“An honest answer is the sign of true friendship.” -Proverbs
Have you ever had a lengthy conversation with someone without acknowledging a single thing you were really thinking or feeling?
Maybe someone asked, “How are you?” And, instinctively, you said, “Not too bad.” Or “Yeah, I’m ok, you?” Or someone asked, “What’s new?” And your instant response was, “Not much.” Or someone asked your opinion, and you glossed over what you really think to avoid making waves.
I suspect we do this because we don’t want to burden people with what’s really on our minds, open ourselves up to judgment, or somehow upset them.
The end result is polite withdrawal. We keep things simple, courteous, and completely lacking in truth. It’s a choice to be alone together, sharing space, but little else; connecting without really engaging.
We rob people – friends or family of the opportunity to be there for us when we don’t share what we actually think and feel. We also send a message that we are not the type of friends who will really be there for them.
It can be scary to speak what’s really on your mind, particularly if you need some guidance and feel vulnerable admitting that you don’t have everything figured out. The truth is, no one does. Sometimes we all need to lean on each other–and that only works if we’re all willing to be honest.
A few days ago, a friend caught me off guard and started talking to me when I had a lot on my mind and felt overwhelmed. When I was asked how I was instead of the usually “Yes, I’m fine, how are you” deflection I opened up and shared what was on my mind. As the end of the conversation I was equipped with some strong advice, encouragement and more direction that I knew would help me going forward.
After the, I felt like I’d made a deeper connection with a friend, and it happened really simply: She was honest with me, I was honest with her, and we met each other as equals, each with our own strengths and weaknesses.
We’re all equals. We’re all struggling with something. We’re all working to let of something. We’re all working to embrace something else. The world would be a far less lonely place if we could remember this and just be honest.