Have you ever read a self-help or spiritual book and wondered ‘How could I use this in my real life?’ It isn’t that you think you can’t use it, but more not sure exactly how. Take one of my clients, Anne. She read a book about radical honesty. The author shared how freeing it was to tell the truth 100% of the time. Doing away with little white lies and even lies of ommision. She was inspired to adopt this in her everyday life immediately.

At work, she addressed the promises that she had made but not kept. Within her marriage, she had an open and frank dialogue about the way they shared household duties. Overall, it was great. Then she arrived for dinner at her in-laws ‘ home. They served vegetable soup for her and her wife who are vegetarians. However, as she ate the first bite, she saw bits of chicken and could tell they had also used chicken stock, again. When her MIL asked her, how is the soup? She felt conflicted. Is this a moment to be radically honest, which Mr. Brad Blanton invited her to be 100% of the time? Or was this a moment to respectfully push the soup away and say she wasn’t all that hungry?

What would you have done?

I will be the first to say that it can take discernment to apply new-found wisdom effectively. Here is what my client and I talked about. How I apply discernment in real life is to ask myself questions. It slows me down and often stops me from being reactive.

The questions I invited her to ask were ‘What relationship do you desire with ___? What outcome do you hope will happen? How will applying this tool [radical honesty, compassion, boundaries etc.] support the outcome and relationship you desire?’.

She reflected.

At work, it was really clear to her. She wanted to have a relationship with her team where they trusted her and she trusted them. She wanted to feel like integrity had been restored. Her willingness to be radically honest felt like a direct way to clear the air and allow her team to communicate with her.

With her wife, she wanted to feel close to her like a lover instead of feeling resentful and a roommate. She hoped that her wife would be willing to negotiate new ways of managing all the things it took to have their lives work. Applying radical honesty required sharing vulnerably and being willing to listen to her wife’s perspective without getting defensive.

However, with her in-laws it felt more complex to apply the tool. Why? Because the relationship she had with her MIL and FIL felt connected to her wife’s relationship with her parents and, by proxy, her relationship with her wife too. Any conflicts could spill over and just have it be awkward. The tool of radical honesty had to be applied to herself first. Where could she be responsible for the source of this miscommunication?

After doing some journaling, she had to admit that while she had mentioned being a vegetarian to them a number of times, she had not once explained exactly what that meant. Being explicit about what she ate versus didn’t eat.  She further complicated things by sneakily walking in the door with food so there were options for her. Even though food was her MIL’s love language. The real breakdown happened not by being served the ‘wrong’ food, but it happened by not being in communication. Over time, a simple misunderstanding became a way she related to her in-laws. She then was defensive towards them and careful to cause conflict.  Essentially, she built a case that she didn’t intend to take to court, but she could have as a smart and evidence-collecting human. Sound familiar? Ever done this? What did she do?

In the case of radical honesty, it could seem like it is unilateral permission to just  “Tell It Like It Is.” In practice though, it is actually more about vulnerability and personal responsibility. For my client, it included being radically honest with herself about where she was responsible for this 5-year misunderstanding and responsible for a lack of positive connection with her in-laws.

Well, it took heaps of courage to be radically honest with her in-laws about this miscommunication. I won’t tell you the whole story. It has a happy ending. Mainly, her in-laws love her and felt just as misunderstood and disregarded as she felt. Each of them individually, as humans are apt to do, had made up a story about the other. They related not to the human being in front of them but through the story. Yes, radical honesty was the tool that unlocked the love and released all the resentment, hurt, and resolved the miscommunication. Was it a happily forever after kind of thing? NO. Relationships are like gardens. You can’t just weed once and be done for the season. You got to get in there and regularly tend to and nurture that shit.

If you feel like you are just about to sledge hammer “Let ME tell YOU how it is”, I invite you to pause. Radical Honesty is a very effective tool that is best used while looking in a mirror first. Then, when applied to relationships with others, done best in a conscious and loving way.

Yes, it can be challenging to apply spiritual wisdom to real life. But it is so fantastically healing, expansive, and sometimes wildly surprising when you do.

Big Bow to Your Willingness to Grow!