all presented with an occasional opportunity to say
something, do something, or go somewhere that we know from
experience will put us in an unpleasant or even dangerous
setting. The classic example is an invitation to a
recovering alcoholic to be around individuals who drink
heavily. Sometimes, of course, there are
work-related occasions that are mandatory, but often a
good excuse can get you out of almost anything. Yet
many people won't allow themselves this option because of
their one-sided definition of honesty.
Let's consider what the "honest" answer would be
to such an invitation: "No, I won't come
because you and your friends get so drunk and boring that
I'm afraid I might start drinking again. In case you
didn't know it when you hired me, I'm a recovering
alcoholic." This may be honest, but it
certainly won't lead to greater understanding, deeper
friendship, or more job security. It's only half
truthful because even though it verbally reflects the mood
and opinions of one person, it doesn't give equal
consideration to what the other person hears.
The real questions are, Does this brand of honesty lead to
increased awareness? Does it inform or does it
obscure? If true honesty is an absence of deceit,
then the new, popular way of being honest is a path to
Today, the ideal of
being verbally literal has been raised to religious heights.
It is central to separation psychology, which aims to define,
distinguish, and "empower" each separated ego. For
instance, notice that when people say, "I need to be honest
with you," they usually follow with a speech of attack,
abandonment, or betrayal.
Occasionally, I am asked to counsel an "at-risk" teenage
girl who may have a history of falsely accusing people in
authority. To put her in a situation where she could be
tempted to make this mistake again would not be helpful to her or
me. So I always talk to her where other people can see us at
all times. But I am not "honest" about this, because
she would not benefit from thinking that I didn't trust her.
I'll say, "I'd like to get out of this office. Why don't
we walk over to the park?" (where there are lots of people).
Today, perhaps the most destructive application of ego honesty is
occurring within primary relationships. Many relationships
founder before they ever get started because both partners think
they must confess every sex act they ever had or thought of
having. Note that these confessions lead to greater
misunderstanding. They deceive, not enlighten.
Nevertheless, advocates of "honesty" have left no aspect
of marriage and family untouched. In the name of openness,
partners are supposed to update each other on every negative thought
and emotion they have, even though thousands of other thoughts and
feelings are not voiced. If husbands or wives have erotic
dreams about someone other than their partners, out of the hundreds
of things they dream about, these are the ones they must
recount. If a parent is contemplating divorce, the kids must
be informed because this is "the only honest thing to
do." If one parent catches the other parent in an affair,
they must "come clean" and tell the children what Dad or
Today we try to make our words reflect "how I've been feeling
lately," but we don't ask, "Where within me are these
feelings coming from?" We concentrate on making each word
a literal reflection of what only part of us is temporarily
feeling--yet we ignore other feelings and convictions, as well as
how the other person hears our words and what inaccurate conclusions
she or he comes to.
The new honesty is about what we say, not about what we communicate,
and as such is another version of "appearances are
everything." It, like all other aspects of separation
psychology, is "all about me" and disregards
relationship--our effect on each other. . . .
The fact is that whenever we talk to someone, two conversations take
place. There is of course the subject matter of the words
being spoken. But rarely is that where the true importance of
the exchange lies for either party.
this little book on mental cleansing, Prather
uses personal stories as well as step-by-step
exercises to help readers understand the
rewards and the process of letting go. For
example, in the section on letting go of guilt
and hurtful actions, Prather suggests that for
at least one day readers "rise from sleep
and make your purpose only this: 'I will go
through this day harmlessly. I will hurt no
one in my thoughts or in my actions, including
myself.'" Prather includes numerous
similar kinds of assignments in all of his
chapters, including how to let go
"Misery," "Prediction and
Control," and "Spiritual Specialness."