One of the questions that often used to pop up in my mind after i became single again is this – where does one even begin in order to be in a happy relationship? While things like knowing your values helps, we can’t get to that place if we are not completely honest with ourselves. I learnt this lesson the hard way after going through years of drama in my previous relationships. At some point, i decided to strip away all the doubts, fears and useless self justifications, and challenge myself to living authentically. A lot of people seem perplexed by the meaning of living honestly. If you’re not cheating others, isn’t that being honest? Well.. actually no, because apart from being honest with others around us, we have an equal responsibility to be honest with ourselves!
I’ve said this time and time again, in order to be in a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship you have to first be clear on who you are, what’s important to you, what are your expectations, what you will and won’t put up with in a relationship and life in general. Basically, these are your personal values. Being honest to yourself will help you figure out what your values are. Honesty is living your life in accordance with your values even if that means making uncomfortable decisions like choosing to let go of people that don’t respect them.
So, how does one ‘become’ more honest? There is no set formula for this, because values are a personal thing. You need to ask yourself a few things – What do you want? really want? Are you acting in line with what you want? or you profess to want one thing and act completely opposite to that.. for example, it’s not uncommon for some women to say that they want to be in a stable drama free relationship and yet they chase after men who won’t give them time of the day or those that engage in passive aggressive behavior etc.
Thing is, it‘s very easy to say something, but being honest is not just about saying what you feel, it’s also about following up your words with the appropriate action. In other words – your feelings, words and actions on something must be the same in order to live honestly.
That’s the difficult bit. If you have built up a lifetime of people pleasing habits, it’s not going to be easy to change it but trust me it’s worth it. Impressing others or having a relationship at the cost of losing yourself is living a lie. You’d rather be alone than be in a relationship that takes away your sense of self and purpose in life. I remember trying to be ‘cool’ in order to conform to my emotionally unavailable ex’s lifestyle, where being cool basically meant trying to get his approval and for him to be interested in me. In the end, i felt like i was losing myself and thankfully snapped out of it. I vowed to never again say or do something i don’t believe in 100% in order to fit into a relationship. If someone cannot accept what you stand for, then they can buzz off. This is not high school and you’re not a teenager, this is the school of life where you have to learn to stay true to yourself no matter what.
Even if you manage to ‘win’ someone over by forgetting your values or deluding yourself, you’ll still be unhappy because you’ve compromised on things that are important to you which actually enable you to lead a fulfilling life. Whether you’re compatible with them or not, they will lose respect for you. This is because you’ve already shown them that you don’t respect yourself enough.
No matter how much you justify your actions to yourself, the truth is that at some point you have to get off the imaginary ride and come back to reality if you really want the things you profess to want. There is no point in acknowledging that you feel uncomfortable or compromised in certain situations or a relationship if you don’t take the necessary action to get out of there. Honesty is about having the guts to follow up on the evidence that things are not quite right. You can’t be honest and fear doing what feels right at the same time. You have to ask yourself, are you able to be yourself in the relationship? If not, why is it that you’re not doing anything about it? what is it that you’re afraid of?
Do you fear that you’ll lose out on the ‘relationship of a lifetime’ by being yourself?
Do you fear that you won’t ever find anyone who accepts you for who you are? Because you won’t accept you for who you are?
Do you fear being alone?
Do you fear that in trusting your own judgement, you may be proved wrong and hence it’s better carry on being in a situation that doesn’t feel right?
Do you fear having to start all over again with someone else and putting yourself out there so you rather be stuck in an uncomfortable yet familiar situation?
Do you fear that in listening to yourself and acting in line with that feedback will make you confront other issues from the past that may need addressing?
Whatever it is that you fear, own up to it. It’s ok, and tell you what it’s much more honest than cribbing about how you got the short end of the stick in pretty much every relationship you’ve had while ignoring the fact that aside from engaging with men who were no good for you, it is YOU who chose to persist with those relationships. Owning up to your fears will enable you to accept the reality for what it is. Where are these fears coming from? What can you do today to live your life in a way that enables you to be yourself and feel secure? Being honest with yourself will help you lead a life free of anxiety and drama and move into a more positive place.
What do you think?