How to have the courage to be radically (brutually) honest with yourself and others.

This article took me time to write, I couldn’t pin-point why but finally I realised it was because as I was writing the first versions I was not being brutally or truthfully honest. I was still trying to be nice so as not to hurt any readers feelings and appease everyone.   Brone wade an author on vulnerability wrote a book about the biggest regrets of the dying:

No 1 was  – I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me and

No 3 was – I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.  

I don’t want to have either of those regrets I want to have the courage to take risks, the courage to do things in the light of what everyone around me is saying.  Be brutally truthfully honest with the courage and confidence to do and say what I really mean…or feel or need or want. This goes for business, relationships and friends. I am sick of trying to please people and make them like me, and sick of thinking that they should.

I no longer want to mollycoddle up to people and say what they want to hear because people told me that I “should” and that I “shouldn’t rock the boat” or “think about it, how would they feel”. Well what about my feelings, if I don’t think about them no-one else will. That’s not selfish that’s self respect.

I want to rock the boat, I want to have an opinion.   I don’t want to be a nice person anymore I want to be an honest person and no longer care about being rejected for being honest.  How the bloody hell do we ever change anything if we just continue being nice.  Do you want to grow or expand?. Do you want things to change?    I would rather you told me that I had a big black spot of mascara on my nose then to walk around for the rest of the day being laughed at because nobody was honest enough to tell me. I want the chance to better myself not with harsh criticism but with truthful feedback.  

Radical change and radical honesty

Sometimes the boat needs rocking. Sometimes people need radical honesty to get somewhere in life, being nice doesn’t always work. By telling people what they want to hear and those little white lies we don’t progress and neither do they.  We are only lying, trying to protect ourselves or others.  From what – expansion? If we are not honest with ourselves or with others we don’t allow ourselves the joy of getting our needs met and don’t give people the opportunity to help us meet theirs. Being told the truth we become conscious of our own self development to evolve.  Instead of protecting each other, we contribute to each others growth. You can continue to let people tell you what you want to hear but I would rather have authenticity.  

Someone told me that maybe I shouldn’t use the word “brutally” honest because it sounds a bit negative and harsh.  I agreed at first and then I realised that being honest can be brutal and sometimes it does hurt.  However, we don’t necessarily have to be brutal in how we do it but with compassion.  So I left the word.

Isn’t that one of the reasons why we aren’t honest because we think we will lose someone’s love by confronting them or hurting them, or that we will be shamed or ridiculed because we think what we said was not acceptable or perhaps stupid, doubting our own beliefs.  

I used to be very direct with people but I am not sure I was really honest with them. Being direct was from a fear that if I told them what I really thought they would get hurt and I would be rejected, ignored and I wouldn’t get my needs met.  A kind of manipulation in a soft way.  My directness was Being honest rather then making them the problem blaming them, making them feel bad instead of saying what I felt and coming from the I place……not true to myself and my true feelings, betraying me and my convictions because of my basic need to be loved. Being honest is also about being vulnerable.

Really we are choosing out of fear when we choose not to say what we really mean instead of choosing out of love.  We are taking a risk and it could or couldn’t work out…..but that’s the risk, no regrets

The thing about being honest is that the other person does not have to accept what I have to say and I don’t need to save them from their own feelings. I need to be ok with that. Moral courage can be defined as the power and determination to follow what one believes to be right, regardless of cost to one’s self, and irrespective of the disapproval of others.   If I am not honest I am giving the message that I do not trust in the capacities of the other person to deal with their own emotions of what was said or being hurt or their lessons.  The same goes for me, I am not trusting myself.  I am deciding for them that I should save them from any bad feelings that I presume they might feel.   For me that is not loving or respectful to them or me and I might be wrong because they might also be happy about hearing the truth.  You gain in confidence when you trust yourself 100% to express your truth.  From experience you usually get what you really want or need and accomplish fulfilling your desires.    

I have been working on boosting my courage to do things I have never done before.  To be a different person to change the way people see me and the way they listen to me.  I started with the small everyday things.  Telling someone that I wasn’t in the state to listen to them but would do that later.  Telling them that what they chose for me was not to my liking.   

So don’t let yourself have any regrets.  Decide what you need to say and to whom and if you do make sure that you are ok with the expectations and intentions behind it, that it is not for anything else but for you to free yourself; to be truthfully honest and feel free.

It’s hard when you start to be really honest, you may may lose friendships but you will also find out if they were real friends.  You are allowing yourself to know whether they totally accept you for your beliefs, values and thoughts; you give them a chance to show you.  Courage also means the ability to do something that frightens one, the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to be brave and face difficulty, danger, pain, etc..  

You may also find they just need time to adapt to the new you and hear what you said and deal with it before coming back to you happy that you helped them discover and heal something about themselves.  That’s what happened to me!!

So here are some steps that I think might help to develop your courage.
1.START SMALL.  Develop courage through doing little things everyday, e.g make different decisions, say what you mean.  That way when you need moments of greater courage you will understand how it works.  You train the brain for the experience.  
2.STOP OVER ANALYSING.  This will freeze you and you may do nothing.  Sometimes being spontaneous helps.  It may spark a feeling, an emotion, that gives a clearer direction about a situation and what action to put in place. The courage of the act alone helps you understand what you need to do or say.  It is the fine balance between overanalysing and being stupidly wreckless…..for example I was spontaneous about calling someone to tell them how I honestly felt, I didn’t get to talk to them but the courage of the act alone made me realise that I had a feeling of shame about the situation that I needed to deal with before talking.
3.LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND – don’t dwell on past failures when you took the risk.  Look at improving what you did e.g changing an attitude.  Don’t get into self pity – this shouldn’t have happened to me, it’s not fair, life is not right.  It did, learn from it and do it differently this time.
4.IMAGINE … Instead of deciding in advance in your head that the worst will happen if you are honest imagine something better.  Like Byron Katie says if what you think will happen wasn’t true what would happen?   Start by saying to yourself Imagine if……..
Instead of If I say what I think I will be ignored say imagine If I said what I thought I might find more connection
Instead of If I say what I think I will be rejected say imagine If I said what i thought I might just be heard and understood
Instead of If I say what I think I will get hurt say imagine If I said what I thought I might find they feel the same way.
It helps change your mindset and trains the brain for a more positive outlook…. You might be really surprised by their response.  Or as they say decide that it will be good, because what we focus on is what we get.
5.BE CLEAR with yourself.  What do you hope to gain or what do you think you will lose by being honest?   Is it to get a reaction or is it because you need to express what you really think putting up boundaries for self respect and deciding what you will and won’t tolerate. Understand the consequences if it doesn’t work.  Ask these questions:
What are the expectations and intentions behind doing this, what am I not expecting to get, or to get ?  Why am I doing this?    Is it because I want to please, is it because I want to feel loved and be acknowledged? Is it for them or is it for me?
What am I not accepting? Where am I allowing myself to let my convictions be ridiculed?
I would suggest don’t do it until you know that you are doing it for you and you alone to release to heal or to love.
7.LAUGH AT YOURSELF.  Don’t worry about being ridiculed.  Make a joke out of what you said instead of feeling stupid, then you can laugh at yourself and make others laugh with you not at you.
8. LEARN HOW TO COMMUNICATE to  be heard …how to express what you want to say with the I, it will be accepted easier.  e.g….I feel….and this makes me understand or I am angry because or I see it this way……
9.DON’T WAIT FOR PERMISSION from others, or their authority.   Remember others perceptions are not the same as yours.  Others beliefs and truths are not the same as yours, no one can know if it will work or not.   Don’t let others make you doubt yourself and your convictions.  Listen but decide what’s in your best interest, know if you connect with their advice or not.  I tryed to explain to a friend about a difficult situation in which I felt what I needed to do was be really honest and send a letter explaining what was going on for me.  My friend was trying to convince me I didn’t need to, doubting that I knew what was really good for me.  We often do that, we doubt that the other is capable of understanding their true convictions and tell them what we would do, instead of understanding they know what is is best for them and supporting them.

Behaviour breeds behaviour, if you are honest with yourself then so will others be.  You will stop betraying yourself by wasting time on those that were not in line, in love or in connection with you and your true values.

Don’t ever think that your feelings are not worth the time or the space to be heard.  

Good luck and write your comments below to let me know if you have any tools for helping boost your courage to be honest: If you need any help with communicating honestly at work, home or in your relationships then I would be happy to help, just drop me a line.

Check out this great video Ted talk by Dan Ariely on his research about honesty and how it’s human to sometimes not be!!


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