Some Things I Have Learned About Dishonesty
I learned about emotional dishonesty a few years ago and it changed my life.
- •I always thought dishonesty was just lying, cheating, and stealing, but there is so much more to it.This list is not meant to be preachy or condescending. I know about these because I have been chronically guilty of all of these. It has made my life better—and made me saner—to work to avoid subtle dishonesty as much as I can. I definitely don't do it perfectly. The most helpful thing I have learned is that I am powerless over anyone else's choices, and they are powerless over mine.
- •Judging someone is dishonest.I only see a snapshot of someone's life. Fabricating a story that justifies my judgement of them is dishonest. I don't know their struggles or their motives. I don't know the whole story. I don't know what it's like to be them or the whole of what they have been through. Even if it's my mom or dad or spouse or kid, I cannot know everything they think or feel. Maybe they are spiritually, emotionally, or physically sick. Would I want to be judged by a snapshot?
- •If I am going to make up a story, create one that causes kind feelings toward the person.The guy cutting me off in traffic may be rushing to the hospital to be with his dying child. The rude librarian might be desperately trying to leave an abusive relationship. I don't know the whole story. Err on the side of kindness and tolerance.
- •Blaming someone for doing what they believe to be right is dishonest.I don't have to agree with what they believe to be right, but blaming someone for doing what they believe to be right is dishonest. Maya Angelou said, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." Maybe they don't know any better. Or maybe I don't. Would I want to be blamed or judged for doing what I believe is right?
- •Blaming someone for doing the same thing I do or have done is dishonest.This is hypocrisy. I am a compulsive eater. My judgment of someone struggling with addiction (like alcoholism) is hypocrisy. It's not the same, and yet it's exactly the same. I may be further along my path and understand things better, and it is hypocritical to think myself better than someone who is still learning what I also desperately needed to learn. Would i want someone to blame me for doing the best I could, especially if they had done the same thing?
- •Blaming someone for a choice I make is dishonest.Sometimes I called this manipulation. Sometimes I called this people-pleasing. I am an adult and can choose for myself. Would I want someone to agree to do something they didn't want to do and resent or blame me for it?
- •Yes means yes. No means no.If I say yes when I mean no, that's on me. If I resent you for a choice I made, that's on me. You may try to affect my choice. You may try to get your way, but ultimately, I am responsible for my choices. It is much kinder to say nicely, "That doesn't work for me," than to say yes to something that causes me to hate you. Saying yes when I mean no is dishonest.
- •Having an expectation of someone that they cannot or will not meet is dishonest.Expectations are premeditated resentments, especially if I know a person will not or cannot meet it. I am scheduling a resentment. Would I want someone to have unfair expectations of me?
- •No one owes me anything.I repeat, no one owes me anything. I don't owe anyone either. If I give a gift, give it without expectation. No one owes me a thank you, a birthday present on my birthday, a like on my list (or a relist or comment). The expectation makes it a transaction, not a gift. If I give of myself, my time, or my means, do it without expectation. Let it be a genuine gift. Don't keep score.
- •I do not have to accept a behavior, but if I DO accept a behavior, it is dishonest to hold a resentment, even if they do it again.This is a bitter pill to swallow. If I know what someone is capable of, (i.e., a spouse that cheats, a friend who betrays) it is dishonest to expect them to be anything different than they have shown me they are. I don't have to accept their behavior, but if I do, it is dishonest to resent them for it. It is my choice to stay with them and it is dishonest not to own my choice.
- •Always ask myself: would I want that done to me?