Today I have been trawling through a paper for my philosophy of film class wittily titled, Is Realism Really Bad for You? A Realistic Response. The aim of the paper is to show that people who are honest with themselves and under no illusions about themselves are better off than those that are deluded and living in denial. I couldn’t help but think recently about how many lies I’d told to myself and to other people who are concerned about me. I was under the illusion that telling people “I’m fine” and “everything is ok” was somehow the right thing to do. It doesn’t feel like an outright lie, but what I have sneakily coined a ‘half-truth’, since nothing is wrong that warrants talking about. I have also developed a bad habit of hiding when I’m upset unless someone asks me specifically whether something hurt my feelings. So, despite all these habits, I am going to be somewhat hypocritical and defend why honesty is the better policy.
- When people find out that you lied or hid something they feel hurt
My best friend was crushed that I had kept something to myself for eleven months, more or less. I didn’t think it was a big deal but when people care for you greatly your pain can almost be adopted by another person – they feel it too which, of course, is what empathy is all about. I feel almost selfish now. Even trying to protect someone in this way ends up hurting them more. You tend to forget that people can look after themselves – it is not our job to shelter them all the time – and friends are there for the good times but especially the bad.
- Deceiving yourself stops you from getting help
This quite often leads to things getting worse, even out of hand. I tell myself, “I’m coping; I’m dealing with it” when the situation is out of control. Sometimes what I need is someone to step in, maybe give me a little shake by the shoulders and say “GET IT TOGETHER!” or something a little bit wiser. A problem shared is a problem halved after all but, understandably, we fear burdening others. Although, you might be surprised to find out:
- People actually enjoy hearing about your problems
I thought these people were nutcases at first. Who would want to take on the burden of other people’s issues? Well, actually, it is a therapy for other people in itself. When my friend came down to visit she unleashed a torrent of problems upon my already over-burdened conscience and I couldn’t help but smile as I listened (which, I realise, makes me sound like a somewhat unhelpful friend). It’s reassuring to know you are not the only one with issues! It also seems to give you strength to comfort someone else but also friends (good ones, at least) reciprocate that care, and comfort you too.
If you think about it in terms of probability, the more people you open up to the more likely you are to find a golden-nugget piece of advice which just sorts everything right out. Also, the more times you share your problem the smaller it becomes if we take the ‘a problem shared’ premise to be true. Having reached this small epiphany that lies are not the solution to my problems I am making it a late resolution to be honest about how I’m feeling. I get sick sometimes just talking about my problems – it’s tiring and dull – but being open about them will help me to overcome them and I can then move on to more exciting things, stories of which I will be bursting to tell my friends.