Practicing Honesty

I should start with why I became inactive for a few weeks. Well, Covid hit! About 4 weeks ago I developed symptoms that worsened overnight into the worst sickness experience I’ve ever had. And I fell into it with all the possible shots you could have. I had a horrible week following by ongoing fatigue that’s still with me after weeks. It was rough and with lots of guilt over abandoning my engagement with the blogging world. But now I am feeling well enough to get back to it, probably with shorter posts. Fatigue is still there but I have a couple of hours before it kicks in. So let’s dive in.

The topic that has been in my mind over the past few weeks is honesty. It’s an area I can improve a lot. What really concerned me this time was exploring the difference between being honest and practicing honesty.

I always identified myself as an honest person. I was always honest about my past and things I do but not so much about how I really feel. I just didn’t know how to do that. I also had a hard time being really honest about my needs or minor annoyances in intimate relationship. Things would pile up and I’d explode. So all of this is about being honest, which I see as clarity in communication, or communicating what’s really going on.

To be honest is to be transparent in communication

Becoming better at communicating my inside to the outside world is great; but is that the whole story? I don’t believe so. I have come to realize that honesty can operate at a higher level too, a level in which honesty is not just about communication but rather practice of acceptance and compassion.

We can be honest with ourselves most of the time. We know what we are doing and whether it’s right or wrong (based on our own definitions); we may not change anything about it, but we know! Changing our behavior to be in alignment with our truth is where we go beyond just being honest and choose to practice honesty. For example, I know I should eat healthy and that it’s not good for me to hold to my current diet. This is honesty at a very basic level of recognition. But then I postpone changes for a variety of reasons; this means I am not practicing honesty; I am not living by what I admit to be true.

Practicing honesty in our relationship with others is somewhat similar, and that’s really what I want to focus on. When I am honest with my vulnerabilities, I have trusted that there’s some level of acceptance and compassion on the other’s side. But, am I able to provide the same level of acceptance and compassion in the face of my partner’s vulnerabilities? If in my self-honesty I can admit that I have flaws or imperfections, then am I as open and accepting toward the other’s imperfections? This is what the practice of honesty comes down to: Recognizing that if I admit I have imperfections, then I can’t expect perfection from others. It’s very simple and even a cliché, but we often fall short of it, especially when we are in the midst of judging and accusing others.

Practicing honesty is to be cognizant of our own imperfections when we are treating others

We can easily and in all honesty admit that we are imperfect, and that perfection is perhaps not even achievable for human beings. But in treating others, we often put them down for this very same human trait. I am sure that we are shaming someone, we haven’t really changed our minds about imperfection being part of the human package. It’s just that we are not practicing what we admitted to ourselves. Being honest isn’t enough; we must also practice it. Two aspects of this practice is acceptance and compassion.

It is also important to be openminded in our practice of honesty. What happens in my case quite often when I try to practice honesty and be accepting of other’s imperfections, is that I pick and choose people’s imperfections: if it’s something I have, then it’s much easier for me to accept yours too. But god forbid, you fall short in areas I am strong, then I’ll have a very hard time letting it go. And this is even worse if I’ve been myself a victim of those same shortcomings in the past (it should be the exact opposite since I should be able to sympathize with you!) Then I think since I have improved in those areas, then you should to; or that you should listen to my advice and follow it to the letter because I’ve figured it out. As if your imperfections must follow the same timeline as mine! That’s selfish and insane. Basically, I decide which imperfections are acceptable and which aren’t! But I am not practicing honesty here because I know for a fact that we human have different journeys. I myself could never predict the unfolding of my strengths and shortcomings, let alone setting up a timeline for them.

So, to take the practice of honesty to an even higher level, I can be less selective and recognize that people have their own process. It’s more noble to give people time with their imperfections and let them learn from their experiences. I can do that in two ways: first, scanning my own past experiences with my imperfections and sympathize with people’s struggles. Second, recognizing that what I may designate as an imperfection, might be a blessing in someone’s life; maybe there’s a lesson in there for them that my judgmental intrusions is interrupting. Who am I to decide what’s imperfection and how long it should last in your life! So, what can I do? Stick to and clean my side of the street. To remember that my own life is littered with imperfections that the other person doesn’t have or even know about, and that my job is to own my behavior and take responsibility for it instead of abandoning myself and making your life my business.

To get better at this I can ask myself: what can I do to practice honesty in my life? Not even as a long term commitment, but just for today. Can I catch myself in an interaction today where I can let go and be more accepting and compassionate, remembering that I have been there at some point, and perhaps I am there now with respect to my own deficiencies.

This post was more of a note to myself, a way of articulating what I need to do to put my “award winning” honesty into practice and enhance the quality of my relationship with the world. So, I have some ideas in mind for today and hope you got something from it too. Stay safe and healthy my friends.


4 thoughts on “Practicing Honesty

  1. Narayana namaskaram.
    Yes we have our own journey. Almost all scripture which advocates karma & effect stipulate timeline of journey to moksha(enlightenment)
    Honesty as expressed by you is a catalyst in speeding the process of moksha.
    Your explanation citing your own life is direct sample of honesty in other words truth.
    Here in India honest sanyasis say that they lecture not for audience but they use the platform for reminding themselves again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

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