Dare to Be Honest

Others project their faults onto others, seeing in them the very faults that lie hidden within themselves. They simply cannot accept in others what they refuse to accept in themselves. Or they might displace their bad feelings by taking them out on somebody else. For example, Fred may be angry at his boss, but fearing he may lose his job if he says anything, takes his feelings out on his wife and children.

We can also become experts at rationalization. For example, when we deny our fears, we can unconsciously sabotage our relationships, or set ourselves up to fail in certain situations. We then brush off our failures by making excuses, blaming others, or even by saying what happened must have been God's will!

The challenge is, how do we learn to be honest with ourselves? It isn't easy. For many, it's like learning a new language. However, there are some positive steps we can take.

First, realize that a normal human being has a whole spectrum of emotions ranging from love, joy, peace, wonder, through to fear, hurt and anger. These are all God-given emotions. Without them, life would be terribly dull. To be emotionally whole means to be in touch with every human emotion.

Second, we need to see our need and want to be honest.

Third, we need to admit and accept responsibility for any problems we have, and consider the possibility that our impaired relationships, dull marriage, unsatisfactory sex life in our marriage, anxiety, depression, destructive habits and any physical symptoms we have might be caused by hidden emotions and faulty communications.

We defend our dishonesty on the
grounds that it might hurt others
and, having rationalized our
phoniness into nobility, we settle
for superficial relationships.

Fourth, and most important of all, we need to learn to pray the right prayer. If necessary, tell God that you don't know how, or are too afraid, to be honest with yourself and need his help. Ask him to give you the courage to see yourself as you are and to face the truth about yourself. His answer will probably come in an unexpected way—perhaps through a book, a personal setback, a friend, a difficult or broken relationship, or some other painful situation. Unfortunately, most of us only look at ourselves if we are hurting sufficiently.

Fifth, learn through practice to express your feelings openly and honestly, especially to the people who are important to you. If you're feeling hurt, afraid, confused, or angry, admit it and say, "I feel confused or angry." Never say, "You make me mad," or "You hurt me." This blames the other person for our reactions, which are always our problem and responsibility. Identify why you are feeling the way you are. For example, say, "I know my feelings are my problem, and I may be overreacting, but when you speak sharply to me as you just did, I feel hurt and/or angry."

If the person won't accept your feelings, write them out in a letter. If you feel you should give it to the person, sleep on it and re-write it before doing so. If they still won't accept them, try what Gary Smalley and John Trent suggest in their book, The Language of Love. Share how you are feeling by using word pictures; that is, make up a story or parable that will clearly show how you are feeling.

Finally, if I love you, I will always be open and honest with you and as the Bible suggests, I will always strive to "speak the truth in love." Therefore, I will never blame you for my feelings, but will take full responsibility for them and for handling them in a loving, non-judgmental manner.

Denying our faults and feelings, acting them out blindly, or lashing out and hurting others with them, is weak and immature. Acknowledging and talking them out in a responsible manner is a hallmark of the mature adult. It may not be easy, but it is true strength, and is the only way to develop growth-producing and intimate relationships.

1. S. I. McMillan, None of These Diseases, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1966, p. 7.
2. Leader's Handbook, p. 32. Yokefellows Inc., Millbrae, California.
3. John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?, p. 61. Argus Communications, San Mateo, Illinois. Copyright 1969. Used by permission.

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