Can i be honest with you?

If someone asks you this question, you should probably always say “no”. The one who asks does it because she is aware of the “weapon” of honesty. Here we are in a liminal space between knowing and not knowing anticipating the bullets of truth. The reason we ask for an invitation to be truthful is because we know, out of our personal experience, that confrontation with honesty can be uncomfortable, confronting and perhaps even painful. We ask permission, making an enquiry about the readiness to know.

Honesty lies in the understanding of our close and unavoidable relationship with not wanting to hear the truth.

What makes honesty so terrifying? Why do we have a fear of truth? From a cognitive and evolutionary perspective being exposed to the truth makes us more vulnerable as it confronts us with a possibility of a loss. Losing means recognizing our own finitude and weakness. It is one of the fundamental existential threats in human experience. In the course of life our brain builds a psychological immune system that protects us from the dangers which can destabilize and lower our productivity thus lower chances for survival. Most of us grow up with a solid belief in individual power and shape our identity out of an idealized sense of ourselves based on fixed beliefs. As the time passes these beliefs take over our ability to see things for what they are. And if not challenged reguary, they slowly but gradually build a comfortable castle of ignogence protected by familiarity also known as a bubble. Once the bubble is poked, we are thrown into the unknown and if the tools for navigation are absent, debubbling is rather unpleasant. To avoid side effects of meeting the truth all defence mechanisms are being unlocked when there is a danger of contamination by honesty.

But while making us powerless and anxious, it is good to keep in mind that honesty is there not to hurt or manipulate us, it is there to help and ground us in reality. Few months ago I started to practice radical honesty. To be honest with you, I am making first steps in that direction. It is not as easy as i thought. On top of quintessential arrogance in deciding for others whether they can handle the truth, the actual truth-delivery-moment very often resulted in awkwardness. Instead of “reducing stress, deepening connections with others, and reducing reactivity” a promise made by Brad Blanton who introduced the concept, I am getting “increasing distance, anger, long silences and defence”. My mistake was that I was too busy with the concept, trying too hard to explain the importance of meeting the truth instead of practicing unspoken integrity. Honesty is grounded in humility and humiliation, the core condition for deep connection which requires a poking of at least two bubbles. And once you realized that you are never alone in the reality of the unknown, the truth isn't that scary anymore, on the contrary being naked with nothing to lose is actually a pretty present and liberating experience. So, can I be honest with you?

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