice than to be honest. Yet, even as a child, I was left feeling unsettled and would wonder, “Am I a good person?” I wasn’t sure, I just knew I wanted to be. And that counts, right? So I felt better, but I didn’t feel strong. I felt doubtful.

That brings me to today, as I watch and listen to the many reactions throughout these months of dealing with COVID-19 and following the Black Lives Matter movement. I observe so many of us examining the question: “Am I a good person?” (Am I doing all the right things to protect and help? Am I standing up for what’s right?) I am guessing that most of us think of ourselves as “a good person” because we want to be. I repeat, that counts right? Perhaps. Though, the question beneath the question may be something more like, “Am I truly the person I think myself to be?” To discover that answer, one may need to explore a deeper sense of what is honest.

On the surface, it seems like the definition of honesty should be simple. Positive psychologists say that being honest is authenticity and being true to oneself. In action, that looks like being sincere (in word and deed) without pretense. You already know that definition.

Do you know, though, that being true to oneself is associated with emotional stability? To discover and experience your authentic truth, to know your own mind, is related to internal stability. One that you nurture and bring into being for yourself. No one and no thing can do it for you – not a relationship, job title, a COVID-19 free world or total justice. Yes, of course, all of these contribute to a sense of safety in our personal world. Safety is not quite the same thing as inner stability, though. (It may seem like the two would always be connected. However, safety and emotional stability can exist independent of one another.)

If positive psychology is correct and emotional stability is part of the foundation for deeper honesty, then can being honest increase inner stability? I will offer a bold “Yes.” (It is worth pointing out, here, that positive psychology is not focused on happiness. Rather, it’s a credible area of scientific research that focuses on how functional people create a more satisfying life with greater well-being. Some might call it the path to self-actualization.)

Core truth is the bedrock for your passions, purpose and life. Is it time to dive deeper? The questions I’ve been asking myself lately include: “How honest am I being with myself about myself? Is my life and how I live it aligned with my core truths? Am I truly the person I think myself to be?”

Clear and unequivocal honesty is a power you give yourself – a power that moves truth into action.

I learned long ago that those partial truths and white lies I leaned on during my growing-up years weakened my confidence, made me doubtful and etched away at my innate ability to trust. I still notice that anytime I avoid an inner truth I don’t feel as strong inside as I could, as whole or totally intact. My inner stability weakens, in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

The science of epigenetics* has helped me understand that self-doubt, weakened confidence and distrust effects my emotional and physical health.

Honesty is powerful. Deeper honesty, by itself, can help you grow greater inner stability. Honesty with compassion, creates connection between the head and the heart which can contribute to emotional health.

There is something even greater, though. Honesty paired with 360-degree compassion can instigate even greater well-being and deliver a transcendent experience. Not the type of transcendence that will always make you feel good, or even positive. Rather, the kind of transcendence that gifts you with a whole new perspective. (This kind of shift directly effects how your body is functioning and even cellular function.)

What is 360-degree compassion? Just like honesty, it is a simple concept. Imagine that you are the other person in any scenario. Can you imagine and put yourself in the shoes of the victim, the wrongdoer and the witness? Can you imagine what kind of lives they have and why they behave the way they do?  This is an exercise in perspective, balance and even greater honesty. This is a mental exercise that can deliver greater well-being and health, particularly in difficult and challenging times.

* Epigenetics, simply put, is the science of how our mind-body-brain responds to our thoughts, what we eat, plus our internal and external environments. Epigenetics (and many other sciences) shows that the things we think and do day-to-day for our business and life causes a great deal of our stress and how our genes express health or disease.

© 2020 Miki Jo Resto. All Rights Reserved.

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