Have you ever thought about what it truly means to be honest?
Does how honest we are really affect the quality of our lives? Are there different types of honesty or is it a one size fits all concept? These are questions I’ve been pondering and discussing with clients recently that deserve attention to, because I have seen how having these answers for yourself can really help your understanding of the problems you face, especially when it comes to addiction.
A helpful way to understand honesty is to break it down into its parts.
Honesty can be both towards others, and towards ourselves. Honesty can be in words, actions, and feelings. It can be both in acknowledging the truth, and acknowledging the lies. Being an honest person means being real with ourselves even if that means feeling our painful emotions such as shame, grief, or insecurity.
Being honest with ourselves and others is no easy task.
Why is it that most of the world’s cultures, religions, communities, and governments view honesty as a virtue, and yet everyone struggles to be honest 100% of the time? Probably because dishonesty often serves as a way to protect ourselves. We tend to lean towards dishonesty when being honest would require us to face a challenge, let down our pride, or deliver painful news to others. It’s more comfortable to hide from our painful feelings than to work through them, so we keep ourselves safe wrapped in a blanket of lies, never having to move towards anything healthier for ourselves. But because it’s impossible to stay the same forever, we look for more sources of comfort to protect us from our pain, which often turns to addictive substances and processes.
In addiction treatment, honesty is commonly seen as the first step towards healing.
AA and other treatment protocols require the person struggling with addiction to admit they have an unhealthy relationship with substances or processes and are willing to receive help. You can’t make a change unless you’re able to be honest with yourself about your addiction first. Continual focus on honesty has helped thousands of people recover and heal from addictions of all kinds. But it’s important to understand why this works.
Understanding this very complex problem can be found in a pretty simple explanation.
Honesty works to heal addiction because dishonesty is what keeps us stuck in addiction.
Dishonesty protects us from our unwanted selves, while honesty allows us to change ourselves. It’s difficult to break a cycle of dishonesty when it’s been so crucial to your survival before, but living honestly with yourself allows you to grow past mere survival into thriving.
Dishonesty prevents us from working very hard, but if we do the hard work in front of choosing honesty, the return can be a much easier and comfortable relationship with ourselves! If addiction is keeping you stuck in dishonesty, consider what it may mean to be more honest with yourself and others. This may lead to your first step towards lasting change.
Written by: Megan Rainey