Why do people ask, can I be honest? The implication is that you need permission to be honest, that the truth requires preparation. Yet if you ask most people they will claim the truth is what they're after and stats show that 92% of people claim to be honest all of the time*; so we shouldn't have to worry, being up front is easy right? So why aren't we all doing it?
This week's mission came about because last week I lied to myself about my desire to meditate and found out too late, life might be easier if I were more honest. Not that I'm a compulsive liar or anything but I've been known to stick a bit of concealor over the eyebags of life, in the form of a well placed falsehood.
An example. I live in Brighton; it's a town that attracts a lot of tourists and tourists mean a lot of people stopping to ask for directions. I usually say I can't help and that's usually a lie. Not because I don't want to help but I'm rubbish at directions, I'm just about down with left vs right and I'm sure they'd end up more lost than before they started. It's not a big deal, slightly disappointing a nineteen year old boy from Barcelona, but if I'm willing to misrepresent myself to a stranger, what will I be compelled to do when dealing with someone I care about?
Just being committed to being truthful made me start the week feeling hopeful. It was nice to know I would not have to compromise myself for a whole week, so I was surprised to be tripped up very quickly. I had an appointment for teeth whitening and just before my appointment I found a better offer in the discount section of the internet. I needed to cancel my appointment and anxiety curdled in my stomach. What would I say? I needed to give them an excuse. I'd need to say I was ill, maybe I was a bit ill? In the end I didn't have to say anything, the receptionist wiped my name from the appointment book with alarming dismissiveness. It gave me the confidence to carry on but I found myself feeling much more aware of what I was saying, speaking a lot less and thinking much more.
Many, many times I had to tell my son he could not have yoghurt rather than my usual story that all the yoghurt in the world has been mysteriously consumed by a yoghurt fuelled alien nation. In response he became very angry! Why could he not have yoghurt! Here was the yoghurt and here was his mouth? His anger was all consuming - it consumed him, my sanity and several hours at a time. I hated making him feel bad it made me feel like a horrible person and I found that the fear of this - being seen as unkind or lacking was what caused me to want to lie most often.
Not allowing myself to indulge in this fear had some surprising and very positive results. On a couple of occasions I was offered compliments and whilst my instinct was to be very British and downplay my achievement, it wouldn't have been honest of me to do so. If anyone noticed they didn't mention it and I realised the only person I'm kidding with this 'aw shucks' patter is myself. When my mother sent me a message to say she wanted to talk I told her that I only wanted to chat if it was something interesting (she has been known to update me on the offers on at Lidl). She laughed heartily at my honesty and did indeed have some juicy family gossip to tell me. On the final day of the experiment a lie slipped out. I told my husband I was going to the shops, when in fact I was getting my eyebrows threaded. When I admitted that I had lied he seemed genuinely confused and asked why I had done so. Forced to be honest I said, 'because I didn't want to look shallow.' My husband stood up and gave me a big hug and said,
'You can be shallow if you want to.'
And that was it. Being honest meant never apologising for who I was and the experience really helped me. Nothing bad happened. No one unfriended me on Facebook. This honesty business had many perks, I just hadn't given it enough of a chance. So try it. For a week or even a day; it will change your life for the better - honestly.
*I made that up.
February is blogger month on The Moderate Mum! Every Tuesday I'll be writing about all things bloggy and on Sundays I'll be giving away an amazing blog boosting prize. This week it's a planner from The Bloggers Planner (if you're not a blogger they also have some non blog based planners) and to win all you have to do is join Mission Acceptance and enter the competition below.