February 2017
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the difference between openness and honesty
I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between openness and honesty. I used to think they were synonymous, but more and more I realize how completely different they are.
  • Honesty is answering truthfully when asked a question, without trying to hide or deceive.
  • Openness is offering truths without having to be asked. It doesn't mean you go around telling everything to everyone, but that you share freely with those who show interest.
Obviously you must be honest to be open, because if you are dishonest, you do not share truth, whether freely or begrudgingly. But you do not have to be open to be honest.

For a long time I worked on simply being honest -- it's harder than it seems. It's so easy to offer small lies or vague statements which serve to mask your true self -- hard to steel yourself to answering honestly when society expects pretty lies rather than uncomfortable truth. Being honest means people will consider you rude, crass, impolite. That stranger doesn't want to hear the truth when they say 'how are you' -- but 'fine' is one of the most common lies in the English language. Refraining from uttering that lie is a battle.

But I know many people who are honest -- I try to avoid people who aren't at least on the path to honesty. Openness is another thing entirely; I know very few who are even moderately open. Honesty is passive: openness is active. Open people seek to share, and to listen to others share.

Openness is a far harder battle, because rejection costs so much more with openness than it does with honesty. Honesty is about refusing to wear a mask -- openness is about exposing your inner self. Openness is about being vulnerable, offering not just your thoughts but also your feelings and beliefs. Openness is asking for help when you need it; sharing intensely painful or joyful experiences; sharing your emotions; sharing that which is sacred to you.

Also, honesty is simply telling what you know: openness requires learning who you truly are, looking deep into yourself in order to share what you find there.

Openness is a VERY painful journey, but oh, so worth it. An open person has little to fear from close relationships -- they have no secrets, they know they are loved for who they are. And people have little to fear from an open person, because they know where they stand with that person, and they can trust that person not to harbor hidden resentments or dislikes. They can relax, because they don't have to wonder if the other person secretly hates them, but is 'being nice' and hiding it.

I firmly believe that true freedom can only be found in true openness.


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Comments
It's weird because even though it makes total sense that others have nothing to fear from an open and honest person, my experiences have been otherwise. People often feel intimidated by it and prefer you 'play the game' instead of saying how you really feel or what you really want. The 'how are you I am fine' scenario has always bothered me. I also don't particularly care about having to be socially correct and saying 'good morning' to people I don't know or care about. What if it's not a good morning? What if I'm not fine? None of these people really care to know the truth. They're just participating in societal niceties which are socially correct. I hate that so much.
belenen honesty
So true... because when people are faced with truth, any truth, even the simple one of how you're really feeling, they FEEL the slime of their own lies. They can't help feeling that, but they CAN run away from it, so they usually do.
This post is completely true. It is something that I too have struggled with for a really long time. Another thing I have a hard time with is trusting the openess of others; I have serious trust issues as is, and it's been a long hard road to learn to trust anyone. It's painful, but I keep reaching to be more open and to accept others as more open.
belenen progressing
It's painful, but I keep reaching to be more open and to accept others as more open.

I really do believe that every single action ripples out to impact every person, even if it's only in a small way, so your striving for openness and trust is helping me (and you, and others). So thank you. *hugs*

It's hard for me to trust too... but I've gotten to the point where I honestly believe that the pain (which I now expect, rather than blindly thinking it won't happen) is worth the joy, and that helps me with trusting.
What a wonderful way to look at it. I've honestly never even thought of it that way, but it's so incredibly true; the reward is almost always worth the price.
i was thinking about this just the other day. Openess is a very difficult thing for me. Growing up whenever there was a problem, no one talked about it and then after a time it just "went away". Like if you were mad at someone you were just grouchy towards them for a while and then that was it, nothing was ever dealt with. Which makes it very difficult for me to express certain emotions. I can't even put thme into words for myself much fo the time.
belenen analytical
I know what you mean -- my family was the same way. I just always rebelled against it inwardly, and when I moved out, my natural expressiveness began slowly to surface. I still have to think hard before realizing how I feel.
i so dreamed about you last night.

i can't go into it now, because i'll miss my bus. but i shall tell you soon.
belenen dreamy
you mean this one?

--------------------
I dreamed of my beautiful belenen and alariya. Nothing really made sense, as it was all symbolic. I was on a vivid violet stream, coasting down it on my butt. The walls were dark purple, almost a purplish black, but I could see fine because the stream under my rear glowed. It didn't make me get wet, it was solid, but flowed like a small river, turning this way and that, and carried me along with it. I was a bit scared as to where it would take me, but as I looked to my left, I saw my beautiful alariya grinning from ear to ear and waving encouragement to me happily. She said something telepathically in my mind like "you can do it, I know you can! I believe in you!". The river sped up, and I became a bit nervous, but knew if my 'Riya was confident, I would be fine. I hit the end of the river and was thrown into the air with a jolt... and landed in the waiting, comforting arms of belenen with a giant hug.
-----------------

That really does sound like both of us... Ashley is SO the bouncy encouraging type... and I am so the comforting-praising at the end type. And a glowing vivid violet river! I'm so jealous! ;-D And it made me grin so wide, the thought of me being there to catch you and hug you. *loves you*
even thinking of that dream now brings me great happiness, thank you :) brings me inner peace, though the idea of sliding ANYWHERE on my rump is a bit unnerving ;)
aslan_fan confident
I have a secret.
I can tell who does and does not secretly judge me, without the openness thing. It's simple: Do they talk to me about things they don't like in other people? If they do, then I know that there is something in me that they judge too. (I'm not perfect. Doubtless that person has seen that.) It's not that that person doesn't love me; they simply process information they learn about people by analyzing and discerning them up and down, and many times that turns into judgement.
The "opennest" person in the world could still be secretly judging friends .
Guess what.
I was thinking the other day, and I realized that even THIS post is judgemental...isn't it? Really, I shouldn't judge whether someone judges me just because that person judges others.
:)
Oops! I have A LOT of growing to do!!!
Love you Bel! Good post!
belenen amused
Re: Guess what.
love you too, ya-ya! ;-)
belenen shimmering
Re: I have a secret.
In my opinion, 'judging' is when you stamp a person with their actions -- like, you see them lie so you call them a liar, or you see them wear skimpy clothes so you say they're trampy. You never know everything that goes on in their lives, nor do you know their secret motives, so you aren't qualified to judge -- only God is. Discernment is totally different -- that's when you see them do an action, and you see how that action affects you, and if it's negative, you discern that you need to pull away or put up stricter boundaries to keep them from affecting you negatively. It still allows for complete understanding.

I don't think it has to do with disliking things in people -- THIS IS JUST MY OPINION -- I think that I will always always dislike lies, so if a person lies a lot, I will withdraw from them. But I will not call them a liar -- that is not my place. I have no idea what their motives are, but I do know that being around them will affect me negatively, so I will not be around them much.

I think that it is okay to not like everything about everybody. I think it is impossible to like everything about everyone -- we all have flaws. I don't expect someone to like it if I have a habit of slapping people in the face, and I certainly would dislike it if someone else had that habit. It's okay to judge the ACTION -- it's just not okay to judge the PERSON by the actions. My old friend Sylvia used to lie all the time, because she was insecure. I didn't think of her as less of a person for that, but I did recognise that she was in fact lying, and I didn't LIKE that she lied. I still admire her and love her so much, and in my mind she holds the title "loving friend" not "insecure liar." (it makes me feel bad just to type that!)

So... I disagree. I don't usually go around talking about things I don't like in other people, just because it's useless unless you're asking for advice. But at the same time, if I mentioned that I didn't like it that someone was rude to me, that wouldn't mean that I was secretly judging you! If I thought you were rude to me, I wouldn't think to myself "elya is rude" -- never! -- instead I would say, "whoa, I don't like that she did that. I should talk to her and find out what's going on -- maybe I offended her, maybe she was just stressed out."
I think I'm only really open to those that I feel i can trust. But I'm honest. I mean, everyone is not 100% honest. If someone is wearing the grossest sweater I ever saw, and they asked me what i thought of it, I'm not the one to hurt anyone's feelings, so i'll just say something in the middle I guess. "It's intresting"...somewhere along those lines. I have a lot of past that I dont talk to anyone about except to those closest to me or the ones I feel like I can trust. It's not a bad past or anything. But I agree with your statement. "Openness is a VERY painful journey". Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this subjecy. A lot people need to read something like this in order for them to truly understand the differences, to help for future references.
belenen analytical
Thank you.
shioneh open
I loved this post bel. i agree with everything you said.

I'm searching for 100% honesty and openness in all my relationships. It's a very difficult journey but I'm getting there. I believe you cannot flourish without honesty and openess. Lack of knowledge, lack of communication, lies and ignorance are at the very center of human suffering. For me a lack of honesty has a very wide meaning. I suppose it means something like 'lack of clarity'. I believe almost all pain and negative acts stem from it, from things as small as disagreements to full blown wars. I believe it accounts in large part for poor self-image, uncontrollable anger and jealousy and any other deeply irrational and unconstructive feelings we have. If we could see things, truly, for what they were, we would accept them more readily. If one could see the long chain of cause and effect behind the act that has hurt you, one would be less quick to judge, look to revenge etc.

Total and utter openness requires deep introspection as well as complete communication of what you are to others. it is only in being completely open with ourselves and others that we can start to understand, accept and grow. Total openness is also about being curious to learn and know the truth. It's about bravery and trust that if you are honest, you will be able to survive the vulnerability of being completely unmasked and uncovered by any lies. It's about realising that the jounrey towards coomplete openness will make you strong enough to cope with that supposed vulnerability.

--I firmly believe that true freedom can only be found in true openness.

how completely and utterly true. there is incredible beauty and power in that realization bel.

I just want to say that your entry just pushed me to do something very very hard for me that I'd needed to do for a long time. It hurts a lot right now, but I know, because I agree with everything you said in this entry, that it is the right thing and will enable so much growth.

Thankyou.

belenen osculant
If we could see things, truly, for what they were, we would accept them more readily. If one could see the long chain of cause and effect behind the act that has hurt you, one would be less quick to judge, look to revenge etc.

Oh, I believe that with all my heart.

Total and utter openness requires deep introspection as well as complete communication of what you are to others. it is only in being completely open with ourselves and others that we can start to understand, accept and grow. Total openness is also about being curious to learn and know the truth. It's about bravery and trust that if you are honest, you will be able to survive the vulnerability of being completely unmasked and uncovered by any lies. It's about realising that the jounrey towards coomplete openness will make you strong enough to cope with that supposed vulnerability.

I love love love love love this. *hugs you fiercely*
juansrx *kur1
openess is always a bit risky...if you reveal to the wrong person everything can happen, but nobody will ever say "I never thought that of you", and the honor will always be your treasure
Oh I absolutely agree with this, and of course have often found myself lieing when asked how I am, I also found that I lie more often about myself because I am ashamed, I am much more open towards the outside world, as in, if someone wants to know what I think of something, if they want my opinion on a case or a personal question concerning themselves, I am very honest... I suppose before openness of oneself requires acceptance firstly. Lieing about yourself, your demons, your feelings is hand in hand with not accepting, it's like a cycle. How does one go about breaking that?

Friends are hard to find, the true kinds, so I tend to keep people at bay, or maybe that is because I can't tell the truth about my self.

People who are your friends are very lucky.
belenen strong
Lieing about yourself, your demons, your feelings is hand in hand with not accepting, it's like a cycle. How does one go about breaking that?

The way I chose was to be honest first -- the acceptance followed pretty closely. I suppose you could do it the other way around, but I have no idea what that is like, and I like the way I chose. ;-) It was scary, but so wonderful to see that (as long as you surround yourself with fairly mature people) people are so much more accepting of your flaws than you usually are. And when you say, "here I am, flaws and all" and others say, "I like you that way" it's so much easier to say, "well, I like me this way too."
I'm not at ALL open.
but on honesty, Yes. I can clearly try to not lie, and am truthful 90% of the time.
The other times... I create white lies.
'did you eat anything during lunch?'
'yes.'
(the fact is I didn't, but I did eat lunch two days ago)
it's those kind of lies I sometimes do, which is probably just worse than a straight-out big fat fib.
(that example is something I made up, I eat my lunch because I love food. LOL)
belenen garrulous
I see what you're saying... 'white lies' are the easiest kind of deception to justify.
I just wanted to say I love your LJ, reading it makes me feel good inside.

I joined your LJ club, for natural curvy women, and reading through all the entries made me feel SO good about myself.
I am a short, curvy girl who has always felt fat and ugly, I have always hated my 32G breasts, and just hated my size in general, but your lj community has made me feel like I am pretty, and healthy. Thank you.

I would love to be apart of it.
belenen beautiful
I just wanted to say I love your LJ, reading it makes me feel good inside.

awwwww, thank you!

And yay that you joined curvygirls! I am so glad that it has helped you. It has done wonders upon wonders for me. ;-)
I found your journal via curvygirls. I think the community is great, so I submitted a request to join. :)

I like this post, and I think I might print it out to show at my next cognitive behaviour therapy meeting. We've been doing a lot of work on mistakes in thinking.

I value honesty and openness like every other person, but I also value tact. Using the same "gross sweater" analogy that another commenter used, I would probably say that the sweater doesn't suit them, and I might suggest an awesome-looking top to them instead. I wonder... does honesty mean that you say whatever comes to your mind when someone puts a question to you?
belenen honesty
I wonder... does honesty mean that you say whatever comes to your mind when someone puts a question to you?

Nope, it still leaves room for tact. I think that as long as I am not decieving the person, I am not lying. So if I say, "it's interesting" with an interested expression when I think it's the ugliest thing I have ever seen, then I'm deceiving them into thinking that I like it, which I don't think is honest. What I would probably do is scrunch my face and say, "I don't really like it" or "it's not really my taste." That way I am not deceiving them, but I'm also not hurting their feelings. I think it's honest to give someone a watered-down version of your opinion, as long as it still gives them the correct basic impression.
I think that there can be a sense of openness without honesty, in a way. I am very open with people, often offering too much information regarding my past, my future, whatnot, but when asked things directly, depending upon the subject, I sometimes balk or give a half-truth in order to not rock the boat.

Although, since I met you, I have gotten better at this ;)
belenen confused
well, openness without honesty would require you to lie in your telling your life to other people. At least, the way I see it.
i see what you mean.

i guess a better way to put how i am is that i'm honest in my openness, but not open in my honesty?

and i definitely have gotten better at it - i no longer just tell people what i think they WANT to hear, but what they NEED to, which is difficult at times.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.