You can try solving your problems by asking your friends, your family or your partner’s opinions. Am I a fun person? Do I drink too much? Am I good enough? Do hats suit me? But are you actually looking for honesty or is it reassurance you’re after? If it’s real personal growth you seek then stop asking everyone else’s opinion. The only person worth asking is you and your most powerful self help tool is honesty.
Honesty will set you free
None of us wants to feel bad so we tell ourselves stories. In these stories we are right and everyone else is wrong. We make up excuses about our powerlessness to change circumstances and engineer reality to fit our limited beliefs. But it’s all in our heads. It’s a fantasy and sooner or later, the truth catches up.
When I gave up alcohol last year it was as though the truth had been suspended in a massive net over my head and in one moment it all came crashing down like a tonne of bricks: I was drinking too much. I had spent a couple of years telling myself that my drinking was no worse than anyone else’s. I was denying the truth. When I finally owned up to my true feelings I was left with no choice but to quit. Clearly I had been avoiding the truth because it came with inconvenient consequences.
But rather than making me feel weak, I proved to myself that I was strong. Knowing I had lost control of a situation by constantly lying to myself about the scale of the issue was the first step on a journey to freedom. The truth shall indeed set you free!
Who do you go to for honest advice?
Think about a problem you need help with. I’m talking about emotional stuff that keeps tripping you up: a bad relationship, career blocks, poor self image or unhealthy habits. If you want to be reassured that you are practically perfect in every way then seek advice from your mum. For directness, go to a sibling (or my mum). For a sugar coated version that has no sharp edges ask your friends.
So, who can we really trust? There is only one person who can give you a no holds barred, straight talking and evidence based answer to your questions about yourself: YOU.
Honestly, you are your most reliable witness
There are literally millions of self help books out there. Some brilliant and some not so much. They can get you a long way down the self help road but you know deep down that the really big ‘aha’ stuff will come from you. You have all the information required to make an informed decision. The only thing you may lack is integrity. Just like a mother, a spiteful sibling or a well meaning friend, you can give yourself all the wrong feedback. Not because you don’t get it but because you don’t want to feel bad.
But being honest with yourself is a lot less painful than you might think. Try it. Search for something that you have been struggling with. Don’t worry, you’re never going to share this stuff with anyone else so you can be completely and utterly shameless.
What have you been fibbing about?
Example 1: Let’s say you dislike someone. Let’s call her Mary-Sue because I don’t know anyone called Mary-Sue. She annoys the hell out of you and you can’t figure out why but you do not like being in the same room as her. What have you told yourself about this so far?
She’s annoying. We just don’t click. She thinks too much of herself.
Orrrr maybe you dislike Mary-Sue because she is more successful than you. Oh that’s a bit awkward!
Example 2: You have gradually put on weight and would like to shift it but you never do any exercise. Well sure, you’re too tired. You’re too busy. Gyms are too expensive. You’re not actually that into your looks anyway.
Orrrrr you have zero faith in yourself to lose weight. It feels safer to not even try than go through the shame of trying and failing, again.
Example 3: Maybe you are a pushy parent. (We all have been at some point but I just don’t have the staying power!) Do you push your child to succeed at school for their own benefit? Or does it have something to do with maintaining your reputation among other parents?
Real self help starts with honesty
Whatever the question, you need to give yourself complete honesty but with kindness and compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for your feelings and thoughts. Lovingly forgive yourself for being human. Acknowledge your fears and anxieties about being honest with yourself. Be mindful of how hard this process can be. It feels great to own up to yourself and then embark on actually doing something about the issue rather than living a lie.
Whatever the issue – relationship, body image, self worth, parenting or career – you are living the issue every day. The only difference between being honest with yourself and not, is choice. When you admit to your real feelings and thoughts you give yourself the choice to act: the choice to do something about the problem rather than burying your head in the sand.
So give yourself a thorough but loving talking to. What fibs have you been telling? What untruths have you been repeating? Get it all out in the open and then congratulate yourself on your honesty. We all tell little lies to ourselves but your most powerful self help tool is honesty.