When you hear the term “Radical Honesty” — how does it make you feel? Anxious? Suspicious? Curious?
For me, it’s full-on excitement with a dash of hesitation. Why hesitation? Radically honesty can be painful. It can sting. But it can also liberate in ways nothing else can.
And I’m on a mission to incorporate more of it into my life — every day.
First, let’s define “Radical Honesty” so we’re on the same page. The best definition I found was from none other than RadicalHonesty.com (hah!), founded by Brad Blanton, Ph.D. He says,
“Being Radically Honest means you tell the people in your life what you’ve done and plan to do, what you think, and what you feel. It’s the kind of authentic sharing that creates the possibility of love, intimacy, aliveness, and action.”
But to further clarify what sets Radical Honesty apart, he goes on to share,
“Radical Honesty is not to be confused with a moral obligation to tell the truth. It is a pragmatic, functional path to reduce human suffering through sharing in-depth and detail what you feel, what you think, what you have done, and what you want.”
The way I like to see it is this — honesty is about morality. But being Radically Honest isn’t about morality at all. It’s about sanity. It’s about freedom. It’s about the continual grooming we must do every day to stay true to ourselves in a world that would have us dressing in costume and singing songs we don’t like.
It’s being R E A L. And we need more of it — the right way.
It’s very important to separate the type of Radical Honesty we’re discussing from the cut-throat, chop-your-head-off variety that folks love to highlight whenever this subject comes up.
This isn’t about winning the argument or gaining an advantage. It’s actually about being vulnerable. Opening ourselves up. Revealing the root of the issue. Risking rejection.
But it’s also about compassion. For ourselves and the other person. It takes into account that although our honesty is warranted, it might be difficult for the other person and therefore we are very intentional about how it’s shared.
Being Radically Honest looks like telling our partners the hard things no one wants to say out loud. Telling our boss why we’re really late. Telling ourselves what we don’t want to admit.
When it comes to being Radically Honest with other people, I go through these three steps: 1) Recognize there’s a reason to be Radically Honest, 2) Ensure that person is open and available for it, and 3) Do our best to be kind in its delivery.
The best part? It can AND should also be applied when being Radically Honest with ourselves.
And no, I haven’t got this mastered. My friends and family would laugh at such an idea… much less my inner voice. My double-Sagittarius ego suffers from foot-in-mouth disease and my brain likes to freeze up during confrontation. I often fail at being Radically Honest in a smooth way, but I’m getting better.
It’s not easy, but the rewards always equate to freedom. For ourselves and the other person involved — if there is one.
We need Radical Honesty to be true to who we are. To what we experience. To how we view the world. To let others know where we stand and how our boundaries align. To make decisions, choices, and opportunities. To be sane.
And if you’re sitting there thinking, YEA RIGHT, it’s okay — we aren’t taught to be honest, much less Radically Honest. Sure, maybe our parents said “don’t lie” and even punished us for doing so. But we saw them lie constantly! Telling their friends they had other plans when they didn’t. Telling people they were great when they weren’t. It was all very confusing to us as children and now we have mixed feelings about being honest. We constantly question “can I reallllllly do that?”
Because being honest is TOUGH, much less Radically Honest. And yet, it’s so important.
Being Radically Honest is good for our health. It gives us more energy and confidence when we express ourselves truthfully. It is good for our relationships. We know who’s really supposed to be in our life by the way they handle the Radical Honesty club. It’s good for our professional lives. Would we really spend our entire lives doing a job we hate for a boss we hate if we were Radically Honest with ourselves? And how much nicer would our working relationships be if we knew that we could be Radically Honest in a safe environment?
Join me by adding more Radical Honesty into your life. Don’t forget to sprinkle in compassion. And know that especially on the front end, it might look messy and awkward for a while (trust me! haha) and that’s okay.
It’s never easy to go against what we’ve been taught or how we’ve been conditioned. But damn is it rewarding.
PS Radical Honesty is one of my favorite subjects so look out for more articles where I break this down for individual areas in our life. Yay!