How I Learned to Be Honest With Others
|And anxiety undoes honesty.|
Growing up, just about anything would make me cry, and it was nearly impossible for me to stop. I remember going to see "Malcolm X" with my mother and a friend of mine. Obviously, I knew how the story would end; I knew that the main character would be assassinated in a very public venue, and that the hardships faced by Black Americans at the turn of the century, sparking the civil rights movement, were unspeakable and inhumane. Yet, when that damn Sam Cooke song played and that aerial shot of Malcolm X (Denzel) splayed on the stage floor with Betty (Angela Bassett) clung to him crying, I sobbed. I sobbed for a straight half hour. I sobbed as the credits rolled. I sobbed on the somber walk out of the theater. I sobbed in the parking lot. And I sobbed on the ride to Tiffany's house, where we dropped her off, and she turned and said to me "It's okay. It was just a movie."
But it wasn't okay. It wasn't just a movie. It was the best parts of humanity and the worst parts of the human experience. It was a reminder that we are all capable of standing up against incredible injustice, and that sometimes, when faced with greatness, people choose fear and stamp it out. In that moment, as I watched the end of Malcolm's story unfold as re-imagined by incredible actors under the guidance of a phenomenal story teller like Spike, I felt every feeling evoked by that film all at the same time, and it was overwhelming. I could apply it to my life, my story, and my world views. When that last scene played out, I was caught in a space that made me feel things that were not in line with how I believed about the universe, the human spirit, and what we are all here for. And it was gut wrenching.
It was also very difficult to explain at ten years old.
I could tell immediately that my mother was embarrassed and my friend was embarrassed for me. My mother would exhibit physical signs of discomfort and, to some degree, distress, when I couldn't pull myself together. Most days, I was like tissue paper on a windy, rainy day. Fragile. By the time was twelve, my mother would typically respond to my tears with "Don't get yourself all worked up!"
It evolved to a place where I became embarrassed by my uncontrollable emotions. They made me extremely vulnerable and, given most people's reactions, that vulnerability was met with an utter disinterest in engaging. I didn't want to make other people feel uncomfortable when I let my feelings out, so I instead opted for my own discomfort by holding them in. Eventually opting to ignore them or distract myself from them, instead.
Over time, I became incredibly skilled at hiding my tears.
So, what does this have to do with honesty? With learning how to be honest with other people?
From the age of about thirteen onward, I faked smiles, cried in the dark by myself, and found things to do with my hands and mind to distract me from my most anxious thoughts. I turned off my internal GPS. For most of my life. And I am only just figuring this out.
I found myself in a particularly broken place about two months ago. And I immediately ran to self-help books. LOL! Predictable. But, no, it wasn't so predictable this time. I started by reading this book on dating and love, but lost interest when I tumbled down the rabbit hole of thought habits and the immense power of thought. I started watching Tara Brach YouTube videos, starting with the one entitled "The Stories We Tell Ourselves" (thanks to a suggestion by my therapist...who is quickly becoming one of my favorite people). Then, I found them...THEM...Jerry and Esther Hicks and the channeled non-physical being(s) known as Abraham. I fell into the concept of the law of attraction and manifested some incredible moments in a very short period of time.
But the most important thing that I learned, and am learning, was/is about the power of my own emotions. I have the most amazing system to determining my inner spirit's direction in life and what I want and need, and it starts with letting myself feel, experience, and interpret my own emotions. When I feel sad, I need to know why I feel sad. And that can only happen after I allow myself to feel sad. Then, once I feel it, completely and without judgement, I can figure out what thoughts are provoking that feeling. What thought stories are making me feel out of whack. Like I am not honoring my true self. And only then can I change the thought(s). And feel better. And when I change those thoughts, I gain more clarity about what I want and need in order to feel balanced. And aligned.
And I am only just learning this.
I have been dishonest with myself and others by ignoring the way that I feel. By searching outside of myself for things that make me happy.
Only in the last month or so have I been able to speak my truth to others. To myself. I now know what my feelings do for me. And the fact that I feel them so intensely is a total blessing! I can immediately identify when my thoughts are taking me off track from my blessings. My emotions punch me in the face. It's like my inner self going "HEEEEY!! You are thinking the wrong thoughts. They are only going to call into reality what you truly do not want! Change your thoughts RIGHT NOW!"
And when I listen...when I change those thoughts...I figure out what it is I am really wanting at that moment. And it is utter relief.
I have figured out how to let my heart tell my mind what I want. And the anxious thoughts, the feelings they evoke, and the discomfort subside. And then, I can act in accordance with my truth. So, I say what I want and think and feel. And I tell others what my truth is. Openly and honestly. And in a way that doesn't feel like I am completely exposed and vulnerable and susceptible to hurt. Nothing can really hurt me in that moment. I feel at peace. And open in the most magnificent way.
I have not yet perfected how best to tap into this space, so I still have these bouts of anxiety and fear based thinking/acting. But, when I do remember to tap into my emotions and pay closer attention to how my thoughts make me feel, I am able to change them and act out of a place of confidence and certainty. And then, more deliberately, influence my reality.
While the pic on this post says "Honesty undoes anxiety," the funny thing is...the inverse is also true: "Anxiety undoes honesty." I just wish I had known all of this back when I was ten years old, crying in the movie theater parking lot. It was my truth. And what would have made me feel better is talking through my goals, ambitions, and hopes for the world around me. Having the chance to talk through better feeling thoughts, like all of the positive things I've seen in others and the incredible potential one individual has to spark change. I did not know that my feelings were being triggered by thoughts that were taking me away from my inner spirit and had me [spiritually] swimming upstream. I now know differently.
The first step is letting my emotions be my guide. Feeling them fully. And figuring out what thoughts and stories are creating them.
And so, this is how I've [finally] learned to be honest with others. And I am getting better at it everyday.