This is the second part of a little blog series I’m writing called “What Works for Me,” in which I’m sharing the ins and outs of my spirituality. I hope you find it useful.
Last time I talked about “Open-Mindedness,” one of the spiritual principles that I try to live by. The second principle (but again: these are not linear, but are inter-woven and inter-dependent) is self-honesty.
Being honest with myself means that, before I complain about other people and their behavior, I take a look at ME.
And I mean a REAL look.
It’s so easy for me to let, well, ME off the hook. I make excuses for the same behavior in my own life that I normally scream about in others’ lives.
(In fact, the longer I live in this life, the more convinced I am that when something REALLY infuriates me, it’s usually an indication that, somewhere, somehow, I am guilty of doing the EXACT SAME THING.)
Self-honesty means owning my own thoughts and behaviors on a very deep and sincere level WITHOUT SHAMING myself (because, to the degree that PRIDE is about distinguishing myself from everyone else—”I am the best” OR “I am the worst”—SHAME is just another expression of pride).
Self-honesty means that I am always willing to ask myself, “okay but what did I do?” BEFORE I dwell on what someone else did to me.
Because, the truth is (if I’m being honest), my motives are practically ALWAYS mixed.
(NOTE: that question above does not address issues of abuse or victimization. There are many times in my childhood where I have not done ANYTHING to “deserve” the treatment that I received. But as an adult, I have had to be at least willing to entertain the thought that I have a part in a lot of the difficulties in my life.)
Already you can probably see the relationship between being open-minded and being honest with yourself. CLOSE-mindedness can very easily conclude, “It’s THEIR fault,” while being open-minded introduces the idea that maybe, JUST maybe I had some role in whatever is going on in my life.”
(Which, by the way, means that I have AGENCY—response ABILITY—to do something about it.)
Practicing self-honesty, to me, means that I normally reflect on my behavior in a day, and ask myself about my thought life and behavior. Was I selfish? Was I fearful? Did I over-react to a situation? Was I ambitious and prideful?
There’s nothing damning or too damaging in these answers. They are meant to remind me that NO ONE (including/especially me) is perfect.
Additionally, practicing self-honesty ALSO means that, because I am prone to making mistakes, I am likely to hurt other people. AND if I have hurt other people, that means I can also be open (and willing) to going to them and apologizing, and trying my best to make the situation right in some way.
But that’s getting into WILLINGNESS (which is next).