Is Honesty Always a Good Idea?
For many of us it is uncomfortable to be brutally honest with people for fear of hurting their feelings. It’s human nature to avoid uncomfortable situations, so sometimes we don’t speak the truth or tell little white lies. Interestingly, even back in 250 B.C.E. when the Yoga Sūtras were written, truthfulness, satya in Sanskrit was contemplated in detail. It is one of the 5 yamas, or guiding principles for how to treat others.
Satya encourages us to be honest with ourselves and with others, BUT honesty is NOT recommend if it would cause harm. This practice builds upon the first yama, ahimsā, which translates to non-harming. Applying ahimsā to the way we speak means that we maintain the intention to be honest, but in a way that does not hurt anyone. Words are such powerful tools, and the yoga philosophy asks that we use them in a way that lifts people up versus putting them down. Your thoughts and words help shape your environment. So speak in ways that create a compassionate, loving life for yourself and those around you.
A good rule of thumb is if it’s not beneficial to say, then don’t say it.
Michael Stone, an author, yoga and meditation teacher, psychotherapist and activist, developed a simple process that is helpful to guide us to speak with integrity. We adapted his process into a checklist for you to use the next time you aren’t sure if being honest is the best policy. Before you speak ask yourself the following:
Is what I want to say true? If not, then don’t say it.
If so, then is it beneficial to the person? If not, then don’t say it. If what you say is harmful to the person, it’s better to say nothing at all.
If so, then will the person hear what I have to say? This asks you to consider if the person is in the right frame of mind to listen to what you have to say. If the person is in a bad mood or preoccupied with a project, they might not hear you or may take what you say the wrong way. If not the person is not in a place where they will truly listen to you, then wait for an appropriate time.
If it is truthful, beneficial and the timing is right, then say it!
This type of honesty cultivates intimacy which truly connects us, which is really all we want and is at the very heart of yoga. The goal of the yoga philosophy is to bring awareness to the fact that everything is interconnected---WE ARE ONE!
We recommend that you try using this process for a week and experience the positive impact it makes in your relationships.
About the Author: Tambra Wayne is the founder of OM Matters, an eco-friendly yoga clothing line that contributes 10% of sales to support yoga for at-risk youth. Her intent is to create a business that exemplifies the philosophies of yoga beyond the physical practice and is passionate about inspiring people to bring mindfulness into their everyday lives. Click HERE to learn more. And here is a special 15% off the new Om Revolution Collection for our readers: use coupon code: OM REV