"Your past is not your future; you have the power to make new decisions for your life starting today."
- Deb Sofield

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If You Want To Be Trusted Be Honest

Seems like a no brainer to be honest, but you and I know that some of our friends will skirt the truth for various reasons, none being worth the damage that a lie will yield. It makes perfect sense as you go through life, that if you want to be trusted, be honest.

I had a friend who was notorious for telling (as she would explain) “little white lies,” as compared to green or blue lies, I guess. She wouldn’t even blink when telling a “little” mistruth, and over time I started to wonder where the “little lie” stopped and the “big lie” began. Since I could never be sure, I slowly moved away and rarely see her anymore.

As I remember, none of her lies were that big of a deal–just little statements that had no lifelong damage–but over time, they did make me pause to ask if the person that I was dealing with had another side that I didn’t see. I’ll never know, but I do wonder if her comments were to help or hurt me or simply to make her always look good.

Most of us, I assume, want to be known as honest. Nothing will ruin a relationship quicker than finding out our business partner wasn’t truthful or our sibling didn’t tell the whole truth or our friends fudged on a few details of a conversation. Walking that fine line of being deceitful and honest seems to be a tightrope for some who, for obvious reasons, hope that they won’t be caught so that they can return the money to the company, or make right with family members before the others siblings find out or even shield the other friends as one works out some difficulties.

In the end, most would agree that instead of lying about an issue, if we knew the situation, we could find a solution together that would settle the matter with no lie being told, no harm being done and no loss of lifelong relationships.

Most of us have lifelong friendships because we’ve been honest with our posse through thick and thin. I love what John Lennon said, “Being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it’ll always get you the right ones.” I can’t think of a better idea than knowing I have the right set of friends to help build, encourage and push me to be my best.

That being said, another aspect of being honest is to be careful and kind when needed. Honesty without kindness, humor and good-heartedness can be just mean.

No one should be mean when they need to share a hard truth. There should be a lifeline of gentleness that mirrors the hard discussions that might need to be settled. Not always easy to do, but it is certainly worth it to try to find a way to gently correct and put back on the right path those who have strayed. It is easier to bring friends and family back into the fold if it is done with kindness, humor and good-heartedness.

If you want to be trusted, be honest. Be honest with yourself, and be honest with others.

Let me start with the fundamental issue of being honest with others. Without a doubt, you can probably think of the one person who fudged the truth (or flat out lied), and here you are years later and that memory still has not faded. That is the value of always telling the truth.

We all have friends, family or co-workers in our lives who when we hear their name all we can think of is the lie they told years ago or yesterday. They may have gone on to become upstanding citizens, but that will not erase the bad image we hold of them for their past actions. If you can still remember the issues years later, just imagine how others feel about your past mistakes. Just goes to show that we all would do well to simply tell the truth and accept the responsibilities for doing so and keep moving forward.

I know that is easier said than done. For years we’ve been conditioned to tell “white lies” to make others feel good about themselves. No one wants to hear that they look fat in their favorite pair of jeans; no one wants to hear that their new expensive hair color, hairpiece or perm is awful and they shouldn’t go out of the house looking like that; and no one wants to hear their ex is having a grand time dating up a storm.

So is it so bad to fudge the truth a bit?

You’ll have to decide for yourself.

For me, I have a new motto in life: It is better to be kind than right.

I have seen the damage that can be caused by being harshly right vs. firmly kind. The arrogant attitude of being right will cause you to lose the respect of family and friends because you didn’t have it in you to show a bit of mercy in your superior attitude. I have come to believe that no one who has not committed a crime should be treated with such disrespect that the verbal stripes leave lifetime scars. Even if they are “right,” the self-righteousness leaves a bitter taste that is not forgotten. So what is gained? Nothing.

In my work, I see clients, young and mature, who bear the scars of verbal abuse and lies, so much so that they dread the one thing that would set them free–the power of voice. Being able to express and defend themselves from the words that fill their head and heart with fear is life-changing. Learning that what others tell them isn’t always the truth is a mighty step forward in healing for success.

I’ve also learned a shocking surprise in my old age, which is that my opinion, in most cases, doesn’t really matter, so I need to either be quiet or learn to say very little or speak kindly when asked.

The truth is, after all these years of allowing my friends and family to nudge around the edges, slaying them with the sword of truth is probably not my best idea if I plan to keep them close. So I will listen, speak softly and, if needed, speak decisively but kindly to put the issue away or back on track without causing others to be embarrassed, broken, scared or bitter.

I love the quote by James Faust, “Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.”

It is the truthloving part of the phrase that I will turn to to reflect speaking truth in love. I can think of no better way to leave others than with a memory of grace, kindness and caring.

Being honest with yourself seems to be harder than being honest with others. Not sure why that is, but it seems to me the idea of slowing down long enough to reflect on our choices, our judgments, our lives is hard to do. Maybe it is because we have no one to blame but ourselves when we stop and reflect on who we are or what we have become.

It would be so much easier if we could pass our issues onto others and blame them for how our life has turned out. Alas, no such luck, my friend. You are the master of your destiny, you are the captain of your ship, you are the shepherd of your flock…so stop blaming others when you wreck your life.

If you want to be trusted, be honest. Be honest with yourself about who you are and where you’re going. The only way to become the person you’ve dreamed of becoming is when you face the fact that the decisions you make today will reflect on you tomorrow and every day after that.

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t strive to be honest and trustworthy; the dishonest remarks just seem to happen when we don’t stop to think things through and tell a quick white lie to make a situation settle down or go away. But consider how others will come to view you if that “quick white lie” becomes a habit that, over time, you don’t even give a second thought to since, in the scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter, it’s not life threatening, nor is it physically harmful.

What is it is, is convenient. And that, my friends, is where the lifelong damage of how others will view you, talk to you and about you is created, so be wise, think about how you answer others and make sure your words are true. Stephanie Klein has one of the best quotes on honesty that I have seen, and she says, “Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.”

Ah, friend, if you want to be trusted, be honest. And isn’t that the legacy you want to leave behind?

I’ll answer for you and say, yes, it is.

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The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. - Paulo Coelho