I’m reading a book at the moment called Radical Honesty.* When I showed Boyfriend he snorted a bit and said ‘as if you need that!’
He’s probably right – I do have a tendency to just say what I think, even if it’s a little brutal – but it’s interesting all the same.
The idea behind the book is that our lack of honesty is at the root of pretty much all our stress. This doesn’t just necessarily mean actively telling lies – leading a double life or pretending you have a job but actually just sitting in the park – it includes keeping feelings and thoughts hidden, for fear of how other people will react.
The author, who is a physcotherapist, says that most of the people he sees are stuck in this adolescent state of living their lives according to how they think other people think they should be living them. The stress comes from this fear of judgement, from trying to maintain a persona that you believe to be socially acceptable, and from not being open and honest about your true feelings.
It makes sense doesn’t it?
Think about a source of stress in your life. Maybe it’s work. Why is it stressful? Because you’re afraid that your boss will realise you don’t know what you’re doing? Because you put yourself under pressure to earn as much as your friends? Because you worry that your colleagues don’t like you?
All of these things boil down to typical teenage anxieties don’t they? They are all about not being honest.
What about if you went into work and just said to your boss ‘look, I feel really unsure about how well I’m managing this piece of work, can you give me some feedback or guidance?’
Or how about if you were just honest with yourself and your friends, and admitted that actually money just doesn’t matter as much to you, and that you were going to judge yourself by your own standards?**
I find it fascinating to think about honesty in terms not of the active lies we tell, but of the thoughts and feelings we keep hidden. Wouldn’t life be much more straightforward if you never had to worry about what you said and could just be yourself all the time?
How honest are you?
*I am about five pages in to Chapter One. To be honest (see what I did there?) this is probably as far as I get. I am honest, but flighty.
**Don’t forget I’ve hardly read any of the book. This is all pure speculation on my part as to what the book would ACTUALLY tell you to do.