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Naming Elephants: 10 Ways To Use Radical Honesty to Improve Your Relationship

Naming Elephants: 10 Ways To Use Radical Honesty to Improve Your Relationship

    When it comes to relationships, I believe that honesty is always the best policy. Not merely remaining faithful. Not in the sense of being able to say that you never really lie to your partner. I’m talking about Radical Honesty; actually coming out and naming the elephants in the room so you can deal with them before they trample all over your relationship.

    Radical Honesty requires that you speak your truth even when you feel sure that the other person won’t want to hear it. Radical Honesty means that you have to say how you really feel, especially when you believe that you could either avoid x or conversely make y happen by hiding these feelings from them. It is a commitment to authenticity that requires being true to yourself as much as being loyal to another.

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    How long can you pretend to be someone else?

    If you lack an intrinsic sense of self-worth you may be tempted to censor yourself; to try to express yourself in terms of what would be acceptable or desirable to someone else. In the short-term, you may even be successful in your goals. But, realistically speaking, just how long can you pretend to be someone else? And do you really want to be in a relationship with someone that you don’t believe could love you as you really are?

    Whilst the idea of being “strategic” is a popular one when it comes to dating, it doesn’t feel so warm and fuzzy to think that one partner actively manipulated the other into committing to the relationship. Is that really a good way to build a foundation for a trusting relationship?

    “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me”

    Your degree of reluctance to do this may be a gauge of how much or how little you love and accept yourself. In the words of Groucho Marx,

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    “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me.”

    If deep down you think you are “too much” or if there is any suspicion that there might “be something wrong” with you, of course you are going to imagine that everyone else is as turned off by you as you are.

    However, if you dare to share the sadness and longing that you are so embarrassed to admit, you may discover that other people come closer instead of abandoning you as you might have imagined. Just maybe it’s you – not them – that finds your vulnerability so unlovable. It could be your tendency to abandon yourself that you are projecting onto others. Ironically, it could be what pushes people away is not your weakness but how you act you when you are trying to hide it.

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    Giving up control

    All of this radical honesty requires a fundamental attitude shift and that is giving up the idea that you can control anyone or anything other than your own reactions. I find the more intelligent people are, the harder they find this to do. They quickly succumb to the trap of thinking that if they only try hard enough or think about it long enough or read the right book, they can figure it out.

    In addition, you may have more difficulty with this if during your childhood you learned  to try to predict or change the behavior of an unpredictable parent with your actions. This learned survival skill, combined with having a deficit of emotional security, is the reason that many people grow up to expend so much energy trying to control things. It doesn’t come from a malicious desire to manipulate in order to wield power; it’s a coping mechanism designed to try and make the world a safer place.

    The illusion is that somewhere out there is something you could say or do which would be the guarantee that everything will be alright. Searching for it can drive you crazy. How much easier is it to simply speak your truth without attachment to the reactions you may receive?

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    Ten tips to get you started

    1. Don’t let resentment build, deal with issues one at a time and as soon as they arise
    2. Stop trying to control or manipulate your partner’s feelings or actions
    3. Share your hopes, dreams and wishes
    4. Share your fears
    5. Be honest with yourself
    6. Share your vulnerability instead of your anger
    7. Express your disappointment gently
    8. Check that you both have signed on to the same contract (Explain what you think the unwritten rules are)
    9. Admit when you don’t know what to do
    10. Admit it when you think you may have made a mistake

    Radical honesty can be magically healing but it must always be used with respect. Remember that coming from a place of vulnerability instead of blame invites your partner to look for a solution with you.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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