The term Radical Honesty sounds scary at first for most people. Nevertheless, I would take any bet that radical honesty describes a state that we are all truly longing for. Without exception.
The true meaning of radical
Let’s take a closer look: the term radical stems from the Latin word radix which means root. For most people radical sounds more like something extreme. Etymology however tells a different story. Radical means root. Looking at it this way radical honesty describes the kind of honesty that arises from deep within ourselves – our core, our essence. It’s a quiet place. Fine and sheltered. Not extreme. This is where radical honesty stems from and I hope this perspective softens the widespread fear of the radical a bit.
The true meaning of honesty
Honesty is more of a natural state than a special ability. Children would probably agree with me here. Without flinching they say things like: When you are sexing next time I’m gonna watch. I want to know how it works. or Dad, the way you dress you won’t find friends, ever. You find that embarrassing? Just imagine for a moment that you would never have to play a role again, never wear a mask, never bend over backwards and distort yourself to fit it. Wouldn’t that be freeing? You wouldn’t have to meticulously keep track of which version of the story you told to whom. You would be super relaxed and simply be yourself all the time. Of course we have politeness and decency for good reasons. So let’s take a closer look at what radical honesty is and what it is not.
Radical honesty is…
✅ sharing what you think but don’t dare to say.
✅ sharing what you truly feel.
✅ risking to be vulnerable.
✅ shining light on the shadows.
✅ lightening your load.
✅ connecting on a deeper level.
✅ listening actively.
✅ having compassion for yourself and others.
✅ sometimes disruptive and always transformative.
Radical honesty is not…
🚫 about sharing every single thought that comes to mind. Most of them are repetitive anyways.
🚫 about sharing every single emotion either.
🚫 about being hurtful. The message itself and the way of delivery are not the same thing.
🚫 only about heavy and negative topics. Some people have a hard time praising others for example.
🚫 about being in the spotlight
🚫 or hiding in a corner.
🚫 a special ability that you have to acquire. More so it is a natural state that needs to be rediscovered.
🚫 a space for gossiping.
🚫 talking ABOUT radical honesty. It is about being radically honest.
🚫 that scary after all. Quite the opposite actually!
In 1995 Brad Blanton wrote a book with the beautiful title: »Radical Honesty – How to transform your life by telling the truth«. You can learn his method worldwide. I heard that there’s even a radical honesty coach training! However, I neither read the book nor visited the seminars. But I’ve heard good things about both from different sources!
Why do we need radical honesty again?
We are living in a society where it has become absolutely normal to play different roles. We learned to carefully select what, when and how things are allowed to be said. Your boss, your colleague, your best friend, your parents – do they all know the same truth about you? Do they know who you really are?
When I was in primary school I studied them, the adults. I studied how they would lie to themselves and others. I believe they don’t want to but somehow they still do it. Maybe it’s learned, maybe it’s habit. Either way I found it extremely exhausting just to watch!
That’s why we need radical honesty: because we’ve alienated ourselves from who we truly are, because we miss the carefreeness and natural feeling of innocent honest connection.
Emanuel made a nice comment about the process: Radical honesty is like peeling an onion: you can gently remove layer by layer. It doesn’t have to be »from now on radical honesty only«. The journey goes step by step deeper and deeper.
In my book »Applied Spirituality for Bullshit-Free Living« there’s an entire chapter dedicated to radical honesty. It includes detailed explanations, illustrations and practical exercises. We start out looking at your own emotions and from there we go into relationships with others. The chapter that follows is titled communication and deals with interactions. How do we convey our truth best without hurting others?
At this point I would like to share a little anecdote with you from my own life. Practicing radical honesty ist not always pretty and elegant. After all we are also dealing with emotions like rage and anger. There are thoughts that we don’t even want to admit to ourselves. And now we should let all of this in and even share it with others? How will it come across? How will I be perceived by others?
My girlfriend for example used to be afraid of being seen as a bitch. It was for that reason that she suppressed a lot of things and build a certain level of judgement towards herself. We all have some deep rooted conditioning and this is part of hers. In order to tackle that we created the bitch-experiment. We decided to make our relationship into a safe space to show and communicate whatever and be whoever we want to be. For one month she allowed herself to be a bitch.
This month was quite exhausting but also very healing for both of us. Sometimes the pendulum has to swing from always nice to not nice at all to then find it’s alignment in the center. The bitch-experiment helped both of us grow and it strengthened our relationship. However, this doesn’t have to be for everyone. There are many ways to approach radical honesty. Listen within yourself – what does your intuition have to say about this?
In 2017 und 2018 my partner Rebecca and I hosted a weekly Honesty Session. In Basel, Switzerland people who didn’t know each other came together to be honest for 1-2 hours. It was unpleasant. There was lots of laughter. There were tears as well. We felt connected and all went home a little lighter and a little more free.
Practicing radical honesty
Together with my former coach-trainees Alma and Emanuel we offer honesty sessions again. Weekly, online and under the beautiful name of Tuesday is Truthday. We are looking forward to having you in one of our drop-in sessions! Learn more on www.truthday.ch.
*Title Image by Samuel Rodriguez via unsplash.com