How Emotionally Honest are You?

by Melissa Karnaze

Honesty isn’t just about telling other people the truth.

Because you can’t tell anyone the truth if you don’t admit it to yourself first.

The foundation for real honesty is self-honesty.

And self-honesty is hard because it’s often uncomfortable.

As it’s no fun to admit, let alone express uneasy feelings.

People bypass self-honesty all the time, and thus honesty with others, by first being dishonest about how they really feel.

That dishonesty may filter into normal conversations, taking the form of:

  • Euphemisms
  • Insincere apologies
  • Sugar coating
  • “Excused” behavior
  • Contradictions
  • Superficial optimism

Masking negative emotions or failing to look into them may lead to a temporary sense of control or diplomacy — but suppression takes its toll.

Ultimately, emotional suppression, denial, avoidance, dissociation — whatever you want to call it — subverts all forms of honesty.

Emotional honesty doesn’t have to be catastrophic

That’s not to say that you have let your emotions “all hang out” in order to fully acknowledge them.

That’s not say that you have to be crude, although crass does come before class.

There are appropriate and safe ways to express your emotions. Only you can figure out what that means, given the uniqueness of each and every situation.

Oftentimes, the only appropriate and safe outlet is solitude, or being close to someone you can trust, like a friend or a therapist.

If you’re lucky, you can find a group of people who can support you in experimenting with news ways of being honest.

If you’re smart, you’ll use powerful social tools, like the internet, to help you become more resourceful and resilient.

The payoff of getting more intimate with your emotions?

First of all, the more you are mindful of your emotions — the less you are susceptible to being unconsciously driven by the “problematic” ones.

What does that lead to?

An infinitely greater capacity to be more logical, constructive, and effective in life, and to genuinely experience positive, or pleasant emotions.

But the stakes are probably against you

You need to make the commitment to be honest with yourself — about how you really think and feel — about everything in your life.

Of course that’s not going to be pretty. Socially acceptable. Or sensible (at least until you can understand the logic of your emotions).

And yes, much of the world will probably be against you. In that — they won’t understand what you’re trying to do because they themselves don’t want to accept how they really think and feel — about everything in their lives. Empathy goes both ways.

The complex social systems of the modern world don’t cater to emotional honesty. To be a part of the system, to survive in the system, you have to develop a pretty thick skin. You have to be “realistic” about life (that’s code for pessimistic). You have to discard empathy, avoid vulnerability or bypass taking things personally — when it makes sense, so that you can get by. Along those lines, you most certainly can’t afford to offend your superiors, and you should try to appease your family and friends.

The social systems of the modern world are at heart codependent. Codependency is a coping mechanism that distracts you from your true feelings.

So yes, the stakes are probably against you…

Emotional honesty in action

But all you need to get started. Is to get started.

You’ll figure out the rest. You’ll create your own subcultures, your own systems. You’ll fashion your world such that it’s easy to see how emotional honesty pays off. You’ll find clever ways to make sure it always pays off.

We’ve been talking about emotional honesty on Mindful Construct for over two years now.

But talk is talk.

Will you walk the talk?

All it takes is getting started.

No one is stopping you but yourself.

Give yourself permission.

Introducing the Mindful Emotions course

If you’d like an extra boost, extra social support, and some clear guidance on becoming more emotionally honest with yourself, and thus more productive, effective, and response able in life, you’ll want to check out Mindful Emotions.

This new interactive, online course is fertile training ground for walking the talk.

Learn more about it here, and I hope to see you there.