Over the last few weeks I have been in the strange position to be surrounded by people who can not, or choose not to communicate openly about their feelings. I have seen people suppressing painful emotions, people refusing to believe the reality before them, people happily complaining about another person, but not clearly communicating with them what they want and need. It’s been surreal to observe. And in some cases painful seeing people hurting themselves and others by not being able to own their emotions.
It was amazing to see the excuses people gave themselves for not communicating their issues to the other people. “They wouldn’t listen” “They don’t need to hear this right now.” People actually preferred to not own their emotions not to be honest with themselves rather than communicating their needs honestly and openly. In some cases it seemed as though people would rather have the issue than seek the solution.
It baffled me that it seems to be a social norm that people avoid resolution by not communicating honestly and expecting it to get fixed without effort. My inner Vulcan was incensed by this illogical and irrational behavior. Until I realized it all boils down to honesty. Or rather our ability to be honest with ourselves and others.
So what is it that holds us back from being honest? Well there are many reasons. However, in my work I have found there are two common trends that stop you from being honest:
- It’s easier to blame someone else rather than yourself.
- You are afraid of rejection
And I get it. I used to have these issues too. However that was the days before Mr T came into my life. Mr T has Asperger and for those of you that know a little about Asperger’s you will know that it is a strain of autism. Now autism can be seriously challenging to live with. However it does come with gifts too. One of the things that comes with this, at least in Mr T’s case, is blatant honesty. And by blatant I mean knows no boundaries and is incredibly blunt. The little blue lies that get other men out of trouble, do not exist for him. Obviously in the early days of our relationship this caused one or two issues. However, as I got to know him I began to realize that this blatant honesty was a blessing rather than an hindrance. In fact it is something all non autistic people can benefit from.
When I began to operate from the same level of honesty an amazing shift happened in our communication. For one thing it freed me up from the confusion of cross communication. If one of us didn’t understand then we said so. It made me more comfortable in expressing my needs and more accepting of hearing his. It saved a huge amount of time and emotional energy. And when we applied this honestly consciously to our actions we began to learn which dramas we were operating from it gave us a whole new understanding of ourselves.
These days if we get into a row one of us will ask ‘which drama are you operating from right now?‘ Drama being a code for a previous life experience, fear or insecurity that is being projected onto a current situation. This question gives the other person the opportunity to self reflect, identify what is really going on and to own it. Rather than projecting it. (It also quickly allows us to identify misunderstandings in our communication. An added bonus) It’s so empowering. By fostering this level of honesty in our communications it supports us to be honest with ourselves and each other.
And what I have found is that this magic question “what drama am I operating from?” is that it can also be used by myself on myself. I want to lose weight, but don’t want to stop eating junk food, well that’s straight away from my low self confidence and the hating people (even myself) dictating what I can and can’t do from my childhood dramas. Frustrated at my boss’s lack of positive feedback, there is my need for acknowledgement from my father drama. Once identified and owned, the solutions of how to solve the issue comes quite quickly. And as I always say if you can understand something, you can do something about it.
Of course honesty does sometimes hurt. Its part of the package. Mr T’s explanations of why he has not proposed yet hurt like buggery. Yet I knew that he wasn’t being malicious or intending pain, he was simply explaining his truth. Instead of letting the upset take over I was able to discuss it with him and actually we had a really enlightening conversation about it. Remember if you give honesty there are people out there who will give it back. If the honesty hurts own the feeling and find out why it hurts, see what it is you need to work with. And remember to respond not react.
Now I am not going to say communicating with another person, or even ourselves at this level of honesty isn’t challenging. It is. It takes a lot of bravery to take ownership of our insecurities at this level and a level of vulnerability to be honest in the face of potential rejection and societal norms. However what I know from practicing it is that it gets easier with time. And it simplifies life enormously. If I explode that Mr T yet again has not emptied the dishwasher I know that underneath it is a back history of frustration at partners who expected me to get on with everything even at the point of self destruction. This quickly reminds me that Mr T is not one of them and changes the explosion to me asking him how we can remind him to do his chores. If I use the drama question on myself then I quickly get to the root cause of whatever is bothering me. However I use it it quickly leads to the solutions phase.
Basically being brave enough to get over the blame game and our fear of rejection to be honest about what is going on with us and own it makes life so much easier. And who doesn’t want that. One of the best side effects of this level of honesty is respect. As you become more honest with yourself, you respect yourself more and other people reflect that too. Infact your bullshit sensors get so highly tuned that you tend to filter out unnecessary and unwanted bs, surrounding yourself with people who both respect and inspire you by saying what they really think.
Try it and see for yourself.
Let me know how you get on with your honesty experiences in the comments below
Have an amazing week and remember to enjoy your journey <3