Many of us struggle with telling the whole truth. We may well manage to be mostly honest, most of the time, but that doesn’t quite cut it.
There are several different layers which explain why we may struggle with honesty.
Firstly, if we do not take time to reflect on what is going on internally, we may not actually know. Some people do seem to operate happily out of a mixture of projection and self-righteousness. It is hard to be honest if you don’t bother to ask yourself what you are doing. If you have made it this far into this post – you are probably reasonably reflective. But you may still have a few blind spots where this is your modus operandi.
At a slightly deeper level, we may be able to reflect and see the truth (as we understand it!!) but speaking that truth feels too threatening. Normally when this happens we find great justifications for why we are approaching things in a less than honest manner. It is usually some kind of self-protection, but we will often blame others for forcing our behaviour.
Then there is the level at which being honest may well initiate some kind of change which may impact us negatively. This is the level at which the phrase ‘the truth shall set you free’ is most often misused. Telling the truth will increase your interior freedom – it will silence the voices of fear. But telling the truth may precipitate an undesirable change.
I have been thinking a great deal about the importance of honesty. This year there have been a couple of occasions where I have failed in this regard. Where I have understood my internal state, and yet, for fear of an unwanted outcome, I misrepresented myself. I know myself well enough to understand some of the motivating factors, but even this understanding can be insufficient to speak the truth.
Of course I must quickly add that I do think that it is important to examine our motivations. Truth must always be tempered with compassion. Truth telling can be a vehicle of grace, but only if it is grounded in compassion rather than self-righteousness. It is hard to convey the nuance I wish to in a short post. There are times when silence is more appropriate.
I firmly believe that honesty is the crucial entry point to real interior freedom. And yet I know that there are certain very particular areas or situations where I have failed to be honest. Why is that?
If I truly believe in the centrality of honesty in my spiritual journey, why do I sometimes sacrifice honesty? Mostly I will tell myself it is self-protection, but I wonder how I good I am at distinguishing self-protection and self-interest. Too often I have dressed up my self-interest as self-protection and in so-doing sacrificed my very being.