Radical Honesty


I recently read a blog called Why Treating Every Lover Like They’re ‘The One’ Changes Everything, which claimed that “Failure to be honest is the only factor that causes us to feel stuck in relationships”. It really resonated with me. I often find it very difficult in all my relationships, romantic or otherwise, to tell people things I think they won’t like hearing and it results in me feeling resentful towards them.

The blog argues that if you can be completely upfront right from the start in your relationships, the ones that aren’t right will quickly fall by the wayside, and the ones that are will sort themselves out.

I also heard a story yesterday about a woman who had an operation to relieve her chronic pain. She says in the story that there is a part of the pain that she misses now it’s gone, because it became more acute when she was going against her own morals and values: her own truth. It was a useful signal.

I can relate to this too. I usually experience it as tightening in my jaw and or throat, as if I’m literally squeezing my voice box to stop the truth of what I really think of feel from coming out, and it often happens when I want to say something that I think the other person won’t like hearing.

It could be as simple as thinking they’ve been hogging the conversation for the last half an hour, and I would quite like to be listened to for a bit. But how do I say that?!  It could be that I’m telling someone I’ll be there in an hour, when I know that an hour and ten is more likely, just because I don’t want to admit the full extent of how late I’m going to be. It seems to be at it’s most intense when I can’t admit how I really feel in a relationship.

How this relates to mindfulness is that, as you become more in tune with your body it becomes harder to ignore the signals it’s giving you. I’m much more sensitive to the physiological effects of what I do, say, eat, drink, see and hear as a result of my practice.

Sometimes I find that very easy to adjust to. I noticed that drinking three caffeinated drinks in the morning made me feel anxious and unable to focus, so I started drinking more herbal tea. I noticed that when I practised yoga, my body felt great, so now I do it every week.
Some things feel much harder to act on though, because I have fear of what will happen if I do. Fear that they’ll like me less, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of confrontation, fear of hurting their feelings and so on.

When I feel the tension in my throat I often want it to GO AWAY! But I’m starting to think of it as more of a compass that’s pointing me away from what’s not good more me and towards what is. If I didn’t have that, I would be lost. In fact, maybe these signals from my body are the most valuable thing I have, perhaps especially the unpleasant ones. And actually, when I do feel the fear and do it anyway, it’s usually no where near as bad as I imagined it to be.

So my resolution is to try to start practising what I’m calling radical honesty. That means being honest even about the things that I feel fear about being honest about. I’ve got a feeling that if I can do it, it will lead me on a bit of an adventure. One which will require a lot of courage along the way. With this blog, I think I’ve already started.

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If you’d like a mindfulness taster, I’m running a free mindful eating workshop on Thursday evening at Hub Islington.

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