Honesty with kindness is the cornerstone of any relationship. Often people are afraid to be truly honest fearing the other person will get hurt or angry and go away, rejecting us. Freud said our biggest drive in life is sex. Around 1918, Adler disagreed with Freud and stated his belief that belonging was our greatest drive. Being honest then threatens a basic need, challenging us to be mature, to do the difficult thing, and risking rejection or disapproval.
To be kind isn’t always ‘nice.’ My daughter as a child would get angry at me for making her brush her teeth and tell me how mean I was. To her, making her brush her teeth wasn’t nice, however we all know it was kind.
Sometimes I need to say hard things to my clients; hard things for them to hear. When I feel a client is stuck in a ‘poor me’ pattern, to not tell them is to treat them with a lack of respect or pity, and decide they are too pathetic or weak to hear the truth. Of course, when I say such a thing I do so without judgment. I recognize it is just a pattern and we all have a few goofy patterns that don’t work!
A number of years ago, I told a client who had been struggling with depression for 10 years, just that. He looked at me for a long time then burst into laughter stating, “Well I guess I just got busted!” We proceeded to work on how to stay out of ‘poor me’ or when he fell into it, how to pull out of it. Three months later, he told me he wished he had known about the ‘poor me’ 10 years ago. He was feeling the best he had since he lost his job 10 years previous.
A true friend is one who will be honest about what they like or don’t like, what they want or don’t want, and if they are angry or sad or hurt. It takes a lot of courage to speak your truth with kindness. Not only does your relationship become stronger because you let the person know who you truly are, you get to know yourself better as well.