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Creating Fertile Soil for Honesty

  • 5 min read

Are you also disgusted by the way some people can lie to your face without so much as blinking an eye?

Do you sometimes wonder if there’s anyone left in your life you can still trust?

I know how that feels.  Wondering how some people can still look themselves in the mirror literally used to keep me awake at night.

But I’m also a firm believer in assuming as much responsibility for anything in your life as you can.  The way I see it, it’s better to believe you are partially responsible for a bit more than you actually are than to deem yourself a helpless victim of circumstances.

Because when it comes to what it does for your happiness and general effectiveness in life, the first belief is by far the most empowering of the two.

For that reason, I think it’s always beneficial to ask yourself in what way you could be responsible for creating whatever part of your reality you currently dislike.

Of course, the more you dislike something, the harder your ego will try to convince yourself that in “this exceptional case”, it’s 0% your fault.

Keep digging though.  Because you’ll always find something.

In the case of people not being entirely honest, especially in relationships, you might conclude that you cannot find anything.  That you simply had the bad luck of getting involved with someone who couldn’t be honest once again.

These days the people in my life always open up to me about uncomfortable situations.  When they feel they’ve done something that could hurt me for example.  Or when they have to speak their mind about something they don’t like about me.  This is a major contrast to what it was like ten years ago.

Up until now, I had always attributed that to the fact that I now consciously choose to surround myself with more honest people.  But today someone told me something I had been completely blind for.

She told me one of the things she was most grateful for in our relationship was that there was the possibility for open communication.

I didn’t even understand what she meant at first.  I thought “Well isn’t that possibility always there?  With every single person on earth, as long as you choose to?”.  But apparently, it had never been there with any other person in her life.

It took me a while to figure out what I do differently from other people (or my former self) in that area.  But with a little help from her, we figured it out:

We all want people to be honest to us.  To hide nothing from us.  But how many of us actually create a climate in our relationships or friendships that promotes such behavior?

Being open about uncomfortable subjects, feelings & situations always means making yourself vulnerable.  It’s not a fun, nor an easy thing to do.  Even when it is the right thing.  So if you want people to continue to take such risks for you, that means you better reward them for doing so.  Or at least make them feel that they are 100% safe to do so in your relationships, regardless of what it is they’ll confess.

When someone comes clean about something they did to you that you may not like, do you seek to understand them first?  Or do you generally start yelling at them before they’re even finished talking?

Because if you do, that’s a great way to get them to shut up forever.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have personal boundaries and that you should just let people walk all over you.  But at the very least, first consider how nice it is that they have the courage to be honest. And that they find respecting you as a person worth the risk of the entire relationship when you get pissed off.

Then afterwards, there is still all the time in the world to ponder how you feel about the actual message they communicated.

For an opposite example: if you create a situation in which your girlfriend would not even dare to open up about things you do that make her feel bad, you’ll have a hard time fixing them.

Then over the years she might build up resentment and start thinking about leaving you.  But she won’t be able to talk those things through with you.  Because she knows you’ll reward her honesty by getting pissed off at her before you get a chance to listen what she’s actually trying to communicate.

In the end when she can’t take it anymore and finally cheats on you, she’ll know there’s no way for her to ever confess to you in a way that would make you understand the true problem.

Not only will creating such a climate in your relationship kill a lot of trust from both sides, it will actually create more things to be dishonest about.

Then when you find out, you can get mad at her for being just as bad as all the rest.

I used to have a very one-sided view about honesty in friendships and relationships.  But after thinking this through, I realized that when it comes to open communication, half of the work is done by the receiver giving the other person the opportunity to communicate openly.

Do you actually make people feel comfortable enough to open up to you about the parts of themselves that are not so pretty, or that they feel insecure about?

Like with anything, if you want true honesty to grow in your relationship, you need to provide fertile soil for it.  And reward the first shoots with fresh water and lots of sunlight.

How are you currently supporting it to grow?

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