Liar, liar, pants on fire
Friday, September 21, 2007
By Jill Ramsey
The voice of truth
I hate to admit it, but I lie. I have realized we are not as honest as we believe we are.
Did you just tell yourself that this does not apply to you?
That is called lying. Admit it, you lie too.
“Sorry I’m late, the traffic was unbelievable.”
“I’ll call you right back.”
“I don’t know…”
“Well, I just wasn’t feeling well.”
There is a voice brewing inside most individuals waiting to be heard by
the outside world. It is a voice that some of us do not hear anymore.
It is the voice of truth. By us ignoring this voice we have built walls
that keep people from truly knowing our core. This makes us unable to
build solid relationships.
The truth of radical honesty
I recently read an article about “Radical Honesty,” a book written by
psychotherapist Dr. Brad Blanton. The book tells readers how to
“Transform [their] lives by telling the truth.”
When I first glanced at the topic, I assumed I would qualify as a radically honest person.
Blanton describes radical honesty as “a kind of communication that
is direct, complete, open and expressive. Radical honesty means you
tell the people in your life what you’ve done or plan to do, what you
think, and what you feel. It’s the kind of authentic sharing that
creates the possibility of love and intimacy.”
It sounds easy enough, right?
Radical honesty: the social experiment
I asked Ny Potter, junior, and Marshall Sayre, sophomore, to adopt
Blanton’s theories of radical honesty in their own lives. I challenged
myself to do the same.
Before honesty was our policy
Ny hates confrontations, and confesses to lying over the possibility
of hurting someone’s feelings. She typically keeps her feelings
inside, hoping her relationships will remain stable.
Marshall uses sarcasm to mask his feelings. People assume he is
joking, and he doesn’t correct them. Marshall lies to make people feel
he is a nice person, or to get out of a commitment when he is
overbooked. He vents to third parties to calm his fears of
I am a deceiver. I exaggerate the truth to keep face. My biggest
fear is being wrong, so I manipulate words to create fabricated ‘white
lies.’ I have an excuse ready for everything. Confrontations do not
bother me, but I use half-true stories to try to relate to others.
Confessions of truth
Marshall met a girl he wanted to date, but she has a boyfriend.
Instead of hesitating, he simply told her that she should break up with
her boyfriend to date him. She told him there is a chance she could be
He was able to talk to friends about bad relationships they were in, or how to improve their relationships.
Marshall’s friends responded well to his honesty and confided in him.
After being radically honest for 5 days, Marshall found that he did not
stay up all night worrying about situations. He is gentle in his
honesty, but has realized how freeing it feels to be radically honest.
I knew the first thing I had to give up was making excuses. I missed
an 8 a.m. class and instead of dramatizing a bad headache, I e-mailed
saying I turned off my alarm. I attached my assignment and asked him to
grade it. He wrote back saying he completely understood and had no
problem accepting it. I couldn’t believe it.
I rear-ended a car this week, and when the police officer asked me what
happened, I knew I could have tweaked the truth to get out of the
ticket. I looked him in the aviators and told him I ‘looked down’ and
was not watching when I accelerated.
The guilt of making a mistake was relieved by taking ownership of it.
For 2 months I have kept inside my feelings for a guy I like. After
awkwardly trying to put my words together, I said it. It felt so good
to finally let out all the fears and insecurities that had been
building inside of me.
He was surprised by my confession, but responded well to my honesty. He opened up to me, and now our communication has depth.
Blanton’s results matched mine. As Ny, Marshall, and I overcame the
fears that caused us to lie, we gained relief. Our relationships were
strengthened and deepened.
In our culture of polite lies we have lowered our standard of intimacy.
We think hiding behind our fears will allow us to maintain control and
keep our insecurities in check. In turn, we are simply denying
ourselves the opportunity to truly give and receive love.