The Honesty Policy
Honesty is our best attempt at representing and communicating the truth, whatever that is. In our society it can be understood in one of two ways, through verifiable evidence or through trust. The way in which it is understood depends upon your relationship with another person. If they are a stranger, you rely more on verifiable evidence. If they are a dear friend who has displayed a track record of presenting valuable, and factual information, trust is the currency of choice for the exchange. This interaction exists on a gradient ranging from strictly evidence (or complete lack of trust) to strictly trust (or complete lack of evidence).
This understanding of honesty raises yet another question in response to how we think about our lives: What kind of relationship do you have with yourself? Can you trust your own representation of reality and fact? What is your track record?
The problem with honesty in dealing with the self is that it is too easy to tell yourself a lie and believe it as the truth. There is no one there to tell you that you are wrong. You know that friend who was in that really long relationship with that one guy, who was kind of a douchebag, and just so happened to break up with her. The emotion that came out of that experience colors the thought patterns that take place within her mind. She might say something like: “All guys are jerks.” or “All the good guys are taken.”
If these feelings are strong enough, they compel us to close off opportunities before they start, break off what could be otherwise fruitful relationships, and act in ways that some people might describe as being closed-minded.
What to do
One question that I struggle with is: how do I know that I’m being honest? How can I trust myself?
For me, the answer has been to look outside myself for verification.
I ask myself the following: What data out there supports my current opinion? What refutes it? Sometimes there isn’t data out there, and then I go about the business of collecting it. Once you have that data, you will have a much more accurate and clear view of your reality. Things might not be as bad as they seem, or they could be much much worse.
In other instances, I ask a trusted friend for their opinion. In these instances, I don’t just ask anyone. Not everyone understands your situation, and doesn’t necessarily know the complexities involved. Go to someone who has been there and done it before, and came out on the other side better than they were when they entered the situation. Sometimes, I even pay for the advice, to make sure that it is accurate, and dependable information.
No matter what process you use, focus on getting the most accurate picture of reality before making choices. Sometimes the “surprise” that caught you off guard, may have been staring you straight in the face and you didn’t even know it.