Honesty is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I decided to set aside the normal fashion (the Ultimate Spring Break Guide will be coming at ya on Wednesday, I promise!) and lifestyle posts and talk about something I recently came clean about to someone and how it made me feel.
Long story short, honesty became a key item in resolving the relationship I had with a close friend. We were only friends, but he’s the type of friend I can talk for hours and hours with and never run out of things to say. He’s the kind of friend I don’t ever want to lose. We’ve been remarkably close for now 8 years, but a few years into our friendship, we had a very, very messy falling out. Hurtful things were said. Accusations were made. We both were 16-years-old and eager to restore our friendship, so we decided to skip over the messy part — quickly acknowledge it and move on. But we never fully did, and it put a lot of strain on our relationship until we got to college and realized we has some friendship rebuilding to do. The last step to achieve that, for me, was laying it all on the line. It isn’t easy, and I’ve rounded up 5 Tips About Being Honest for today’s post!
1. It’s a Great Feeling…After
This is a very important reminder, because being honest and vulnerable is downright terrifying. But striving for honesty in a healthy way often results in a better end situation. So when it seems daunting, know the afterward will make you feel a little less heavy — and a lot more confident.
2. It’s OK to Take Time
Time, for me, was a necessary agent. And the road to being straightforward about how I felt required many tiny stepping stones toward pure honesty. Mostly because I needed to figure out exactly how I felt. There was a period of one year I didn’t talk to my friend at all, and I can’t stress how necessary this was for our relationship to survive. I needed to take a step back and take a look at myself and my feelings. It provided me clarity! Time is a really powerful tool, and there’s no shame in using it consult yourself.
3. It Has to Be Genuine
This goes hand-in-hand with the time point, because in order to be honest — about the fact that you were hurt or in some cases, the fact that you hurt someone else — it has to be wholly genuine. You have to be in the right head space to clearly and openly communicate with someone. In this situation, “I” statements are always best, as in “I felt like…” or “I was hurt by…” These assume responsibility and don’t target the other person (whereas, “You hurt me…” is not really a recipe for success). Be as objective as possible — present both sides, be firm, put your words simply, and tell it like it is. And most of all, mean what you say and say what you mean.
4. Outline Your Expectations & Prepare Yourself for the Worst
If being honest means you have to clearly say you felt hurt or admit you caused hurt, it may not always be immediately well-received. Outline what you want to come from the honesty, and be prepared if those expectations are not achieved. Being honest will provide closure if you stick to the expectation of simply wanting to be straightforward about your feelings with yourself and the other involved. Expecting forgiveness, friendship, love, an apology — those things may not happen. But no matter what, putting yourself out there will be a freeing feeling and prevents regrets later.
5. Unsent Letters = Unresolved Baggage
When it boils down to it, holding onto something — however trivial you might think it is — bears a lot of weight on you. I call the things I haven’t said my unsent letters (fun fact: I actually wrote my high school graduation speech about this — maybe I’ll publish it some time and post the video for you all to watch!). To articulate the feelings you have — actually analyze them and put them into words — is liberating. Truth be told, it’s highly unlikely that you’re thinking about [fill-in-the-blank] incident every week, or even every month for that matter. It probably doesn’t manifest itself that often. But sometimes it might…for me, certain times of year and certain songs would create a minuscule sting of the unresolved pain I was carrying. I had let the incident go, but a part of me still ached to express it aloud. (Please note: this can be not telling someone something positive — like you like them — as well! It might bother you that you never got the opportunity to say it!) This pain was is unnecessary and holds you back. Honesty is the way to let it go.
So, I was recently on the other line of a phone call in which the two of us lost track of time when the conversation took a familiar nostalgic turn. The timing felt right, and I knew if I was ever going to say what I needed to say — words I had filled physically unsent letters and texts and journal entries with — it would have to be now. I took a deep breath, synthesized my feelings into a few succinct, poignant lines and ended it with, “this isn’t something we need to talk about any more, but I’ve always wanted deep-down to articulate that, and now you know you how I felt.” The line went silent for a few moments. And then he said to me: “You have never done anything to slight me and I myself often wondered if you would ever forgive me. At this point I know we have both moved on and ‘forgiven’ each other. I kind of assumed the messy past would just end up being buried under years of silence, but however briefly, I’m glad we got the opportunity to discuss it.”
And that was that. Regardless of how simple the exchange was, it meant something to me. I had been honest, and we no longer dwelt on anything. I walked the next morning with a spring in my step because I though I had pushed myself to move on and let it go, this was formal closure. And it felt really, really good.
What are your thoughts when it comes to honesty? Any tips? Comment below!