Too honest to be kind (and too kind not to be honest)

Ever had that moment, someone shares that they told another person that they were going to do something, did something, made a decision, and that friend/partner/ spouse, says that so and so said what a bad idea, then they look at you and say something along the lines of , what would they know? Inside you gulp, your hands get a little clammy, your heart may race a little even!.  No not because of some secret fear that you have been outed as having given that opinion but because instantly you realise the other person was right.  Your mind is racing, turning over different scenarios, hmmm are they asking my opinion, do they want me to agree with them.  If I don’t I am in trouble, if I do I am in trouble.  Your standard stock non committal yes dear or a shake of the head or some other weasel word reply is about as useful as a two legged chair and twice as dangerous.

You know the next question will what do you mean, surely….. You can fake a coughing attack, perhaps a sudden asthma episode or infamous Delhi belly and scuttle off to the toilet. You can just remain quiet and hope for the best or hands trembling, lips quivering and heart [pounding you can tell the truth. As I shared previously in The Truth shall set you free, honesty is an antidote for vanity, stubbornness and confusion.  Are their times when honesty however is not the best policy?  I guess I don’t have point out that there are times when it is just absolutely dangerous to tell the truth but in this instance I am talking about situations where violence is not going to occur.

Karpman Drama Triangle

Honesty has a price and it has effects, the longer you leave it to be honest about something the greater the harm can be for that person and ultimately to your self.  I have worked for many years with people and have learnt a lot.  As an inexperienced community worker I often shied away from the truth, afraid to point out to people the consequences of their behaviour/ actions and often giving them unconditional support, in the belief that in doing so i was being kind to them.  They don’t need to have my judgement on them I would remark, to my embarrassment, many of these people carried on in the mistaken belief that they were doing ok. The converse of this has been also that some people whom I shared with that were in my opinion not doing so well have ended up excelling, just demonstrating my own humanity.  I know in the latter case though often my opinion was based on the rescuer becomes the Drama triangle persecutor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle.  fortunately for me that is long gone and I catch myself real quick if I start on that kind of a thinking pattern again.

In being a rescuer I have compromised my own integrity at times, sticking up and defending the undefendable, usually because of a blindness to the truth but sometimes out of misguided loyalty of fear of the consequences for a person.  Both motives are usually equally as bad.  There are always exceptions to this however this is not a dissertation so onwards.  I recently had to tell the truth to someone and it was unpleasant and still leaves me with a bitter taste in the mouth, because of the unavoidable damage that it was going to occur.  Even though I say too honest to be kind it was something that I wish i could have avoided but it was a matter of integrity.

I had a conversation with someone whom I met recently, Christine is standing for Parliament in my electorate and I went and supported her at an election debate last night.  I reiterated to her that i thought she had done really well.  She expressed some scepticism at this and i assured her that if she was “crap” as i so inelegantly put it I would have told her, I am not sure that she believed me but I would have.  Of course she could have done what she liked with that information it doesn’t affect me in the end.  I would have told her because I wouldn’t want to see her make a fool of herself.

My beautiful young daughter is an aspiring photographer and writer.  She asked me the other day to give her my opinion of some of her work.  I asked her  did she want my opinion as her Dad or my professional opinion as a writer and teacher of English.  bravely she chose the latter.  We have worked together as i have critiqued her photos in the past and I think she now trusts me and has the self confidence to be able to accept constructive comment on her work, which by the way as a completely non biased judge,I I think her work is talented and great. Fortunately other more wiser and experienced heads agree with me.

I work on the basis of don’t ask a question you do not want to hear the answer to, but sometimes we for the sake of integrity and out of respect for someone we have to offer opinions and truth.  In doing so I acknowledge that there is no such thing as impact free consequences for such actions, however I remain hopeful that the truth wins and that the long term effects of not telling the truth are overwhelmingly more deleterious, destructive, and deceitful. than the shorter term hurt, although short term is a relative term.

This is not meant to assuage my regret at all in any manner or form and integrity does not come without responsibility, and one also needs to recognise that somethings cannot be fixed and some hurts cannot be soothed and that life is tough and relentless at times and leaves us battered and bruised,

Arohanui to those out there hurting, and to those I have hurt, Arohamai.

Paul

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