“It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and few by deceit.” Noel Coward…..
A major setback for me has been that I’m too honest. Sad but true, people would much rather listen to un-truths than an honest person. I will be 50 years old this coming November and it’s taken me this long to figure out why people would rather listen to phony, bullshit people rather than an honest, straight-shooter person; it’s all about egos. People want their egos stroked, they want to be told how great they are and they want to be able to say things, even cruel or stupid things, without consequence. It’s that simple! Enter an honest, straight shooter into this game and there is bound to be problems. I’ve never been very patient with bullshit, ego-boosting people or “look-at-me” attention driven nonsense. The behaviour annoys me beyond belief and I’ve had to dig deep into my psyche and ask myself “why do I care?” It’s occurred to me that maybe all of this annoys me because it’s more than possible that I am really ego driven and looking for the attention that seems to pass by me or maybe I am jealous of the fact that these people seem to have easy-going relationships, and friendships. Let’s face it we are all somewhat self-centred and at some point we will ask ourselves “what’s in it for me?” I remember listening to Dr Phil saying to a patient, “Is that working for you?” He was talking about the behaviour of this patient and how it was working for her in her life. In other words she was gaining something from her behaviour on one level and not dealing with the consequences of the behaviour on another level.
This is what I notice, people do and say things that are hurtful or plain wrong and as soon as someone says something to the contrary or points out that their words or behaviour is wrong, they don’t want to hear it and do anything to justify their stand, including choosing the victim route, “why me?”, the passive aggressive route or the ego route(“how dare you, do you know who I am?”). When you really think about all of this behaviour, it is amusing and I believe laughter is the best medicine to all. When I dig deep into myself I’ve come to the conclusion that I feel annoyed because I am a fairly simplistic person who lacks patience. I simply don’t understand why someone can say something that I may not agree with or say something hurtful and I can’t voice my disagreement in an adult manner.
I once had a boss who would ask me my opinion on certain things he was dealing with. The first thing I always said to him before I gave him my opinion was “are you sure you want my honest opinion?” “Yes, that’s why I’m asking you.” I would then tell him what I honestly thought and he would get annoyed with me and say something like “I knew you would say something like that!” I would be annoyed all day and think to myself “why did he ask me if he didn’t want my opinion?’ This went on for a while as I worked for him for years and eventually he would be in my office asking for my opinion and the same banter would happen. Finally I asked him “why do you ask me for my opinion when you don’t really want to hear what I have to say?” He look surprised and said “but I do want to hear what you have to say, I know you will be blunt and honest with me no matter what I say and I appreciate your honesty even though I don’t always agree with you.” It was then that I realized as a boss most people just went along with whatever he said and didn’t tell him the truth, they just told him what they thought he wanted to hear. I once read an interview with Bono of U2 and he made a comment that during his rise to fame, and still to this day, he listened to people who thought and said opposite of his thinking pattern, “listening to people who tell me what I want to hear, isn’t going to get me anywhere or help me grow as a musician or a person,” he says. Very honest words.
I’ve been blessed to have a few good friends in my life, friends I can be myself and not be afraid to be honest with them. At the same time I depend on these friends to be completely honest with me, when I ask them for their advice I want their honest advice even if it means that I don’t like what they have to say. One such friend has been my friend for the last 25 years and she has helped me more than she knows. During conflicting times with my family or friends she always bluntly points out maybe this situation has happened because I’ve said or done this and maybe I need to think this out more, or maybe I need to be more patient or maybe I need to be a little less me! I love her honesty and I love how we can tell each other the truth. Not that we haven’t had our arguments over the years, we’ve had plenty but we always come back to our friendship in complete honesty and count our blessings that we can count on each other for loyalty, honesty and trust. Funny thing is I don’t see her very often, not nearly often enough, as both our lives are crazy busy, but we are always there for one-another in times of need and times of celebration. Just one friendship based on this kind of loyalty, honesty and trust is worth more than 20 friendships based on phony, ego stroking and telling you what you want to hear.
Unfortunately, I’ve lost too as the truth hurts. I’ve lost what I thought were friends and relationships with family members. In each instance I’ve done some deep soul-searching and I’ve come to the conclusion that in my quest for complete honesty there will be some sacrifices. I’ve already made some sacrifices and I’m bound to make some more. I won’t change who I am to meet someone else’s needs, I will always be myself. I’ve also had to wrestle with the fact that at times I’ve trusted when I shouldn’t have trusted, making me reluctant to trust again but then I think of my trusted friend and if I hadn’t opened up my true self to her, our friendship wouldn’t be what it is today. The same goes for my husband and my children, they may get mad at me at times but they depend on me as, as I depend on them, for truth, honesty and loyalty. Even when the truth hurts.