Oh No... What Did I Just Say?
It would be impossible to count the amount of times I’ve put my foot in my mouth. It would be possible however to describe that gut-wrenching feeling linked to having spoken too soon.
Whether it was during an argument, during a moment of frustration or even an accidental email reply where I wished for a “please erase from their inbox” button, putting my foot in my mouth was always spit out in the heat of the moment. Only shortly after the dissipation of the fire did my guilt set in; I wished I could turn back time.
How could I say that? What was I thinking? I could lose my job, get broken up with or even lose a friend. How could I say something so stupid, or mean or…
Wait, what did I actually say?
Well now that I think about it, in my moment of passionate emotion, I usually, dare I say… displayed nothing but brute honesty. The most common theme of what provoked the “I hope I didn’t hurt their feelings” question was merely a statement of truth.
If I was afraid to let people know what I really thought, what did that say about me, and what did that say about the people I surrounded myself with?
When I began asking myself that question I realized I spent a lot of time telling people what they wanted to hear. I offered no constructive criticism or anything even remotely resembling honesty. I was a nice liar.
Is that why I felt guilty after telling the truth, because I was so used to earning brownie points? I suppose I didn’t want to lose rank in the nice guy department; people liked me because I was nice. But were people doing the same with me, were they just telling me what I wanted to hear so I’d like them too?
I was a people pleaser and I didn’t even know it until I started asking these questions. Unknowingly being a people pleaser for so long meant I had blurred the lines between being a nice liar and an honest asshole.
So I wanted to see if I could bring honesty to the table and I figured I’d run a little test comprising of me saying exactly what was on my mind whenever someone asked for my insight; no filter.
What surprised me was how unnatural it was to speak without a filter; it’s almost like the filter came more naturally. But I muscled thru it and made the effort to not make it an effort… or something like that. What I noticed next was my honesty didn’t actually hurt people’s feelings; it got a few laughs at first and even sparked inspired conversation.
But the longer the test went on, the stronger the filter blocker grew and the more it became part of my personality. I was now in a constant state of “shooting from the hip”. I was having debates at coffee shops in the morning, expressing what I truly believed, never bending for the sake of approval. I’d only bend when someone was able to logically change my mind with sound logic.
I didn’t seem to visibly upset anyone in particular, but I can definitely say the amount of missed calls and texts I received shrank significantly. I found myself spending a lot more time with a small group of people and a lot less time with a lot of other people. I actually started spending a lot more time alone as well.
I’ve since decided to leave the filter off, honestly there was no going back. I can only surround myself with people who can handle the harsh reality of logic. “Oh no, I wish I could take that back” should not be a sentence in my vocabulary. If I said it then I truly believe it came from a place of pure honesty and the other person’s reaction will dictate whether I want to spend time with them or not; like a truth filter.
I know it sounds harsh, but being brutally honest has literally allowed me to filter people out of my life. There isn’t enough time in the day to waste on people who live in “la la land”. It’s created a tight circle of friends for me, friends who hold me accountable and share what they truly feel. It’s most certainly a two way street and I require the honesty I give. They’ve always challenged my motives and helped chisel me into the person I am today. Without an honest group around me I don’t think I’d be writing this right now.
I’ve found being the nice liar allows for tension to build because of the lack of consistent, truthful communication, and the inevitable blowout is usually a catastrophic one. Did my outbursts or moments of uncontrolled emotion only seem so shocking to myself and the other party because they came out of nowhere? I absolutely think so.
Now-a-days I rarely shock anyone because it’s become part of who I am. I’m writing this and putting it out because I welcome truthful interaction; it might not always be pretty but it’s the only way I’ll have it!
Will I play the game for a particular person, for a particular gain? I can’t. I may hurt my odds of climbing some kind of ladder but I’m ok with that. I don’t see lost opportunity from being honest a risk; the biggest risk in my eyes is sacrificing my belief system for some sort of gain.