Radical Honesty vs. Complaining

radical honesty is like putting your clothes on the line

Radical honesty just means hanging out your clothes to dry.

The Purpose of Honesty Is Freedom

I like to favor being honest because it liberates me. As I become more willing to share what is really going on with me at any moment, I find there is less and less that I have to be afraid of or ashamed of. Making friends with the truth is freeing.

Being honest is humbling. It doesn’t matter if I’m being honest with myself or with others, it is exposing my uncensored self to the light that both humbles and frees me.

This Can Take Many Forms

For example, asking for what I want is a way of being radically honest. I say “radically” only because it sometimes feels so different from the usual way of hiding. It takes courage to do this when I believe that others will judge me for it.

Similarly, saying no is another form of this kind of honesty. Exposing my true opinion even if others may disapprove. Honesty is the opposite of hiding. That’s why it feels so freeing to engage in honesty.

But There’s a Fine Line Between Radical Honesty and Negativity

For some reason, people assume that if you’re being negative, or saying what others don’t want to hear, you’re being radically honest. But that’s not necessarily true.

Being negative, complaining, being hurtful or manipulative sometimes masquerades as radical honesty. But the difference is easy to see when I look inside myself.

Being honest feels like peace, a relief. I am revealing my vulnerable side to the light of day. Being negative feels stressful because I still want the world to change and I want to hide myself.

This Comes up in Feedback

When I give feedback to someone, if I am truly being honest, I am sharing my heart with them. But if I’m using feedback to complain, I don’t feel the connection heart to heart. I’m simply reacting, and calling it honesty.

Of course it is honest to share, even if I am reacting. But I can be much more honest in giving feedback if I can find the vulnerable part inside of me that is trying to hide. If I share that part, I join the the other person. I’m no longer attacking them with feedback (in the guise of being honest).

I’m now an equal, sharing my raw heart with another person. There is no violence in that. Only humility, love, and peace.

How to Transform Complaining into Heartfelt Honesty

One of my favorite things to do when I notice that I want to give someone feedback, is to write down my feedback and question it using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work of Byron Katie.

When I do this, I find my humility. I see my negativity. I own my own reactions and hidden motives. And the charge goes away as I do this.

I love to do this before I ever share my feedback so that when I do it comes from a true place of humility, which is the only place I can join another human being.

But even if I give feedback without questioning it first, it is also rich to question it after the fact. Questioning always leads me to a balance of radical honesty and humility, which is the end of even the faintest hint of violence.

Join us in January for The Work 101, my eight-week online course in The Work of Byron Katie. Or attend one of the many events offered by other facilitators of The Work.

Have a great week,

“When you’re honest about your yeses and noes, it’s easy to live a kind life. People come and go in my life when I tell the truth, and they would come and go if I didn’t tell the truth. I have nothing to gain one way, and everything to gain the other way. I don’t leave myself guessing or guilty.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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