Is Honesty Always The Best Policy?

Ever since we were kids, we were told to never lie. “Honesty is the best policy” never left us alone. I recollect many amusing situations this phrase has landed me in. Whenever my Mom didn’t wish to talk to one of her eerie friends, she would tell me to pick the phone and tell them that she’s not at home. But I always used to amuse myself by telling her that you taught me not to lie! My poor Mom then had to spend hours frowning over the phone just to make sure that I don’t tell my kindergarten teachers that my Mom taught me to lie! Well, I was a tough kid.

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Along the path of my growing up, I faced situations which made me stop and think whether honesty is really the best policy always. My friend’s younger sister was suffering from a terminally ill disease and the doctor gave an ultimatum that she didn’t have much time. We decided that we should be honest to her and broke the news to her with a heavy heart. She took it pretty bad and for the 2 months that she survived after that, she was a total zombie. She neither talked nor did anything else, just lay in her bed the whole day. Then we realized that we shouldn’t have told her the truth. Maybe she would have enjoyed her last days if we had just altered the truth. Maybe honesty is not always the best policy.

Let’s look at another scenario. Your best friend is going through a tough time and since you are her best friend too, she comes up to you and keeps blabbering about her life, her failures and how she has no one in the world except you. Well, once or twice you can handle it but if that happens every day, you find it quite hard to put up with her. Honestly, you just want her to stop and get herself together. You know she exaggerates a petty issue. But you can never tell her to stop crying over her past straight in the face. Some people need more time to adapt. Saying it loud on their face would break the bond that you share. Sometimes while airing your feelings, honesty may not be the best policy.

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When we talk about emotions of love, care, generosity and friendship, honesty is the best policy strongly holds. For example when you love someone, it’s mandatory that you go and vent out your feelings before it’s too late. In most cases, being honest gets you your soul-mate. So long story short, in cases of positive emotions, being honest pays off well.

But what about when we are angry, frustrated and build up that I-will-kill-you instinct? Should we confess how we feel or should we just deal with it ourselves? The actual reality is that we don’t need guns or knives to mortally hurt people close to us. Sometimes few words are enough to inflict a wound so deep that it hurts more than a knife. Your entire relationship and feelings can get buried with the vicious cut of an honesty-is-best-policy-tongue. It’s true that when feelings build up inside you, you need a channel to release them. Releasing them make you feel good and lowers the pressure bar. But as already said pooping out your real negative emotions may sometimes flush relationships down the toilet!

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It is sad that the education we receive teaches us to be honest but do not provide solutions on how to manage our negative feelings. Almost 90 % of intimate relationships trigger negative feelings and we end up mistreating the people we love by being ruthlessly honest. We might verbally give a heart attack to someone! Lashing out the big truth slashes your relationship in unimaginable ways. We may be relieved and argue that you gave the person what he/she deserves, but in the long term you pay a heavy price on your relationship and self-esteem. Some people end up repenting their entire life, “Why did I say that to her and let her go?”

But not to worry, I have good news. We are all human beings here. Every one of us has some skeletons in our closet. And we know how bad it feels when someone we love and adore verbally opens the closet and throws the skeleton at us, inflicting unstoppable pain. We all make mistakes and wrong decisions. But hurling the truth at somebody’s face only harms the relationship. We can even handle the situation with love. Let’s say you had a long, tiring and morbid day at your office and you return home to find your wife all excited about how her sister got engaged. You have no interest in hearing the story so you shout at her. Is that going to help? What if you give her kiss and tell her that you are really tired and would listen to the entire story once you take a bath and eat something up? Well, you are smart enough to guess which would lead to a long, happy marriage!

In the above case you are being honest too but in a different way. Going beneath the veneer of anger and speaking from the most vulnerable part of your emotional core is the ticket to arouse a feeling of empathy rather than verbally destroying the other person. This way you would be able to foster a blooming relationship based on the right kind of honesty.

Man and woman relaxing together.

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