Being honest with yourself means seeing yourself clearly, of course, but what what does that mean? It’s genuinely challenging to come to an accurate self-perception. Our perceptions of ourselves are informed by the stories we have told ourselves about ourselves. Those stories can be wildly inaccurate, and unfortunately judgmental.
Have you ever examined your personal narrative? What stories do you tell yourself about yourself? Have you ever considered that some of those stories might not be true? Have you ever examined where the stories you tell yourself about yourself came from and continue to come from?
A few places where the stories of ourselves come from: things our parents said; things our teachers said; things our peers said; things people we dated said; things our spouses say or said; comparisons we make between who we think we are and what we think we should be; stories we have created and believed in order to protect our fragile egos (and many of these stories can be, oddly, self-hating stories). Given the intensity and number of stories that we have internalized about ourselves, how can we ever see ourselves clearly and finally be honest with ourselves?
Being honest with yourself is a daily, hourly, even by-the-minute practice. The practice is being conscious of what we’re doing, and asking ourselves why we’re doing it. At any given moment, what story are you telling yourself? Especially in moments of difficulty, being honest with yourself means separating yourself from your personal narrative. Can you step back from the running story of your life that runs through your head?
To step away from the story, we have to step into something/somewhere else. Being real — being truly honest with yourself — happens when we focus completely on something outside ourselves. When we become so immersed in something that our idea of who we are exits the premises, is when honesty with ourselves is possible.
Exercise: Recall a time when you were totally in the moment. What were you capable of? What were you like? How did you see yourself when you were free?
Go deeper into this subject: Your Narrative: Three Ways to Tell Your Life Story