Fear of Honesty

I have observed a funny behavior in human beings:

Many, if not most, seem to be afraid of honesty – their own and that of others.

As I’ve come to know myself, my comfort with honesty has grown – especially about my own feelings, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses.  With this, I’ve become more bold in speaking my truth and being transparent with who I am and the journey that got me here.  Funny thing is that many simply don’t know what to do with that level of truth telling.  Those that don’t enthusiastically receive the truths I share,  either run away in terror or project their own dishonesty onto me, making me the enemy.  It seems the adage is true – many human beings simply cannot handle the truth.

For example:

When we share our weaknesses or vulnerability there are three ways in which people react:

  • It’s completely ignored (as people slink away from the sharing that is likely triggering their own unacknowledged vulnerabilities.)
  • It is welcome, and we are thanked for speaking something they may have felt themselves.
  • Some will catastrophize our words and then reach out to ask if we’re ok or if we need help.

When we share our feelings or attempt to name and claim our needs: Again, we are met with one of three reactions:

  • Projection. The recipient turns their own shame or inability to accept difficult feelings or set boundaries on to us – thereby turning us into the enemy.
  • Gratitude. The recipient gratefully accepts our words and if appropriate apologizes and accepts responsibility for any behaviors that may have hurt us or for infringing on our boundaries.
  • Respect. The recipient honors and respects our desire to set boundaries and upholds them willingly.  

When we speak truth to power and point out societal and corporate injustice:

(issues of racism, sexism, corporate greed, white privilege, concerns about poverty, education, healthcare, homelessness, economic injustices, etc.), there are four predictable reactions:

  • Retaliation. This response most often comes from those benefitting from these injustices as they attempt to intimidate or justify their willing participation in injustices from which they benefit.
  • Explanations and excuses.  Ahhhhhhh the corporate Koolaid! (more on that later).  All the reasons and justifications people make for being part of an unjust system (I have bills to pay, they provide me with insurance, it’s a “good” company, yada yada yada).
  • Deaf Ears. This most often comes from those who are either in denial, or who are attempting to ignore the suppressed shame they feel for being part of an unjust system.
  • Agreement. Spoken loudly and clearly from those who also see the injustice and who are willing to risk rejection and condemnation by calling out and working against injustice.

I know!  I’m preaching to the choir! You get it! If you don’t get it chances are you haven’t read this far anyway!  😊  So what’s my point?  What’s the moral to the story?  Why are people so uncomfortable with honesty – whether it be personal honesty spoken or more general honesty about an unjust system?  The reason is simple:

People’s discomfort with honesty reflects their inability to be honest with themselves.

Lauri Ann Lumby

Has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, facilitator, soul-tender, and guide. She has supported hundreds through her one-on-one guidance, books, workshops, retreats, over thirty online courses, and online community.

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