From a young age, we are taught to be honest. This is the socially accepted behavior — don’t cheat, don’t lie, tell the truth. Our upbringing revolves around being truthful with others, avoiding deception and insincerity in order to build fruitful and long-lasting relationships. Yet the most important form of honesty, which affects happiness, quality of life, and our relations with other people, is with respect to ourselves. In an increasingly convoluted world full of personal and professional responsibilities, instant gratification, and limitless options, we often overlook how important it is to be honest with yourself and your innermost feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken” — Oscar Wilde
Every day, the world around us stresses that we must be genuine and yet there is an immense pressure to conform. We observe the behavior of others along with the ‘best practices’ of society, feeling that we must align ourselves to be a reflection of what is portrayed around us. But at what expense? By following a path that was forged by others, are we suppressing our own personal quest? By emulating what we are told is right, are we really pursuing fulfillment or embarking on a journey that neglects our true wants and desires?
With respect to work, we seldom take the time to fully be open and transparent in a way that reveals what motivates and excites us. This is neither honest nor productive. If we were truly honest, in the greatest sense of the world, we would not set aside our hopes and dreams for some date in the distant future. We would not choose to optimize for stability and security rather than happiness. It is imperative that we remain honest throughout our internal search — whether for your career, social purpose, or ultimate calling. This requires us to ask difficult questions that uncover how we think and feel about our present situation and where we are headed. It means occasionally blocking out the noise that so often distracts us from the voice within.
In our personal relationships, we look for meaning by scanning the clues around us. We observe our friends’ relationships and draw inferences from popular media. Armed with an ability to tell right from wrong, we painstakingly look for a connection that is meaningful and gratifying. But have we stopped to ask ourselves what that really means? Have we taken the time to explore our vast expanse of thoughts and the range of connected emotions? Have we sought to understand if we really want a relationship now, or if we are simply looking to fill a temporary void? And if so, we must honestly identify the kind of connection we seek and the kind of person we envision letting into our life.
Being honest starts by looking in the proverbial mirror. We have already mastered how to trust others and how to be truthful in a way that builds trust and mutual understanding. Now it is time to do the same with the person who is most influential in your life — you. In order to minimize regret and unnecessary pain, we must grow to fully understand ourselves and to embrace who we are and what we feel in the most authentic way possible. The process is not easy, and it is not meant to be, but it will help you develop the most powerful relationship with yourself which will last a lifetime.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” — Mark Twain
We frequently find ourselves at a crossroads in life. It is at the very core of human nature to constantly find oneself, having lost a sense of purpose or direction. In these moments, we must acknowledge that the search never ends. We are always lost in some sense, and that is the beauty of life — it is an endless pursuit of discovery and rediscovery. We look inwardly to make sense of the world we see outwardly. And in that process, we must not silence our own voice. It is this voice that we must seek out in order to live a truly honest life, and the first place to look for it is within ourselves.
Originally published at medium.com