‘Honesty is the best policy’ is an overused phrase, but is it true? As I write this I recall one of Hilda’s teachings. She cautioned us to think before we spoke, and consider whether what we were about to say was necessary, kind, and helpful. If all three of these criteria are met then by all means proceed.
First and foremost, be honest with yourself. Honesty does not involve berating yourself (or hitting yourself over the head with a hammer). It does mean looking into what’s going on inside yourself. How are you feeling? What’s the truth as you see it in the current situation you’re dealing with. And what is your motivation behind the action you are considering taking? I find journalling a big help in getting clear on what is really going on with me. Am I being motivated by anger, fear, jealousy or greed? If I am my communication or behaviour will probably not meet the criteria of ‘kind’.
Honesty and truth aren’t always one in the same to me. For instance, if I am feeling unloved that is the truth of what I am feeling, but not necessarily the truth in my life. Like we say in therapy feelings are very important to acknowledge and express but are not necessarily facts. I may honestly be feeling lonely and unloved, and the truth is I am very loved and respected though I am not feeling it in the moment.
So if somebody says to you ”Do you like my haircut (and you think it looks terrible). Tell me what you think honestly.” Well, is it necessary to be honest in that moment with your friend? Would it be kind to tell her you think it looks dreadful? Is your opinion helpful? While it’s true in your opinion, somebody else might think it looks lovely. So is it necessary, kind, and helpful in that moment to say what you think?
Now perhaps you know someone robbed a person’s pension payment. And you knew the elderly person was depending on that payment to pay important bills of their own. And you visited the elderly person who was quite upset and asked you if you had any idea who could have stolen it. Would your honesty in that moment be necessary? kind? helpful?
Every situation is different and can be weighed up accordingly. However, if you are being honest with yourself and clear about your motivation in the situation then give it Hilda’s one, two, three criteria and be as honest as would be good for you to be in the situation at hand.