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Being Honest and True in a Fake World

Updated on November 3, 2016

Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.

— Rick Warren

Shock and awe!

Was Donald Trump too transparent? Yes, for the current social climate. We've become accustomed to people putting their best foot forward. We think what he showed us was his best. I think it was just him- plain and simple.

We're taken aback by brutal honesty or unrestrained candor. We've become accustomed to fake politicians, fake people, and everyone attached to an online persona.

This isn't a political post, it's a post on whether we're genuine in our lives and how it affects us when we stray from authenticity.

Speak the truth or pose nude?

I'm no artist, but it never stopped me from wondering two things: What it would be like to pose nude for a drawing class and what it would be like to seriously (without cackling out loud every 4 seconds) draw a nude model.

Give me a break! I've done neither, but I have a lot of thoughts running through my head all day - I never said all of them were constructive.

Not even ten years ago though, if you asked me to be 100% honest with people or pose nude I'd pick the latter. I probably would've picked the latter if you gave me a candy bar (Reese's), but my point is it's tough being truly honest in our social circles and especially with ourselves.

Besides, instead of baring it all, I can dress accordingly for that extra ten pounds AND indulge in a Reese's. But I can't navigate life very well if I'm piling on the lies.

Most of us would rather shove the truth where the sun don't shine and call it a day.

Just this morning I spoke with a neighbor friend who says her son's cell phone was stolen on the bus. She tracked it- she knows who did it. The kid finally admitted it at school to her son, but he now says he doesn't have it anymore even though tracking says it hasn't moved from his location. More lies.

My neighbor friend had a casual conversation with the mother of the thief at the bus stop today, but did not mention the stolen phone. I asked her why and she reports hating confrontation.

Honesty is associated with confrontation.

Why is that? It's not because truth or honesty is bad. It's because we've learned it holds less social rewards than lying. We lie and we're liked more. We lie because it's easier. It seems there's little payoff in being honest.

At work for instance, studies included in a recent Harvard Business Review article suggest that work performance is steadily decreasing. People are seeking others who reaffirm their positive qualities rather than give them careful (or honest) critique. If this is weighing down work performance, you can imagine what it's doing for personal performance like your marriage, your friendships, and family.

Being aware of your weaknesses and shortcomings — whether you like it or not — is critical to your improvement. The message is clear: If you are serious about sure to develop relationships with people who are willing to give you that tough feedback."

— Francesca Gino, Harvard Professor

The socially acceptable way of being honest

Is there a socially acceptable way of being honest?

I'm not sure, but lying seems to be totally acceptable. I can't stand when people say, 'Hey let's get together sometime' and they never do. We don't hear from them again. What's the point?

On an "off" chance you want to be a genuine individual in a fake world, the following advice is your best shot!

1. Be kind and clear. You don't have to be a meanie to be honest.

For instance, I find what works best is to be honest with tact- in a way that balances both positive and negative. People think being honest means brining up all the negatives and injustices, but that's not the case. It also means we get to highlight the positives too...and actually mean it!

My friend (in the scenario I provided earlier) could say to the other mother, "My son thinks of your son as a friend (positive), but I thought you would like to know (sounds like a favor) that your son has admitted having the phone in his possession (facts). I'm not sure how this happened (non-accusatory. Let the mother deal with it), but our only goal is to get it back (desired result). Can we (make it a team effort) make that happen?"

Honesty is a shocker for some people. Don't expect everyone to be on board no matter how tactfully you put it into perspective. We live in a society of sensitive egos, narcissism, and political correctness.

2. Forethought is productive honesty.

Imagine what you want. What is the purpose for being honest in any particular scenario? If you have a desired result in mind, keep it in mind so you don't get side-tracked by emotions that arise or off-topic derailing.

Assertiveness requires being forthright about your wants and needs while still considering the fact that you might not get what you want. When people feel they must win, it can be perceived as being aggressive.

The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, attributes his successful outcomes with troubled dogs to something he calls "Calm Assertive" energy. It's using imagination ahead of time to realize the way you'd like a scenario to e played out ideally.

3. Honesty gets easier with practice.

Some of us get stuck in a moment similar to a brain fart and we forget what we want and need or how to say NO. We fall victim to being caught off guard. If this gets in your way and we get tongue-tied, ask for some time to consider whatever it is the person has said or how they've reacted.

If you know you'll be confronted by something in particular, practice ahead of time what you will say and how you will react. It takes time to be honest and it will be uncomfortable at first. Sometimes it requires just speaking your truth in a narrative way. Pretend you're the best narrator, Morgan Freeman. This is a documentary and you have no emotional connection to the subject. Speak your truth.

The truth about honesty

The truth about honesty:

Initially, people may be caught off guard. Avoid you? Perhaps. Think you're crazy? A little. Everybody expects people to put forth their "front", fake self first. If they believe your honest self is your best front, they might get wary of your presence.

Not to worry- If 2,000 people are lying and only 1 person is telling the truth then that 1 person is going to stand taller than anyone. That one person could be you.

Eventually, people will be drawn to you because you're honest. They will trust you. You will stand out to them.

Essentially, you're telling them what they already know. People know the truth, but they need more sunshine to shine the light on it. Lies are hidden until they become a dark part of us. If enough people shine the light on them we'll be forced to deal (and feel the freedom that comes with that).

Personally, I come across people who won't hear anything but a lie and those are the most dangerous people to be around. Be wary of individuals who steal your truth and seal your authenticity.

My neighbor friend said she was knew the other mother would not believe her or dismiss her son's theft as an innocent misunderstanding. I call this enabling because I'll bet you the mother knows- she just has way too many people in her life willing to sugarcoat and play along with the lies, doing no favor to her or her son. Deep down she knows and she needs someone who will say it out loud.

I may have never posed nude for an art class, but in all honesty I got a lot more out of the Assertiveness class I took instead. Here's to all your honest endeavors...

Every Violation of Truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but a stab at the health of human society

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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