I had lunch with a wonderful friend today. Last week was her birthday and we finally were able to find time in our schedules so that I could take her to lunch.
Our conversations tend to take the normal track - catch-up on kids, work, home then wade into the discussions of current personal set-backs whether it's a car in the shop or leak in the roof. In the end though, we always wind up talking about some deep emotional or psychological issue. This time was no different. This time the topic was Honesty.
"Why is it so difficult for people to be honest about themselves to others, when being honest ultimately frees us from the work involved in putting up barriers and facades?" "Why don't people tell the truth about themselves? In doing so, you not only free yourself from hiding, but allow the other person to be more relaxed in your company because you are being open with them."
I recently posted the above questions to my Facebook page and received quite a few very insightful responses (names have all been removed):
> I do not think that it is people not being honest with themselves. I think they just don't want to come across as being weak or vulnerable to others.
> I think it is all about keeping up a facade. I ALWAYS worry about what people think of me and I think at times that can make it harder to be completely open and honest about my flaws. I think if you care too much about what people think, it is difficult to be completely open and honest. What would happen if person x knew xyz about me? Oh wait, nothing! Wow...I might be a changed person.
> I honestly think its just a learned behavior. You build a protective shell around yourself according to what has worked to 'save' you over the years. In this case, SAVE can mean many things. Save you from pain, save you from a hassle, save you from commitment, etc. Or it could be like MY situation and you just don't remember things too clearly anymore and the memories have adapted themselves to something 'comfortable'.
> Wow, Bonnie...this is a deep one! I also worry about what others think of me... but I think most women do. Of course, there are some I would share intimate details with but not everyone. Sometimes it's just too hard to keep track of it all and I don't want to be judged so it's just easier to cover it all up and pretend it doesn't exist. Although, we all have faults, right? At times I just want to ignore them myself but yes, when you find that person to share it all with it is amazing and very freeing!
> Honesty doesn't always work. Human nature doesn't lend itself easily to unbridled truth. One of the many things that separate us from the ape is our ability to temper our responses to situations. Every story or question we hear is followed by a huge chess game in our head. "If I do this then what is that outcome". It allows us to tailor our reactions to events. Some cards you play close to the vest. I'm a pretty nice guy, good Dad, lots of fun at parties; but there are some things in my life I don't want to tell people, as I think it would distort their image of who I am. These things aren't game changers but they would separate us into sections, parts if you will. Humans remarkable gift is to see the whole, combine the parts, the Germans call it Gestalt. If we begin to tell everyone everything, we might start with, 'well I like 80% of that person, but that 20% really pisses me off. That's a deal breaker.