I’m a very honest and direct person. I love my friends but I can’t actually be honest around them because they don’t like to hear the truth. How can I be me and be honest and still keep my friends?
What an awesome question. It looks so easy and straightforward and yet it’s huge. Let’s start with something simple like: defining the truth. What you mean is, you give them your honest opinion. Because the only real truth is that there is no central, objective truth.
The only ‘truth’ is that we all create our psychological experiences the same way. We are largely blind to other perspectives and so it is impossible for us to evaluate which truth is best. So I applaud you being honest, I just want to make sure we’re not mistaking that for ‘the truth.’
Secondly, I’m not suggesting that you should devalue your truth just because it is only your own. Your view is legitimately yours and it is equal to all others. Now, in the external world other people might appear to have power due to the illusions created by ego, so to live with others you might have to live with someone else’s opinion.
But despite other’s opinions about you or your life, there is nothing they can do to make you agree with those views even if they can make you conform to them. You can carry out work or activities without believing they are the best choice.
Regardless of whether you are disagreeing with one person or one million, we all still always maintain the capacity to think our own thoughts and to therefore form our own entirely legitimate reality.
Third, can you see your ‘want’ in there? You want to keep your friends. You can’t be living in the moment if you’re thinking about a future outcome like that. It means you’re imagining a future where you still have the friends you have now. But if you’re thinking about a future, then you’re not focused on now. And yet if you focus on ‘now’ it’s amazing how wise you are.
You’ll do more useful, smart and productive things from that head-space than any other. So while friendship is very rewarding thing in a healthy life, the connection should feel more like it’s magnetic, than it being an obligation. You want to revel in the love you share, so you don’t really want such a strong ‘attachment’ to your friends anyway.
Can you see how you think you desire your friendships and yet you are actually trapped by them? You clearly wrote that being with your friends necessitates you not being yourself. Who doesn’t want to relax and be themselves? So if you can’t fully relax and be accepted by your friends then maybe these aren’t your friends.
This is not to say that you can’t be super friendly with them. Not to say you can’t love them. But your friends will accept you —all of you.
Have you heard of The Peace Pilgrim? On New Years Day of 1953 Mildred Ryder left her life behind and started walking across America under that name. By 1964 she had already walked more than 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) and she walked steadily until 1981!
She obviously met thousands and thousands of people along the way as she was offered food and lodging. She would have met all of these strangers and yet her interactions would have been authentic. Because they did not think they knew her, they gave her the freedom to be herself. To the contrary, you have performed being a less-direct and less-honest version of yourself, for the world, and so your friends now expect that person instead of the real you.
So go ahead and keep your friends. We all have to do our own cost-benefit analyses of our friendships. But know that you’re only in a healthy relationship if you’re all free to be yourselves. Because no one can tell Mildred that she wasn’t loved by people in deep and meaningful ways.
It’s not how long you’re with someone that counts. It’s how authentic the connection is in the moments we share. And that authenticity naturally emerges any time you openly express your truth. And your friends will accept that person whether you’ve known the them for five minutes or five years.
Have yourself a wonderful day.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.