Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2014 Contents | PRACTICAL INSPIRATION |
HERE I GO AGAIN. Talking about hon-
esty. And not just any old honesty but
RADICAL honesty. Honesty ALL the
time. The kind of honesty where:
a) You're in the middle of a conversation
when it becomes clear that the other per-
son has misunderstood something you
said but their lack of understanding
makes you look good. Instead of continu-
ing, you put them straight and you no
longer look good at all. In fact, you're com-
ing across pretty pathetic.
b) The cashier gives you way too much
change and you're out the door already.
You turn around and return the differ-
c) You're not in the least bit interested in
the gossip going on in a telephone call.
You let your friend know that you would
prefer to talk about something else. Si-
lence ensues and the friend soon cuts the
In all of these situations it would have
seemed more in your favour to be dishon-
est. But you choose to live differently and
face the consequences. That's radical
For us in Trinidad and Tobago, facing con-
sequences is becoming increasingly diffi-
cult. It's hard to know when this difficulty
started. (It's important to say here that I
don't advocate for honesty in life threat-
ening or dangerous conditions. If some-
one is holding a gun to your head and will
hurt you if you tell the truth, then by all
means don't.) Perhaps for so many years
during colonisation, slavery and inden-
tureship, truth was dangerous and life
threatening, so maybe we had to become
liars to save our skin? I don't have a clear
answer but I do know we need some help
starting to tell the truth. So here goes:
1) It's not going to happen overnight.
Even after several years of being truthful
I can still find myself reverting to polite-
ness over honesty, silence versus disclo-
sure under certain circumstances. You
learned the habit ("addiction" I some-
times call it) of dishonesty over decades.
It won't shift in a day.
2) Recognise the circumstances that
make you tend towards the lie. With me
some of the more difficult include: being
in the company of older people whom I
don't want to make feel "uncomfortable",
work related situations, days when my
life feels stressful in general. In the early
stages of being honest don't test your-
self too much if you can avoid it.
3) Seek out truthful people and spend
time in their company. I've definitely
found that dishonest people congregate.
Becoming honest can be like giving up al-
cohol. It doesn't help to spend lots of time
with those who make dishonesty central
to their lives. The vibe is contagious.
4) Learn to recognise your bodily signals.
When I'm being completely honest my
voice sounds different, my stomach
feels different. My internal bodily
sensations don't lie. And the more
I tell the truth the more I can dif-
ferentiate between what hap-
pens internally when I'm
present by being truthful,
versus the hide-and-seek
experience of a lie.
5) Be gentle with your-
self. Allow yourself to
make mistakes in
the process and don't make this a moral
issue. It isn't. You're not a "good" person
if you tell the truth all the time and a
"bad" person if you don't. Honesty isn't
anything to do with that. Honesty is to do
with acceptance. Accepting yourself, and
others, for just the way you are, in that
moment, with all your current feelings
and thoughts and ideas --- and not having
to make an effort to hide it. It's about cre-
ating the circumstances that allow real
intimacy to happen because you are not
manipulating other people's experience
but you are giving them a profound
glimpse of the real you.
6) Notice that change happens. What
you said yesterday and how you felt may
not be true for you today. Inconsistency
is often more true of people than we
want it to be. A big motivator for dishon-
esty is our attempt to make others think
that things haven't changed. Accept
change for yourself and for others and
then trying to keep your experience the
same will seem more and more ludicrous.
And you won't have to lie to appear that
way. So good luck if you choose to em-
bark on this journey. And good luck if you
don't. The different roads will provide for
contrasting experiences and being a
human makes both of them possible.
Have an interesting Sunday that's worthy
of examination when the day is over.
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