Hey there, it’s Graham here from The Confident Man Project. I want to recommend to you one of the best books that I've ever read in the field of personal development, and it’s called Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton. This is an absolutely fantastic book to read not just once but to read over and over because I find I keep having experiences in my life where I realize, “Oh, that’s what Blanton was rabbiting on about in that book about being honest.”
So the background of this radical honesty thing is that essentially the author outlines three different levels of honesty that we typically exhibit in our lives with other people. The first one is honesty about facts; things like talking about the weather, different ideas, things that are generally accepted to be true.
So that’s level 1, and it’s fairly easy to operate at level 1. Sometimes we get into conflict with people about their idea of the facts, but for the most part there’s a fairly general agreement on the facts. So it’s fairly easy to be honest with people about things that everybody agrees is true.
Now, level 2 is honesty about our thoughts, and our thoughts sometimes can move off into territory which disagrees with other people. So when we lack confidence, sometimes we tend to keep our thoughts to ourselves because we’re worried that if we put them out there people will judge us, they may criticize us, they may disagree with us, we may get into conflict which we don’t like. So level 2 is a little harder to maintain.
And then level 3 is honesty about feelings. So this is really being honest about everything that’s currently going on inside of us, how we feel, our internal drives and what’s really important to us in the present moment which is naturally how we feel.
Now, the aim of this book is to suggest that the more time that we spend operating at level 3 where we’re talking about our feelings and expressing them and showing them to other people while also expressing our thoughts and also facts and ideas, then basically the more connected with ourselves we will be and the more connected we will be with other people.
A lot of problems in life occur because essentially we've been trained to lie or we've been taught to lie or we've worked out at a fairly early age that lying is a better way of getting us what we want. But unfortunately the problem with lying is that not only are we lying to the people around us, but we hear ourselves lying and every time we say something that isn't really true or we hold back on saying something that is true, we limit ourselves and we end up containing our self-expression.
So when I say lying here, I’m not just talking about saying things that are blatantly untrue; lying is also a matter of withholding the truth, and that’s why Blanton in his book talks about this notion of radical honesty where we don’t hold back on telling the truth.
Now, what happens when you start doing this is that you’re naturally going to start exposing some of the areas of your life that have a bit of darkness around them. You’re going to start delving into your shadow side that you don’t normally acknowledge with other people.
I’d be willing to bet that you have thoughts, feelings and ideas running around your head that you’re ashamed of that you don’t want other people to know about. And the problem with keeping these thoughts, feelings and ideas to ourselves is that we never get over the shame about what’s really going on for us and what’s really going on in our head.
So we end up stuck in this kind of limited version of ourselves where we only feel free to expose to other people the things that we think are socially acceptable or morally acceptable or are okay to think.
Now, a lot of this stems from the notion that we’ve got this idea that certain thoughts and feelings are okay and other thoughts and feelings are not okay and not morally acceptable, and yet we all know that we experience thoughts and feelings that fall into that realm of what we think is not morally acceptable.
So we end up just beating ourselves up, feeling bad about ourselves, trashing our own self-esteem, all because we’re not willing to accept that we have thoughts, feelings and ideas going through our head that violate even our own moral principles.
So according to Brad Blanton, the way out of this dilemma is to start exposing these thoughts, feelings and ideas that go through our head so that we don’t have to keep this shame and bad this feeling about ourselves trapped inside ourselves; we can actually let other people know what’s really going on.
And the big irony of this is that when people hear us expressing thoughts and feelings that they have as well, they end up feeling more connected to us. You often see comedians doing this on stage, saying things that are funny, when really they’re simply acknowledging the thoughts and feelings that all of us go through in different situations.
And because somebody on stage has been able to verbalize this thought or this idea or this feeling that everybody has been feeling that’s perhaps not politically correct or morally acceptable, everyone just finds it hilarious because it’s a tension release. Keeping all this stuff inside us creates a huge amount of tension inside our body and inside our mind that, according to Blanton, is the cause of a lot of our psychopathology and our craziness and mental illness and just our lack of spiritual connection.
So when I first read the final chapter of Blanton’s book, I was like, “Well, this is kind of getting weird now because it’s off into this spiritual transcendence stuff and it’s talking about nirvana and all these ideas that are like enlightenment type stuff. Like, well, how does that relate to honesty?”
Well, it relates to honesty because when we start expressing these dark sides of our shadow that we keep repressed a lot of the time, we start to let go out of that tension that we store in our minds and in our body, and we start to experience this deep sense of peace which is characterized by transcendence, enlightenment, nirvana. You call it whatever you want; it’s basically that state where we’re just untroubled by the world.
And a lot of the trouble that we have with the world is really just trouble inside our own heads because we’ve been keeping a lid on these thoughts and feelings and ideas that we think are socially unacceptable.
So I highly recommend this book, Radical Honesty, by Brad Blanton. It’s an absolutely fantastic read, and as I said before, it’s one of those things where once you understand the concept, you’ve only really just understood the start of it. And then the more I go through life and encounter situations where I’m not operating at level 3, I’m not sharing how I feel, I’m not sharing what I really think and my ideas, the more I realize the impact of that, the more I keep going back to that’s what that Blanton guy was talking about and why it’s important to actually tell people how I’m feeling, what’s going on for me and all the stuff inside my head that I normally hold back on.
I highly recommend you check it out: Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton.