telling the truth | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

Why Do I Like Honesty?

Over the years (and it has now been years) this blog has been around, the focus of my writing has shifted from making recommendations about what you should do in order to be happy, to honestly sharing about my experience.

I don’t think I’ve ever explored with you all why my writing has evolved this way, and it’s an issue I think is worth exploring.

After all, it can be scary to share honestly, and it certainly isn’t a surefire strategy for getting blog traffic.  When I talk about my own “uncomfortable stuff,” it has a tendency to bring up others’ “stuff” too.  People who read blogs to get a break from their stuff, rather than see it plastered across their monitor, might not be cool with that.

I Don’t Tell The Truth Because It’s “Right”

Here’s another interesting fact I’ve noticed in my self-exploration:  my honesty doesn’t come from a desire to be “right” or “moral” either.  What morality demands when it comes to honesty is a tricky issue — some people would say it’s wrong to be “too honest” because it might “hurt somebody’s feelings,” while others would say honesty is required at any cost because “lying is always wrong.”

No, I don’t share vulnerably because it’s “the right thing to do” — I do it for the sake of my own growth.  If others grow along with me because they read my writing, that’s wonderful.  (And from my mystical, Northern California point of view, we all grow together whenever one of us does.)  But if I told you I share solely out of a selfless desire to improve your life, I’d be lying.

Honesty Is Like A Massage

Why does authentically talking about myself improve my life?  For me, it’s pretty simple — my body releases tension and relaxes when I’m genuine about what I’m feeling and thinking.

Whenever I’m pretending I have feelings, wants or thoughts other than the ones actually arising in me, my body tightens up.  The easiest example of this is a fake smile — forcing my lips to curl upward, when it’s not what my body would naturally and unconsciously do, creates tension in my face.

I have the same experience when it comes to everyday “small talk.”  If someone asks me “how are you?” and I respond “fine” even though that isn’t how I’m feeling, I feel a tightness and sourness in my stomach.  By contrast, when I tell someone what’s actually going on for me, even if it isn’t all sweetness and light, the sensation can be almost like getting a massage.

I used to be more willing to compromise — to tell people I felt “fine,” laugh at jokes I didn’t find funny, and so on — thinking the tension that built up in my body when I acted inauthentically was a small price to pay for keeping people happy.

What I eventually realized, from talking to a number of people about what it felt like to be with me, was that, when I compromised and held back what was really going on, their bodies tensed up as well.  Every time I withheld the truth, or at least “my” truth, I was bringing more uptightness into the world.

My hope is that my writing can function kind of like a good shoulder rub to help me — and others — release the tension that builds up from living in a world where we too often silence how we feel and what we want.