When we go our separate ways in any relationship, it is possible to gain insight, left over belongings, and various shrapnel in the form of hurtful words and unsolicited brutal honesty. In this case, I was told we never actually had anything in common and we were not really friends anyway. Which is so interesting because I have long time friendships that are not always built on commonalities, but an actual bond stronger than hobbies and professional and personal ventures. But I digress.
So here I am, just told by this person that we were never really friends because of the way I conduct my life (mind you, I am not a felon or anything like this). I had asked him for the truth about what he thought (were we friends at one point, but not now? What gives?). I need closure, dude!
Did he tell me the truth, yes, and oh so much more! To use an AA term, he completely took my inventory (think Step Four). He pointed out every single shortcoming with brutal, uncompromising, and unfiltered honesty. It’s funny, because I thought we were not even friends. Where does this come from? Insecurities of his own. He’d flat out deny that. I would not air his dirty laundry here, but I can tell you, I restrained during this texting battle with him on offense and me on a weakened defense (I was half asleep). While he had some valid points, they lost credibility with me in part because he admitted he lied to me earlier in the conversation and also because he was not very accurate or relevant on the other points.
This was my last parting gift in a ‘not so real’ friendship. Next time I get into a relationship, I will be more cautious about divulging my hopes, fears, and vented complaints. My lesson in this gift, the gift itself so to speak, is that I need to get to know someone better before divulging all of these emotions. I don’t need to bleed emotion all over someone only to have them criticize me during the messy clean up.
I have inherited this bit of wisdom from someone who shared this at an AA meeting. Yes, I thought at one time that I was an alcoholic; I was dreadfully wrong and that’s a completely different post and probably a book. Stay tuned on that!
When we think we are being honest, we can think of brutal honesty: “Your Christmas sweater is kinda hideous”. We think of rigorous honesty: “I think we should return this lost wallet to lost and found”. Then we have the honesty that comes with trust. All in all, these are more or less levels of trust that grow with time. However, the everyday honesty that flies out of our mouth in the name of integrity could use a little help. I know when I heard this acronym at the meeting, I would never forget it. I have been honest to a fault. And I don’t mean that false modesty honesty…”Oh, I just tell people all my personal thoughts” type of thing that comes with regret. I share with rigorous honesty here as I do try to keep things anonymous.
This is the deal; THINK before you talk. THINK before you post on Facebook or Tweet on Twitter. Nike says “Just do it” and I think they are on to something!
T: Is it Thoughtful? Have you formed an insightful idea on why this needs to be said?
H: Is it Honest (Is it really?) or something else with other motives?
I:Is it Important? Does it need to be said?
N: Is it Necessary? Will your statement help someone in a positive way?
K: Is it Kind? Do you really need to make someone feel less than with your intended statement?
This checklist was invaluable for a former “little miss can’t be wrong” like my self. It is humbling. It creates an idea of pure humility and intention. We think twice and say it once. We think carefully and it becomes second nature. This worked for me. I don’t take myself as seriously when I know I am not trying to teach people lessons with lectures that are neither Necessary or Kind. I don’t think that my clothes are better than someone else’s choices when I am being Thoughtful and Kind. It works if you work it: That’s just one more thing I learned in my time at AA.