Pretty much everyone you meet will say that they value honesty in a person.
Society holds truth-telling up as a virtue. But the reality is that many of us still lie and bluff our way through life.
Because honesty takes strength and strong values. But honest folk also know that it’s worth it.
Here are 10 things only honest people understand about life…
1) Winning at “all costs” isn’t really winning
We all like to win.
After all, success feels good. It gives our ego’s a nice little pat on the back.
But there are certain things that are never worth sacrificing in order to get it.
Our integrity is one of those things.
If you have to turn against your values, or what is really important in life, it’s not worth it.
If you have to lie, cheat, and abuse others along the way, the price is too high.
Sadly, we still live in a world where money, power, and status get elevated above more modest aspects of life.
But the root of our happiness and well-being doesn’t lie in these external measures of merit. (Despite how nice they can feel to accumulate).
It comes from a deeper place. It is found in our health, the relationships we build, and the meaning and purpose we create along the way.
Honest people are perfectly aware that being underhand can take you places in life, but it’s not a trade-off they are prepared to make.
2) Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s just ignorance
Maybe you’ve heard the expression ignorance is bliss.
I’ll level with you:
I think sometimes it can feel like it is.
I think of the people I know who delude themselves. And it does seem to shield them to a certain extent.
They can lie to themselves and pretend a situation is different from how it really is.
They can blame others (or life in general) for their woes and never have to take accountability for themselves.
Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s bliss, ignorance is certainly easier.
You might say “but what you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?”
Personally, I say wrong.
Hiding from the truth does still hurt you. Because ultimately, when we stay ignorant, nothing changes.
We stay stuck.
We cannot face the truth of reality, and so we cannot grow. It robs you of the opportunity to create positive change.
The truth can be painful. But as the cliche goes, it can also set you free.
Until we see reality, we are stumbling around in the dark. The truth is like putting the light on.
Only then can we see where we need to go.
3) Honesty takes real courage
For all the reasons I stated above, it’s fair to say that the truth doesn’t always come easy.
As we’ve just seen, it can be a tempting option to simply bury your head in the sand.
That’s why facing the truth and speaking up for it takes courage.
Lies are the scapegoat we often seek to let us off the hook.
They feel like the easy way out so that we don’t have to face uncomfortable situations.
But they are the cowardly option and so ultimately a weakness.
4) Without truth in your relationships, there is no relationship
I am a huge oversharer in my closest relationships.
I’m one of those people who have very few intimate connections. But in the ones I do have, I reveal pretty much everything.
I lay myself bare.
And not just the positive parts that I am proud to share. But the awkward, shameful, or embarrassing parts too.
Because that’s all part of intimacy.
A relationship where we share just the highlights is only half a relationship.
Whether we like it or not, truth matters in our relationships.
It’s how we forge authenticity, vulnerability, and respect — all of which are the foundations of a healthy connection.
Until we can bring truth to our relationships, we can never really share our honest selves with somebody else.
And this need for connection is one of the most fundamental parts of human nature.
5) Being honest isn’t an excuse for being tactless or unkind
Sadly some people try to use the defense that they were “just being honest” when they’re actually being cruel.
The truth shouldn’t be used as a weapon by the ego.
It should strive to create transparency and sincerity. But it shouldn’t be thrown around recklessly or inconsiderately in an attempt to land blows.
Neither is honesty the same as unsolicited advice.
It’s not our place or privilege to dish out home truths left, right, and center.
That’s why timing and context are also important.
The reality is that it matters how, when, and where you use the truth.
6) Not all lies are created equal
Here’s the thing:
Even the most honest among us will most likely lie from time to time.
Because studies show that most of us lie at some point or another. Only as few as 1% of people say they almost never lie.
But rather than tell giant whoppers, it’s usually little fibs that we engage in.
Research found that around 75% of people tell one or two lies a day, and up to 90% of those lies are so-called white lies.
Whilst you could argue that a lie is still a lie, the reality is that the motivation for the lie matters.
Lying for selfish reasons is far worse — whether it’s to impress, for personal gain, to hurt someone, or to avoid taking responsibility.
These types of destructive lies can be harmful.
But perhaps you decide to spare a friend’s feelings by telling her you are grateful for the meal she cooked for you, rather than volunteer the fact that you didn’t enjoy it.
The truth is still the truth, but it doesn’t always need to be spoken. Honest people realize this.
7) There isn’t only one singular truth; the truth can be multifaceted
Honest people don’t only see things in black and white. They recognize that we often need to live in the grey area.
They know that whilst some things may well be irrefutable facts, others are less straightforward.
A story has many sides.
Honest people understand that all they can do is share their truth and be open to hearing other people’s.
Because we can all have our own version of the truth.
Sharing it isn’t necessarily about convincing others we’re right, or even defending the truth.
It’s more about being able to express ourselves authentically.
8) The most important person to practice your honesty on is yourself
In many ways, cultivating self-awareness is simply learning to see yourself with honesty.
Being truthful about what makes you tick, and getting to grips with your own emotions, thoughts, and beliefs.
When we are willing to see ourselves exactly as we are, it empowers us.
Because only then can we confront our own biases and false assumptions. And that’s going to save us so much heartache and wasted time.
When we learn to be honest with ourselves it deeply impacts our relationship with ourselves and others.
We can process emotions, rather than hide from them.
We can show up as our authentic selves, rather than be burdened by pretense.
We can create healthy connections with others.
Being honest with other people is important, but it’s vitally important to be truthful with yourself.
9) Sometimes people will shoot the messenger
We’ve already established that telling the truth isn’t always fluffy and lovely.
Sometimes, it sucks to be the bearer of bad news.
In these instances, I’m sure we’d all prefer to mind our own business and stay out of things.
Because honesty also creates dilemmas.
I once had to pluck up the courage to tell someone that her boyfriend had been seen kissing another woman.
Was that easy? Nope. Did I want to tell her? Not at all.
I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do.
But also in the full knowledge that:
“Don’t shoot the messenger” is a common phrase for good reason.
Don’t expect that people will always thank you for your honesty. They might also blame you.
10) Lies come back around to bite us in the ass
Sooner or later, the truth will out.
So in many ways, lies are a false economy.
They can seem like a shortcut to an easier life, but the fallout can be twice as bad later down the line.
When we lie to avoid facing the truth, it’s usually just a delay tactic.
Call it karma or just the facts of life, but weaving a web of lies becomes a ticking time bomb.
Secrets have a habit of unraveling eventually.
And in the meantime, they leave us feeling uneasy as we carry the weight of their burden around with us.
Final thoughts: My simple motto when it comes to honesty
I’m certainly no saint, so I don’t say this with any piety, but the way I see it is:
If you have to lie about it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
What I mean is that what we feel guilty, shameful, or embarrassed enough about to cover up is a big red flashing siren.
It is alerting us to the fact that we’re going against our own value system.
Because if you weren’t, you’d be happy enough to tell the truth about it.
So failing to be honest is just as much a form of self-betrayal as it is a betrayal to others.