How sincere are we to ourselves?
It pays to enrich oneís honesty :
What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott
Two years ago, I received a cheque for Rs. 87,250.00 as payment of an
insurance claim for damages my car suffered in a traffic accident. About
2 weeks later, 1 received another cheque for an identical sum from the
same insurance company. When 1 mentioned this blunder to some friends,
they asked me what Iíd done with the second cheque. ďSent it back, of
course, with an explanatory note,Ē I answered.
They howled in disbelief. Every one of these decent, respectable
people said, I should have kept both cheques. I was surprised, and
thought to myself, ďAre we all dishonest?Ē
How about you?
Would you perjure yourself for money? If the answer is no, thatís
fine! But think again. How about your last income-tax returns. Have you
declared the true, correct, and complete information? If itís yes, you
earn the points. Yet, many taxpayers either under-report their income,
exaggerate their expenses or make some other error in their favour.
Would you steal a small item when you return from a visit to one of
your friends? Of course not. But from a hotel one might. Hotel owners
estimate, one third of the guests appropriate some item, from clothes
hangers to writing pad to bed linen from their rooms.
These are respectable people who tell themselves theyíre just picking
up a souvenir.
Would you try to collect money youíre not entitled to, by submitting
a false insurance claim? Before you say no, think: Have you ever cajoled
a repair shop owner into falsifying your repair estimate to gain a
better insurance claim?
Would you pinch cash from your bossís safe? Certainly not. Consider,
though, expense-account padding on your subsistence bill.
If dishonesty stems from a lack of trust, what does it mean when we
lie to ourselves? And how much damage does it do us in the long run, to
not trust our own feelings or actions? Most times we know when weíre
lying to ourselves , we glimpse the truth in our own actions and we
excuse or justify that truth away.
Can you be truly honest? Do you have what it takes to approach the
world, full of trust? Not stupidly or naively, you donít have to reveal
your income tax details to everyone who asks, although you donít have to
lie about why you wonít disclose it, either.
If you could be totally honest, at least with people who matter most
in your life, what would change? Would it be better or worse? Finally,
if you could be totally honest with your own self, would you be happier
or sadder? These questions are worth examining, honestly.
There are numerous situations that could test our resolve to be
completely honest. The tendency seems to start in childhood, when we
want to avoid punishment. Fear gets the better of us, and we say
something in an effort to avoid the consequences of whatever it was that
If it works, then we just saw proof that lying is less painful and
requires less courage than honesty.
Since moving away from pain is the strongest human motivator, we
quickly learn to fall back on dishonesty anytime we think it will spare
us from the painful consequences.
For some, this tactic is reserved for only the stickiest of
situations, while for others, lying becomes their strategy of choice and
as long as they donít get caught they feel no guilt or remorse. Anytime
we need to justify our actions, we know we are doing something wrong.
Making excuses may soothe our mind temporarily, but doesnít do
anything for the internal conflict that is created.When we deliberately
do something that violates our core ethics, it sets in motion a
destructive emotional conflict.
The end result will be the slow erosion of our core values or the
manifestation of some self-sabotaging behaviour. Either way, we lose!
Do you want to be honest to yourself?
These four ways will help to become even more honest and tactful.
1. Set the record straight. Are there times when you have been less
than honest in the past? Having the courage to review your past offences
may cause some discomfort, but recognizing where you have tweaked the
truth can help identify patterns and stop them from continuing.
2. Practise honesty in little things. There is a tendency to think
itís permissible to add a little harmless flare to the little things,
where nothing is at stake. The problem is, if we are dishonest in little
things it will carry over to more meaningful areas. It is better to
develop honest habits in areas that require less courage, first, so we
can build up our integrity to face the more difficult challenges.
3. Honestly emphasize the positive. Just because we are being honest
doesnít mean itís our job to point out the faults and shortcomings of
others. If we focus on the positive, our honest evaluation of people and
situations can be both refreshing and encouraging.
4. Donít confuse preferences with reality. It is easy to colour our
view of reality based on our personal likes and dislikes. In order to be
honest with others we need to recognize that our personal preferences
donít change reality. They only change how we feel about certain things.
Being honest doesnít mean we are obliged to express our feelings on
Honesty has never been easy. The highest morality involves sacrifice,
choice and a deep sense of responsibility, to others, as well as
oneself, to strangers as well as oneís family, to institutions as well
as individuals. It is a small price to pay if we are to live together in