Honesty

I’m currently working on a post exploring how you can tell if Brigid is calling you, but that’s taking a while to percolate. And in the meantime, “honesty” came up as a topic to explore. I’m hoping this will take a bit less time than the call post to be honest, but we’ll see how it goes.

A few years ago, being honest became very important to me. I had just done some work on how I want to be seen in this world and honest was high up on the list, as was someone who can be trusted. Now, the “trust” aspect I may have to address elsewhere, but the “honest” one I’ll address here.

I started off by looking at myself in the mirror and examining what I thought about my life. In many ways, I was living a very dishonest life. I was working for a place that I didn’t approve of, I was dealing with people on a daily basis who had very different opinions and views on world than I did, I was pretending major parts of myself didn’t exist. I was working for managers that didn’t tie in with what I thought ethical management was about.

So, I started exploring what I would like life to be. I started job searches that, yeah, ok, still included companies that I didn’t feel aligned with my values and principles, but were better than the ones I was currently looking for. I did some therapy on my past and admitted to myself that many major moves in my life, I viewed as a chance to start over and forget the person that existed in me previously. Assimilating all that was difficult.

These days with other people, I’m pretty honest. Other than answering “I’m grand” when I’m blatantly not, I mostly tell the truth. (OK there are occasions when I answer “yeah, we’re working on that right now” when we really weren’t up until the question was asked, but hey, I’m an engineer…)

Where I find it most difficult to be honest, is with myself. When I look at some of what’s happening in the world today, admitting to myself how this makes me feel, what emotions, thoughts and feelings are coming up for me, how I initially react versus how I think I should react… all these things are difficult. On less weighty matters as well -when my husband does something that really annoys or upsets me and I try to brush it under the carpet, swallowing down my feelings instead of addressing them, even if only to myself.

Admitting how I truly feel is a big deal to me. For much of my life there were only certain feelings that were acceptable and it’s taking a long long time to educate and practice my way out of that mindset. Equally, I’m conscious that I want to be viewed a certain way by this world and don’t want to be attacked for my views – sometimes this makes it harder to voice those views and opinions, even among family and friends.

But honesty, like charity, starts at home. And I am not living an honest life, if I don’t be honest with myself. You know all those films where the protagonist has to go through a series of trials and then in the last trial, they have to face themselves? Well there’s a reason for that. Sometimes ourselves can be our hardest critics, enemies, etc. Being able to look at ourselves in the mirror is a gift that is probably hugely underrated. Being able to look at ourselves in the mirror and like what we see – even more so.

I know I am still not being 100% honest with myself about certain areas of my life. There I things I wish were different, but are not so easy to change, so I try to persuade myself I am happy as they are. I’ve mastered the ability to be honest in work, even when the outcome of that honesty is less than pleasant, but I’ve not mastered the same ability in my own head.

So it’s a work in progress and it’s probably some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. But it’s important. Brigid doesn’t ask us to stay the same forever – in fact she asks the opposite. Yes, there might be years or decades when growth might be measured in millimetres, but that’s ok, as long as there’s growth. Lack of change leads to stagnation. None of us (I hope!) would be completely happy to still be the person we were 10 yrs ago, or 5 yrs ago, although there may be aspects of those people that are still very valuable.

Brigid wields the hammer but she expects us to do a lot of the work ourselves. Cos if she has to do the work, it gets a lot less pleasant. Here’s an exercise to try: look into a mirror. See how long you can last, just looking at yourself. What thoughts come up for you? What feelings and emotions come up for you? How long can you look at yourself? Spend a few mins recording what comes up as well – this may not be as easy as you think. And remember to think of good things as well as areas for improvement. Now what do you want to do about that? How honest can you be with just yourself as judge and jury?

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