Your friend just lied to you. You’re immediately upset and can’t understand why they don’t trust you enough to just tell you the truth. So why is it that we are okay with lying to ourselves?
This is a question I’ve struggled with personally for decades. While living in a world wearing rose-colored glasses definitely has its appeal, I’m learning that not being honest with yourself comes at the cost of living up to your full potential. And if we shy away from the truth, we miss out on the chance to learn and grow.
If you’re ready to start being honest with yourself, then reading this article will give you clear steps for how you can embrace your truth.
- Why you should be honest with yourself
- Dishonesty with yourself comes at a cost
- 5 ways to start being honest with yourself
- Wrapping up
This article is part of a much bigger guide on learning how to become happy that I’m sure is the biggest freely available guide on the internet right now. This article contains some great tips, but you’ll find a lot more actionable tips in the section Happiness Tips!
Why you should be honest with yourself
I read that statement and think to myself, “This really isn’t a question we should have to ask.”. But I’m human. And I like it when science can persuade me to do the things I know I should be doing.
Researchers found that individuals who prioritized honesty and integrity had healthier and longer lifespans. They also discovered that these two factors were predictors of your mental and physical well-being.
If improved health isn’t enough to convince you to be honest with yourself, you may also be curious to know that research indicates honesty with oneself is related to a greater sense of fulfillment in an individual’s career.
If being honest with ourselves results in a longer life where we enjoy our work, then it becomes awfully hard to build a case for continuing to remain dishonest.
Dishonesty with yourself comes at a cost
So we know that being honest has a whole slew of benefits, but what did researchers actually find when it comes to the effects of dishonesty?
A study in 2015 demonstrated that dishonesty results in increased cortisol reactivity. And consequently, your blood pressure and heart rate will increase. This can negatively impact your overall health, especially if you are living in a state of consistent dishonesty that chronically elevates these vital signs.
Beyond science, all I have to do is recall the times I have not been honest with myself and remember how that made me feel. Being dishonest with yourself simply does not feel good.
I have lost sleep. I have thrown up and broken out in hives. All because I simply would not face my truth.
The cost of dishonesty with yourself is far too high. And with inflation increasing, the last thing I’m looking to do is add another expense to my list.
5 ways to start being honest with yourself
When we create habitual thought patterns, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to break the cycle. So let’s dive in and give you some guidance on how you can start to live in a state of full transparency with yourself.
1. Stop putting off dreams until tomorrow
Perhaps the biggest lie I have told myself over and over again is that I am not worthy of my dreams. The second biggest lie is that “I can always start to chase that dream tomorrow”.
In my life, I have become far too accustomed to that little voice in my head that keeps me from really “going for it”. I come up with excuse after excuse for not pursuing my dreams.
It took me 5 years before I was comfortable to share my writing publicly with others. I told myself lies like, “You’re not good enough”. “No one wants to read what you have to write”.
But once I got honest with myself, I realized that these weren’t my actual fears. What I was really afraid of was writing a piece and having someone close to me find it laughable. I was afraid of being made fun of for pursuing my creative craft.
That was 5 years of my life that I didn’t pursue my passion because I wasn’t honest with myself. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Be honest about what’s holding you back and start chasing that dream now.
2. Own up to your mistakes
Now this one stings. Just reading that subtitle makes me slightly uncomfortable.
But living an authentic life means taking responsibility for the good and the bad that you do. If you avoid the truth and act as though you did nothing, this often places you in a worse position than if you had owned up to your mistake.
I remember I was deathly afraid of owning up to a mistake I made at work. I literally lost sleep over this mistake and kept telling myself that it was better to just let time do its thing instead of admitting it was my fault.
Many sleep-deprived nights later, I finally made the decision that I had to tell my boss about my slip-up. And guess what? My boss was insanely kind and understanding about the whole thing.
Here I was consuming excessive amounts of caffeine to make up for a lack of sleep over not owning up to a mistake that my boss didn’t even flinch at. While I know not every situation will end up with this happy ending, I can attest to the relief that comes with being honest and owning your mistakes.
3. Don’t shrug off your feelings
Yes, we are going to talk about your feelings. Because in today’s society of half-hearted “I’m fine” answers, the least we can do is actually be honest with ourselves about our feelings.
When you constantly avoid how you are feeling, the feeling only amplifies. This is because your emotions are designed to be action signals.
So if you ignore the signal over and over again, eventually it will get so loud that you have to listen. And this is when you can experience a full-on nervous breakdown or panic attack if you’re me.
Trust me on this one, being honest and admitting what you’re feeling is the first step to starting to change that emotion to one you actually want to be feeling. So instead of stuffing your feelings deep down, have the courage to honestly face them and listen to what they want to tell you.
4. Realize you don’t know everything (and that’s okay)
I had to take my know-it-all hat off and put it in the closet for this one. I’m only half-joking.
Sometimes we are not being honest with ourselves about what we don’t know. And this is when imposter syndrome can really start to creep in.
But what is not talked about is the power that can come from admitting that you don’t know it all. Embracing a growth mindset typically causes more people to be drawn to you and want to engage with what you have to offer because they know you’re not trying to schmooze them over.
When I was first starting to practice as a PT, I thought I had to appear flawlessly confident and have all the answers for the patient in front of me. Through trial and error, I learned that being honest with both myself and my patient about what I did not know actually fostered a better relationship between us.
When we were able to grow together and find answers together, they understood that I was really invested in their care. So maybe it’s time that we put the know-it-all cap in storage. Or better yet, throw it away.
5. Find a loved one to give you honest feedback
If you really can’t seem to find a way to be honest with yourself, then it’s time to find a trusted loved one to tell you how it really is. This means you need someone who is not afraid to “hurt your feelings” and cares enough to be authentically raw with their feedback.
This one can be tough to implement. Remember that story about me not wanting to share my writing publicly? Well, let me tell you another piece of the story.
After realizing that I was really afraid of people making fun of me for my writing, I still didn’t have the full courage to just jump in. I asked my best friend to give me truthful feedback about what I should do.
She prefaced her feedback with an, “Are you sure you really want to know?” statement. At that point, I knew I needed to brace myself for what came next.
She told me that I was wasting away my life if I wasn’t going after what really inspires me. She said being afraid of what others think is the lamest excuse on planet earth for not pursuing something you love.
And that did it. I got honest with myself and started sharing my writing.
It’s time to tell the truth. Not just to others, but to the person you’re stuck with for life: yourself. While starting to be honest with yourself can be a bit brutal at first, the limitless possibilities that come from pursuing your most authentic self are well worth the initial discomfort. And as cliché as it may sound, I know you will find that the truth really does set you free.
Are you completely honest with yourself? Or do you find it hard to live authentically and face the truth at all times? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!