Being honest is something we learn while growing up but no one really teaches us how to do it, when it is suitable and when not and how much information we really need to share when doing it. Let’s have a look at it.
Telling the truth is a good thing
Growing up I remember my parents preaching that telling the truth is a good thing however going through life I have experienced many times that doing exactly that has brought me more pain and sorrow. Once I told a boyfriend that I got to know this new guy that I found interesting and that I would like to get to know him better. My boyfriend didn’t want to hear my truth and walked away. I was in shock! I totally did not expect that.
Tell the truth – now!
Parents want their children to explain what has really happened rather than making excuses. The question really is: What has happened before this situation that made the child believe it couldn’t say what was going on? Usually, children experience punishment, shame or fear due to past experiences with parents, teachers or other people of care, which stops them from just telling things as they are.
Even the promise from parents to not punish the child if they only told the truth does not always hold up. Receiving double standard messages doesn’t make it easy…
Time and readiness
I believe that speaking the truth can only happen when 3 conditions are present:
- Is what you are going to say about yourself and can you be absolutely sure that it is true?
- Is the other person ready to hear what you have to say?
- Is it beneficial for yourself and the other person to know?
If you answered one of these questions with a no wait for some better time. This does not mean that you have an excuse to never fess up to something you have done. Be honest with yourself as you answer the questions – honesty with yourself is the first step.
How much detail?
Working with clients in distress has taught me that the amount of detail is another important question in telling the truth. Too much or too little information can be detrimental, depending on the case. If you say too little and leave the rest up to the other person’s imagination you might create more pain than if you speak it all. On the other hand, if you go into too much detail about a sensitive issue, like for example an affair, you might also just add to the hurt as opposed to clear the air.