Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If The Truth Shall Set Us Free, Why Do We Remain Tied To Our Facades

I know that I recently wrote that I would be writing next about my love/hate relationship with Facebook. But I've been bouncing the idea of Honesty around in my head for a few days and I'd rather talk about that first. Please indulge me.
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.


It's an interesting discussion don't you think... by not wanting to appear weak or vulnerable or flawed in someway, we're not being honest or putting ourselves out there for growth; in fact, it's exhausting keeping up the facade thereby making the problem even greater.

Let's say I have problem X. I hide that problem in a variety of ways because it's embarrassing and I'm afraid of being mocked. Now, let's say I tell just one friend about it. It's like I just exhaled and the stress in my shoulders released. And in allowing that person deeper into my life, I've opened the door to let that person do the same with something they may be struggling with. What a comfort creating that kind of relationship allows us.

There is a great deal of pressure to be somewhat flawless. Consider the point my friend made in the last post, that if people knew all our blemishes there's a chance that the 80% they like won't outweigh the 20% they don't. But do we need people like that in our lives? And isn't putting up a facade a negative anyway? Just think about anyone who has ever bragged to you about something that should make them look "shiny". Didn't you take that as a flaw? The facade may be just another layer with it's own dents in it.

So what's the answer. For me, it will be to live with honesty and integrity and be trustworthy. The kind of person who is happy in her own skin. The kind of person I would want to associate with. The kind of person I want my daughter to look up to... man, do I have some work to do.


  1. "The kind of person that is happy in her own skin."

    Nail. Meet hammer.
    People {waving around me} are always wearing hats. For this person that are that, for this person they are this...always trying to please and mold themselves into what THEY think the other person they are sharing immdeiate space with..wants.

    Not what WE are, but what WE think THEY want in a friend, lover, parent, child...whatever.

    That's about as honest as I can get.
    Now I needs me another glass of wine. Honestly.

  2. I am so honored that you not only commented, but are now following my little blog. I just entered the blogosphere 3 weeks ago and what a trip.
    I know you are busy woman, what with your "blog of note" honor and your new man (and that's just the info. I gleaned from your last few posts; busy is an understatement), but I would be thrilled if you would read a bit of what I've done here so far and give me your feedback.
    Thank you so much.

  3. I think it's about investment. We only let people in to ourselves as much as we have invested in a relationship with them. Why? Well, it's a defense mechanism from getting hurt mainly.

    There's also honesty vs. omission. Is it really being dishonest if you just keep some things to yourself (until maybe the investment or comfort is there)?

    Funny, but sometimes people reveal the deepest things about themselves to complete strangers yet hold back with people they care about. Maybe it's easier to unburden oneself with a stranger because it gets it out there and then it goes away.

    Interesting food for thought to noodle on. Thanks Bonnie...

  4. Tom, you are so right.

    I had completely "omitted" the idea of omission. And no, I don't necessarily think that omission is the same thing as dishonesty. It's honesty with a little bit you keep for yourself. Excellent point.

    And yes, being honest with strangers is easier than with people you have "invested" in. I think it has to do with the level of concern you have for what that person thinks. If I haven't placed any value on this person's opinion, then I can say nearly anything; what would it matter.

    Thank you so much, Tom. Opening these questions for discussion is it's own way of establishing deeper relationships with each other. I see that you're in the starting phase of your own creative outlet. I can't wait to read it.

  5. Bonnie- I couldn't figure out how to comment from where I linked from to be your follower, so I had to use a Google login thet I created 2 years ago when I started a blog, but only got as far as setting up the page format. So, it's pretty much blank.

  6. I have pondered this same question many times and each time I have come up with the same answer: To be honest means you have to be vulnerable. And honestly (no pun intended, who enjoys that feeling? To allow someone to see you for who you really are is a scary thing. I'm just now learning that it's ok to be not ok and to admit that I can't do everything by myself and I need help. Great post. (: Sorry for rambling there, I'll shut up while I'm ahead.

  7. Thank you for your comment, Insanity (though I find it hard to call you that preferring to use your name next time, ok?).
    Let me offer you some guidance... Ultimately, honesty is the opposite of vulnerability. It is empowering!
    I've just read a few of your recent blog posts - btw, if you are not a writer by profession, you should make it your goal to become one; you are quite eloquent - and it's clear that you are in a bad relationship. A relationship you feel is worth saving by any measure including the complete loss of yourself. It's not; you know that.
    The best relationships are the ones that inspire us to soar, that feed our soul, encourage us to think big. Find THAT relationship, by being "honest" with yourself that your current situation does not give you what you need to grow into that person you are destine to be.
    Look up, not down. Stand tall, don't slouch. Take a deep breath and stand up for you! Be HONEST with you!
    And please, if you need help, never ever fear asking for it. It's not a sign of weakness, it's about being proactive in your own life.
    I wish you well "Insanity". There is a saying I've always liked and I think it fits well here (though don't quote me, I'm sure I'm getting it wrong)... "Place no value on yourself, and be assured the world will do nothing to change that."
    Good Luck. Be Well.

  8. Very true. Thanks, I needed to hear that. Or in this case read it. I'm going to fix things today.

    Haha...and no I'm not a writer by profession, I don't have enough drive and patience. But I do like to write, hence my blog. RN's Gavin btw.

  9. Be true to you, Gavin!
    And keep writing; there's an author in you.