Practising self-honesty can be a skill in itself especially if you have spent years trying to avoid it.
How often have you been in a difficult situation or something hasn’t gone your way?
At times like this how often have you blamed someone or something else?
If you are totally honest with yourself probably a lot more than you care to admit. But that’s OK because we are human beings and it is our automatic reaction to defend ourselves from hurt. The hurt of having to put our hand on our heart and honestly admit to saying you were to blame.
So that is the heart of it.
Why do we do this?
We allow ourselves to blame others or other things so we don’t have to be accountable to ourselves or to others. This works for a little while but isn’t really solving the problem and making you feel better about yourself? For a short while possibly but not for the long term. Over time you will keep building up excuses and reasons why life isn’t the way you would like to be. The reasons will be mounting but also the baggage that comes with it.
This baggage can generate anxiety and stress that can be contained for a short while but eventually, this will take its toll on you. On your physical health as well as your general well-being.
If you are starting to notice a lot of negativity in the way you are thinking and feeling this is a sure sign that you need to start practising self-honesty.
What is self-honesty?
Self-honesty is about delving deep within yourself and being totally honest with the way you are thinking and feeling. It’s rather like being a private detective always searching for the reasons why.
- Why am I thinking this?
- Why am I feeling this?
- What effect is this having on me?
Why is practising self-honesty important?
Practising self-honesty is important because it means you will be more in touch with your thoughts and feelings. It’ll mean you’ll be in a better position to then be able to decide whether they are serving you well.
If they are that’s great.
Decide on how you want to be thinking and feelings instead.
The more you practice this the more in control you’ll be. The more in control you are the greater ownership you’ll have over those difficult thoughts and feelings.
This means the next time you are in a very difficult or traumatic set of circumstances the more equipped you are at managing it.
My Dad liked to cover all eventualities and was an advocate for safety first. When he used to go off walking in the Welsh Hills even in the summer he always had the essentials but also a flask of hot soup, emergency rations, spare cash, a full set of waterproofs, a hat and gloves.
This became a secret joke, whenever I go off somewhere slightly off-piste the comment would be, “Don’t forget your ice axe, crampons, Kendal mint cake!” But you know, he was only preparing himself for all eventualities.
Anything can happen in the hills and mountains that can get you into real trouble.
The moral of this story is, the more appropriate kit or skills you have with you in easy reach the better equipped you are for coming out of the traumatic situation successfully.
Do you want to:
1. Learn and understand more about yourself?
2. So that you are better prepared for what life can throw at you?
When you are new to practising self-honesty there’s a tendency to overthink which can send you round and round in circles. Eventually, you’ll learn to recognise the balance between self-honesty and overthinking. This is about being realistic:
What’s real and I am responsible for and I can change?
How can I change the way I think and feel but have no control over?
This is where the process is so individual to each of us.
My clients will say to me, “Cath, what do I need to do for self-honesty to work for me?”
I can only advise where to start. You will discover what works and how you can make the process more slick or accurate.
Your starting point.
- Journalise your thoughts and feelings down describing how it is affecting you and why.
- Journalise how you think this might be affecting the important people around you.
- Reflect on whether these thoughts, feelings and behaviours are useful to you. If they are, how? If they’re not, why not?
- Reflect on how you would like to be thinking, feeling and reacting.
- Make a note of how you could make it different. Noting the actions you need to take to make it easier, better, right and when.
Downloading in this way gives you the opportunity to get it out of your head, and into black and white freeing up your head space for something more useful, fun, and exciting.
If you’re struggling to notice how you could change your thoughts and feelings try:
- Stepping outside the situation and looking at it from a different viewpoint.
- Pretend you’re looking down on yourself noticing your reactions.
- Think how someone you trust and respect would have managed the same situation.
- Reflect on this and consider your next steps.
What are the long-term benefits of practising self-honesty?
This may seem like a lot of work to be more self-aware but once you have started to understand yourself it will become easier and quicker. You may be able to move away from the journalising process and quicker alternative if you want to record information. Perhaps a mind word drop activity instead.
The important point to remember here is the more you connect with yourself the more aware you will become of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Even better you will begin to be more aware of your behaviours affecting others.
Imagine being in a position where you notice your triggers before they have an impact on you.
Practising your self-honesty skills will enable you to do this. Giving yourself permission over how you are going to process your thoughts and feelings to reduce the anxieties and stresses of life will give you more control during difficult situations and unexpected scenarios.
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