Radical Honesty & Relationships
Savvy Sunday Salutations:
Welcome to another week with guest blogger Patrick Tulley; last week Patrick talked about Empathy and the week before he discussed Relationships, Friendship & Attraction; this week Patrick takes these thoughts one step forward and talks about how honesty works and should work within a relationship. I too believe honesty is the best policy, I hope you find this enlightening and should you have any thoughts or want to share your own insights please do so. Enjoy!
(As always there is a pdf document at the bottom of the post for those who may find this a difficult read.)
RADICAL HONESTY & RELATIONSHIPS
I’ve talked a lot about the subject of self awareness and in particular how that can affect our relationships. This week I want to look at what constitutes a healthy relationship. Where are the pitfalls we face in nurturing longer lasting and more pleasurable relationships in our lives. Does it lie within radical honesty? Well let’s see and I’ll let your relationships be the best judge of that.
Honesty is often seen as a virtue in today’s world and certainly there are aspects to honesty that can be virtuous, but honesty at all costs? Really? I ask this because I think we can all agree that if some guy was looking to murder your wife, would it be wrong to send him in the wrong direction? I think not. So honesty can come with a cost. We have an expression known as a ‘white lie’. This is often used as a way to rationalise being dishonest at times. For instance I recall being accused of skipping school along with a fellow pupil once. This was true in my case, but when asked to admit to the misdemeanour, I took the opportunity of lying and said that I had been unwell and been in bed all day. The other pupil burst into tears and admitted to it. It was he that got six strokes of the cane that day and not me. Since my father worked long hours and my mother was staying with a friend that week, I knew there was little chance of me being found out. Sure, I took a risk my father would be angry that I never told him, but then again my father only usually gave me three beatings and not six. As it turned out, the school never challenged my account and I never heard anything more about it. As far as my dishonesty goes that day, I have no problem with my lying. What gave those teachers the right to beat me with a cane is beyond me frankly. We don’t beat our employees after they take a day off work without informing us. We have more civilised ways of dealing with such a situation. However, I certainly sympathise with the other poor lad for sure, regrettably for him he didn’t have such a good cover story as mine.
So when do we consider honesty as a virtue then? Of course we should apply honesty in our working life if we are to maintain a good reputation and not jeopardise our future careers. However, more importantly it applies to those we hold in high regard, such as our family or friends and in particular our partners and children. But this is perhaps where we often find honesty the hardest, within our personal relationships. Telling the closest people in our lives how we really feel about them is sometimes really hard. In fact, very often the thought of expressing our honest feelings to them can be very frightening. This can also be true of our working relationships as well. Some people find it enormously difficult to express a preference or criticise constructively a situation that happens to them at work. This has the negative effect of them not usually ever progressing much in their careers and stagnating in a job they end up despising, but often terrified they will lose. Honesty is not just about telling the truth, it’s about taking control of our lives and being confident about improving it. Regardless of the small decline in divorce rates in recent years, the figures still mean that around 125,000 couples divorce each year in the UK alone. These are the relationships that have been pushed to their absolute limits of course. I can safely say without much uncertainty there is a significantly higher figure that are experiencing marital difficulties that will likely just plod along with their marriage in quiet desperation. Unable to let go of their marriage, but equally unable or unwilling to resolve it either.
Without honesty within our personal relationships, they are unlikely to survive. Honesty is the very bedrock that holds them together. Without it, we lose our trust, faith and respect in each other. These may sound grandiose ingredients to some people of course, but they are actually vital for healthy relationships in general. Of course relationships come in tiers, insofar as some are on different levels, dependent on the amount of intimacy we share. We could split them up in this way perhaps.
- Partner & Children*
- Working relationships
*Children can and should take precedence over a poor relationship with your partner, given that that they are more vulnerable of course.
Now some of you may argue that friends might be as important or even more so than family. But I would strongly urge you to check your reasons for that. If it’s because you feel you can trust your friends more than your family, then you have a problem straight away. Why don’t you trust your family? This is particularly marked when you believe you can trust a friend more than your husband for instance. If this is true for you, then I would suggest something needs to be done in terms of honesty if you want to mend those relationships. In theory families, partners and our children are probably the most important relationships we will ever have in our lives. After all they are the people we spend most time with than any other. I’m not necessarily meaning extended family here, but certainly parents and siblings I think we can consider as family within these terms. Some of you may feel, ‘no way!’ and perhaps for good reason. Like I said before, honesty at all costs? If you know a family member or partner not to be trusted, then fine, that is not for me to question. However, where I would question you would be if you still had these people in your life. To what end do you consider them worthy of your time and effort? In many ways it is the lack of honesty from both parties that cause many a petty or deep seated resentment amongst them. Telling your partner or a family member how you feel about them and how you would prefer to feel about them is a stepping stone towards resolving any disputes you may both have. Of course this needs to be reciprocated in turn and you may have to face some important criticism yourself. Likewise if they don’t respond favourably towards you expressing your feelings then you may need to make a difficult decision with them in the long term. Honesty cuts two ways of course and if one party is unwilling then it is hardly the responsibility of the person trying to make amends to accept the status quo and remain within the relationship.
I think it’s well worth considering of course, that dependent on where you place a person in terms of intimacy largely dictates the amount of honesty you might give them. For instance if you know a work colleagues partner is having an affair, it probably won’t help you if you tell them. Chances are they probably know and won’t thank you for pointing it out to them. Or if they don’t know you could be faced with taking the flak for their diverted rage with their partner, which will face you with a fresh set of challenges at work, which you could have avoided. However, if a close friend’s wife was having an affair then I think you should be able to tell them. If they react negatively towards you, then you kind of know that you misplaced the importance you gave that relationship in the first place. If we are unable to be criticised constructively by our friends, then how do we learn about ourselves better. A great friend is one who is willing to say, ‘hey man, have you noticed this about yourself, what do you think?’ Often it is the advice of a good friend that may have headed off some difficulties you may have faced in future. The degree of honesty you apply to your relationships is the degree to which you value them and consider yourself objectively as valued back. Some values you may share with acquaintances as with all your relationships. But because those relationships are of lesser importance to us, we don’t need to start exploring for the differences necessarily.
Is this a radical way to approach our relationships? Perhaps so, but compared to the mess that dishonesty can bring us within our closest relationships, at its worst divorce even, I think it’s well worth considering. A book by Stefan Molyneux that I read some years ago which faced me with these new challenges called Real-Time Relationships is where I would first recommend studying this approach to your relationships. It is available as a free PDF or can be bought as a paperback if you click the picture cover below. Of course one of the first relationships you have, which I failed to mention, is with yourself, which this book will explore in detail with you. Being honest with ourselves is probably the one person we should never consider as unworthy of honesty. As to do so will merely be reflected in the friendships we keep. As always the very best of luck to you.
Copyright © Patrick Tulley 2011 – All Rights Reserved.
Thoughts and comments are encouraged as always.
Pdf document: Radical Honesty & Relationships
PATRICK TULLEY: PHILOSOPHER, AMATEUR WRITER
My name is Patrick Tulley. I am primarily a philosopher and an amateur writer but also have been a painter and sculptor in the past. My background has been quite varied, as I have lived abroad on and off during my 20′s, been in a number of different professions throughout my life. More recently, I have been working as a private consultant within the public sector.
Since philosophy is my preferred interest; it is always something I rigorously apply to all my thinking and writing. Whilst I am knowledgeable about abstract philosophy, I am not particularly interested in taking that route. Philosophy is about the search for truth, it was always meant to be understandable by everyday people -this does not mean dumbing down the ideas of course. It just means I do not allow myself to get sidetracked by too many inconsequential arguments, often referred to as lifeboat scenarios. I tend towards the more Aristotelian and Socratic methods of philosophy, but I also have interests in Hume, Nietzsche and Rand. Philosophy has been a wonderful and fulfilling part of my life; it’s often been a very misunderstood subject -which I hope to discuss in future posts. I also enjoy reviewing art, literature, music and passing comments on culture, news and personal experiences that I have found both interesting and enlightening. I do not have a particular interest in politics –however; I may discuss my reasons with you sporadically throughout this blog. Overall, this is hoped to be a journal about a philosophical life. I hope you will enjoy my outlook on things and look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts along the way. I would also like to thank Ozlem for giving me this opportunity to have a voice on her blog.
Disclaimer; whilst we (guest bloggers and I) do not set about to intentionally upset visitors to the site; I understand some of the topics discussed/raised may touch nerves. Please note I will do my utmost to screen these posts before I post them however; I do believe in freedom of speech and I would hate to limit someone because they think differently to me or have different values from mine. Therefore, I urge you to have some understanding and an open mind before jumping in and causing a scene without it being constructive. Like I said, Patrick and I do have difference of opinions and on most cases we agree to disagree but at the same time we also respect the others’ thoughts and views -after all we do live in a civilized world; with this in mind I hope we will have more cultivated and engaging discussions. One last note to all: Here on yikici I have aimed to keep posts and discussions clean; I am not a fan of words that are disrespectful and disparaging therefore, I will not condone its’ use here on yikici; I do hope you share my views on this –if not, at least can respect them.
Thoughts and comments are encouraged as always.
Pdf document: Radical Honesty & Relationships
~ by Patrick Tulley on July 24, 2011.
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