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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 January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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