This I Believe

Kristen - Long Beach, California
Entered on August 22, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: integrity

I believe in Honesty. Not just the abstract ideal of “honesty” we are all taught to aspire to from the time we were small, but a daily practice that requires self-scrutiny and making tough choices. You see, I’ve discovered that honesty has very little to do with what comes out of my mouth.

A commitment to living an honest life is about actions, not words, like not doing anything I will ever have to lie about. It also means acting the same way regardless of whether or not I am in the presence of those who trust or respect me. My sweetheart wouldn’t ever need to be worried about a ‘night out with the girls’ if he knows I wouldn’t do anything that I wouldn’t do in his presence, right? His trust, and the relationship that goes with that trust, is therefore maintained. It’s a win-win, situation, really.

Of course, using the principle of Honesty in my personal relationships only scratches the surface. If I am not honest with myself, how can I possibly be honest with others? Self-deceit is hard to spot, and the consequences can be painful. I have to maintain awareness of my own feelings, thoughts and motivations, and change my behavior accordingly. This practice has led me to several conclusions about my life’s priorities, for example: I cannot maintain relationships with people who treat me poorly, because in order to do so I would have to lie to myself that either their actions were acceptable, or that I didn’t feel hurt. (I will not get into the long, arduous road that I had to take in order to reach that conclusion. The point is that I finally got there.) I have also figured out that the self-deceit I have to maintain in order to avoid taking responsibility for my actions is a dangerous waste of time and resources. In order to continue to blame others and continually shift my focus to deny my own accountability, I divert precious time and energy away from what is most important; such as making changes and fixing the problem!

Some may think that this practice is rigid or unforgiving, but that is not how I see it. This is not an all-encompassing regimen of self-flagellation. It is about making sure the person that is seen by others matches the person I am inside. It means what I say is what I feel and how I think. It reflects the synchronicity of my actions and my words. There is another word to describe this, of course… integrity. By holding on to the principle of honesty I am granted freedom from the burden of a lifetime of regret, freedom from unnecessary shame, and, most of all, freedom to be egregiously, unabashedly, myself.