Can you feel the dread in your belly when someone starts a sentence with, “To be honest…”?
Usually this phrase is accompanied by a zinger. “To be honest, your hair is ugly.” or “To be honest, you need a lot of practice.” or “To be honest, I don’t think you have what it takes.”
We laud brutal honesty in our Western culture. You can see it idolized in reality TV and corporate leadership and government. Some of us even wear it as a badge: I say what I think, to hell with how it makes you feel!
And so we wound each other every day in the name of “honesty.”
You know the saying? “The truth hurts.”
At least we all say what we mean, right? And isn’t that better than hiding behind a politeness mask and swallowing our opinions?
Because honesty — as we know it today — is its own mask. It’s a loud defense against criticism. It’s a wall that keeps us separate from one another.
Real honesty is defined as well-intentioned and the quality of being free of untruthfulness.
But it’s been hijacked to persuade someone else to your truth (You’ll love it, honest!) and it smacks of rightdoing/wrongdoing (They should have been more honest.) and often comes across as an insult rather than helpful feedback.
In Sanskrit, satya is truth, and it’s one of the five yamas, a personal discipline that’s practiced alongside four others, one of which is ahimsa/non-violence.
So if you perceive someone’s hair as ugly, practicing satya would caution you to become self-aware about what you do next. Telling someone their hair sucks doesn’t breed trust or love — it’s harmful and unkind and, frankly, unnecessary.
Today’s honesty is missing a companion: vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the willingness to be exposed to the possibility of harm, especially emotionally.
Vulnerability doesn’t concern itself with being right or wrong. It wants to be seen just as it is. It beckons, “Here I am. All masks are off. All defenses let down.”
When you look within you and around you and down at your smartphone, you can already see why vulnerability is so difficult to embody. Our culture primes us against it.
And yet, don’t we long for it?
Vulnerability is the missing ingredient for practicing satya.
When we show up with the willingness to be exposed, we can be open and honest with others. Then, our truth doesn’t hurt; it seeks to heal.
A week ago, I finally unlocked all the carefully hidden and unspoken parts of myself in an effort to heal my heart. I learned so many things that I can’t wait to share with you, but perhaps one of the greatest teachings is this:
Vulnerability is freedom.
Honesty + vulnerability led me to record this video for you sharing my experience from Path of Love, the 7-day spiritual retreat that changed my life.
There’s something I haven’t been telling you because I wasn’t ready before. Now, I feel compelled to wipe the slate clean.
Time to take off the mask once and for all.
Disclaimer: Because of the times we live in, I need to tell you that I didn’t and will not receive any compensation from the Path of Love organization for talking about it. My views are my own. I believe in this retreat’s power so much and, well, you’ll just have to watch to see why!