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 there is nothing they can do to make you agree with it. You can carry out work or activities without believing they are the best choice. So regardless of whether you are disagreeing with one person or one million, you still always maintain the capacity to think your own thoughts and to therefore form your 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 like that. Because keeping 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 you don’t really want this 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. 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. And even then….
Have you heard of The Peace Pilgrim? On New Years Day of 1953 Mildred Ryder left her life behind and started walking across America as The Peace Pilgrim. 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, whereas 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 you.
So go ahead and keep your friends. But know that you’re only in a healthy relationship if you’re free to be yourselves. Because no one can tell Mildred that she wasn’t loved by people in deep and meaningful ways. So it’s not how long you’re with someone that counts. It’s how authentic the connection is. And that authenticity naturally emerges any time you openly express your Truth. Whether you’ve known the person for 5 minutes or five years.
Have yourself a wonderful day.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.