“Intimacy is rooted in love, created in honesty, and maintained in truth.”
Just because we don’t wear Mardi Gras masks every day, does not mean that we don’t cover our true faces when we walk out of our front door. Most masks that humans wear cannot be seen and cannot be touched, but they should be taken off.
We’ve become so accustomed to putting on our mask that it’s become a subconscious action to hide everything that we are feeling from the world, but that subconscious action can forfeit the opportunity to tune into yourself, connect with others on a deeper level, and even develop a relationship with God beyond the surface. That is why today I want to get back to the basics of emotional honesty.
Emotional honesty is a skill and quite frankly it is a skill that I just learned myself a few years ago. As a child of the military, I’ve been raised to maintain composure at all times because emotions display weakness. While that trait has served me well in my career, the same thing that serves you well in your career does not always serve you in your personal relationships. A great relationship can be measured by the level of intimacy within it, and if there is no honesty then there is no intimacy.
Think of every single one of your personal relationships as a plant. Every plant needs water, sunlight, and nutrients delivered to its roots in order to grow. Emotional honesty is the sunlight to a relationship because it shines a light on the truth of who you really are including your insecurities and painful past. There is a misconception that you must hide all of the bad stuff if you want someone to love you, but the truth is you should bring light to it because that is what grows the connection between you and someone else.
It is the nutrients that bring growth to a relationship. One of the nutrients that a plant needs to grow is oxygen, signifying that you will breathe life into your relationship the more honest you are with your emotions. The flip side of that is that you also have the potential to kill your relationship by not constantly supplying it with the oxygen of emotional honesty that it needs to breathe.
Also, it is the water that a relationship needs to grow. Water is what helps the plant maintain “cell turgidity,” which in Layman’s terms means that water gives a plant the ability to stand strong and upright. Being emotionally honest gives your relationship the strength to keep standing even in the tough moments that may seem unbearable.
Practicing this simple concept of emotional honesty will transform your relationships. Start off small and make a conscious effort to pick one day a week where you commit to being 100% honest. When someone asks you how you are doing, tell them the truth. In your talks with God, spill out your heart and be honest with how you feel. I promise he’s strong enough to take your honesty. Sometimes God will not change what we don’t first acknowledge. Also, when your friend or partner asks what’s wrong with you, don’t turn your head and say “nothing”…tell them the truth.
Practicing this concept does not give you the excuse to walk around angry, depressed, or sad…even if that is how you truly feel. The key to being emotionally honest in a way that is beneficial to your relationships is to:
- State your current circumstance/feeling
- Declare what your future circumstance will be
Try not to let a negative feeling be expressed unless it is accompanied by a message of hope. For example, if someone asks you how you’re doing and you’re really not okay, an emotionally honest response is “I’m not good, but I will be.” If your relationship with your partner is on the rocks, say “I’m not happy with where our relationship is, but I know we’ll make it through this stronger than we were before.”
Being honest with yourself and others gives others the freedom and permission to be honest as well. And reciprocal emotional honesty is the only thing that creates the intimacy necessary to experience an everlasting relationship.