How To Be Brutally Honest With Yourself

How To be Brutally Honest With Yourself

If we're really honest with ourselves, most of the time we're dishonest with ourselves. We don't like to admit it, but sometimes the conversations that we have with ourselves in our heads are really unhealthy and even the root of many of our problems. We can be negative or catastrophize everything, or we can go from one extreme to the other with total denial of our feelings to the other side of beating ourselves up for everything. How do we have more honest conversations with ourselves? This is going to be a really important conversation.

Sometimes it's the conversations that we have with ourselves that hold us back from healing and making changes. In order to do that, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves.

What does it mean to be brutally honest with yourself?

Brutal honesty is actually pretty hard. It’s easy to be brutal with yourself sometimes. And it’s easy to be honest. But it’s hard to be brutally honest.

What we’re looking for is to have an easy excuse that something’s not our responsibility. Maybe we're looking to hide something because we don't want to be brutally honest. We don't want to look at the heart of what's going on with our thoughts. When we get scared, for example, our brains go to worst-case scenario. But we’re not stopping to be brutally honest with ourselves and ask, “What's driving the fear right now? What are you afraid of? Why does that get to control you in this moment?” But if we're brutally honest with ourselves, we can admit we were hurt, afraid of being hurt again or we were wrong, and we’re afraid of having to admit that we were wrong or bear the consequences of being wrong.

Brutal honesty sounds negative. You don't want to fess up, but really another thing that we're talking about here is the pursuit of truth. It could be the truth of what God thinks about us or what others think about us or what is reality. I want to make sure that we're clear about brutal honesty. It’s not just how can you really admit all your faults. There are some absolute truths out there. Usually, the way we look at things is informed by what we believe is out there, but that's not what we're talking about with brutal honesty. We're talking about not just the negative side, but there are some absolute truths and undoing some of the negative self-talk and that is where we're going to go.

Because there are so many things that inform what we think is truth, our subjective truth that we have can be in the form of negative self-talk or it could even be something that should technically be a positive thing. God says we are loved regardless. Sometimes it's hard to even see if you have so much clouding the truth. It's hard to really capture that and believe it. How can we even break through that? In my experience, whether it's brutal honesty about how I've wronged someone or how I have failed or brutal honesty about the truth and what is right and what is good, there's so much pain locked behind those.

You don't want to open that door. It's so hard to open it. It takes a lot to walk through that door.

One example for me is this idea that I'm an imposter, I'm a fraud. If I'm pursuing brutal honesty, it's not just proving that I'm not a fraud. It's really willing to go into the areas that in the past I might've felt like I was deceitful or manipulative, and that's exploring those doors that I don't want to open. But brutal honesty is also admitting that God has given you a unique story and there does not have to be perfection. That's what we're talking about when we're coming to brutal honesty. It's not like, am I a fraud or I'm not a fraud? That's not absolute. It's really digging into, no, I'm not a fraud. I am human, but that does not negate the other.

Just because it's negative doesn't make it the truth. There's something about if I fully see myself, I will see all of the negatives. But that's not the truth either, because I'm not all bad. Nobody is all bad. There is goodness and there is grace in there too. And if so, we are having a thought of “I am a fraud,” that's a negative thought. Just because it's negative doesn't make it true. We need to be brutally honest with the truth. Instead of saying to yourself, “I feel like a fraud,” you can say, “Sometimes I have to wing it. Sometimes I don't know what the next answer is or what I'm going to do.” But that doesn't mean you don't have the right to be here or the right to a voice in this situation. This is a completely different conversation because if you think you’re a fraud, it instantly leads you down a path of fear. If you think you’re being challenged and trying out something new, that seems opportunistic and full of possibility. The change of words in our minds can make such a big difference.

I have shamed myself for being where I am and that's where the shoulds come in “I should be this way” or “I should feel this way.” This can cloud my ability to be able to be brutally honest because I can't say, “Actually, this is where I'm at, this is what I'm dealing with. I'm dealing with a voice inside my head that says, you're a fraud.” Instead of being able to be vulnerable and honestly take it to a friend, take it to God, it keeps me from not being honest with where I'm at and I try to fake it till I make it.

Before we get into how to be brutally honest, let's unpack the second point of what's behind our negative self-talk. Whether I'm saying I'm a fraud or whether I’m saying I'm just a loser or I'm not attractive.

What's behind our negative self-talk?

The inability to be vulnerable and be okay with where you are and sit with it as long as it takes can keep you stuck in the negative.

The negative voices are either from our past experiences or past people who spoke negative things about us which can cloud our ability to be able to see us as good parents who make mistakes. We get sucked in, and it can be a negative loop that pulls us back in like a tractor beam. And it's hard to get out of.

Some of it is fear. Fear that something is not going to go the way that I want it. I get this idea that it's safer on the side to believe that I can't than to believe that I can, to believe that I'm not than to believe that I am, in the sense of I'm not loved or when I really am loved and God Himself loves me, my own Creator actually loves me. There's also this desire to strive for perfection. There are times when the rest of the world will see that I don't measure up. There are way more times when I see that I don't measure up. I have a thought that I didn't like, or I'm impatient with somebody, even if I don't actually express that impatience, I know that in my heart I felt impatient, so I must now be an impatient person. Well, but that's not crediting myself for all of the self-control that I exhibited, to not actually lash out at this person. I'm taking my thoughts, whereas other people might assess me on my actions. Separating your thoughts and actions, and not necessarily just letting myself be defined by a fleeting thought that came into my mind.

Negative self-talk keeps me from the truth, from being completely honest with what's going on, and comes from wounds that I've had when I have been in a vulnerable place with someone, and something was said or inferred or done. One of the wounds that I have that has created a longstanding inner dialogue of self-talk is the way I was brought up in the church and how I didn't measure up. I was far more in touch with how I didn't measure up than in touch with, “I am made in the image of God.” This creates a loop that I will never measure up. I'm not going to blame the church that created the wound. It could be an institution, it could be something that is noble and has truth behind it, but it can cause internal negative talk where you're constantly comparing.

It’s also our perspective. It's informed. We are informed by our experiences. Every experience I've had in my childhood and my adulthood informs what I'm walking into next. And so, if I'm walking into a conversation with someone who I feel isn’t the healthiest person, whether it's my ex, a horrible coworker, or someone else, it can either be based on past experiences with that person or someone who reminds me of the person. It's having this trigger that informs the next experience versus being able to take a step back and say, “Actually I've never had this experience with this person before, so let me start with a clean slate.” Being able to allow the experience to happen in the present time.

Our experiences day-to-day, how we look at things, our perspective on things, whether we're walking into a brand new situation or we're walking into something that we've experienced over and over, our perspective and the ideas that we have of either how the world should be or our expectations of ourselves can totally inform or even cloud, how we can walk into that next situation or even an old situation. Thinking that we have it all figured out in that way can really keep us from growing and being able to experience the world in new ways, experience other people in new ways, and honestly give ourselves and the people around us the ability to grow or the benefit of the doubt.

Especially as single parents, we walk around full of perspectives or wounds about what things mean. Here's the tricky thing about self-talk. There is a germ of truth in negative dishonesty. So if I use my spiritual background, and growing up in the church, I formed this opinion that I didn't measure up.

And here's the truth, I don't measure up. So there's some truth to that, but the trump card is that there is a greater perspective in that I was actually created in the image of Christ. That's the tricky thing about brutal honesty—recognizing the truth from the lies.

There's an element of we want things to be predictable because they feel more controllable. I can more easily shoot for a goal of making one basket or being really bad at basketball than I can shoot for being amazing at basketball. I may assume this person hurt me the last time I had a conversation like this, so that person's going to hurt me again. Because I'm looking to feel like I have control over a situation, even if it's going to be completely different.

We've talked about what it means to be brutally honest and we've also talked about the negative self-talk that gets in the way of brutal honesty. Third, let's talk about how we can be brutally honest with ourselves, knowing that negative self-talk is a problem.

How do we move to the place of actually being brutally honest with ourselves?

Bringing in other people. I actually had lunch with Amber, who you all know from the podcast and I was telling her about a situation that I was dealing with, and she called me out straight up, and told me I was falling into some bad patterns, and here's what this looks like. In my inability to see things clearly about myself in a brutally honest way, it's other people, 100%, who are willing to step up and say, “Do you know this about yourself?

If you’re in a situation where you can’t talk to someone else, start asking yourself questions, “Why does this bother you?” When you start investigating, you’ll probably find that you’re afraid. So keep pushing and nudging yourself to be honest with yourself. Is this fear based on something or based on a past experience, is this fear something that is likely going to drive success? Is it helpful in this moment or can you walk away and continue to be okay on the other side?

Keep in mind that we don't ever truly honestly know the motives and the heart of other people, but we do know our own motives. We do know our own hearts, and there are days when I am just nasty. My shadowy ugly side is coming up and all of my humanity and sinful self is coming out, whether it's spewed on other people or it's all inside and knowing that it's okay for me to have a bad day. I know that my motives and my heart are not to hurt people. I don't want to hurt other people with all my nastiness. And the same goes for other people. We don't know what their motives are. Sometimes we get hurt by other people's intentional or unintentional acts on us. I'm not saying don't protect yourself and thus give everybody the benefit of the doubt, but it's just one of those things of having the right view and keeping in mind that we don't know the motives. We know the actions, and we know how we're hurt. That's all we can really focus on is how we’re experiencing this. Where's this coming from? Why does it hurt? What's the story I'm telling myself as a result of it? Or I'm having a bad day. I know my motives are right and good in general, but right now I'm just really not okay.

To get brutally honest with myself, I need to take that internal voice and make it external. When I bring things out of my head, I can speak it across the table and say, I really feel this about myself, or I'm wondering about this. When I’m in a safe place, when I get those voices out and make them external voices instead of internal voices, I start moving towards brutal honesty because then it can be reflected back to someone else. Getting more brutally honest with myself, is being willing to go there with people and to expose myself and say, this is what my head is telling me.

The second thing that helps me be brutally honest is realizing it's seldom black or white. We say in our minds, “I am this, so it must mean this,” and it doesn't. Brutal honesty is way more in the gray area than it is in black or white. When we're looking at our lives, whether it be from a faith perspective, a relationship perspective, or a moral and ethical perspective, there are no absolutes. I'm not saying there are no absolutes, but regarding our internal voices, I seldom think that it's completely black or white.

Journaling the conversation with yourself is a good place to start. Write down your brutal honesty statement like, “I feel like a fraud because of this and this.” Write down what you’re telling yourself. Then take yourself out of the situation and pretend you're a friend and write down what your friend would say to you. See if you can pull the truth out of that. Have a ping-pong match with yourself.

As we're trying to be brutally honest with ourselves, we have to incorporate as a bedrock to what our Creator says about us, because that is brutally honest. It doesn't mean that we don't have struggles. Psalm 103:3 says, “He forgives all my sins, He heals me.  He ransoms me from hell.” This is acknowledging the brutal truth of the human condition. Then he moves into the second part of this verse. It says, “He surrounds me with loving kindness and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. That's brutally honest. I have to be rescued. I do have things wrong with me. I do struggle, and God's mercy surrounds me with loving-kindness. I want to make sure that we acknowledge that there is a spiritual part to all of this. It's not just the psychological, the voices in our heads. There is an underlying truth that has to be a part of any conversation that we have about being brutally honest with ourselves.


1.What is keeping me from being brutally honest with myself is this voice inside my head, this negative self-talk.
2.What is behind self-talk? It has to do with wounds. It has to do with our perspective on life. It has to do with all the ways we don't measure up.
3.Be brutally honest with yourself. Make the inner voice external. To start to do this you can write things down.

Listener Question

Hi, I’m Danya. What is one of your favorite recipes to bring to a potluck?

Buffalo Chicken Dip is one of my go-to recipes. Anytime we're doing any sort of sporty get-together or something where we have to bring an app. It's super easy, a rotisserie chicken, you just shred it, a cup of Frank's red hot buffalo sauce, make sure it's buffalo, a cup of ranch, an eight-ounce block of cream cheese, and half of a bag of shredded cheddar cheese for inside. You mix all that together and then sprinkle some cheese on top and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Another go-to is sliders with a little onion, garlic jam, smoked filet, a tiny bit of horse radish and lettuce and cheese, and it's so good on a Hawaiian Roll.

Tater bombs are also a good choice because they’re so easy. You just take a tater tot and put a piece of cheese on top of it, and you wrap the whole thing in bacon, put a toothpick through it, roll it in brown sugar and cook it.

If you don’t like to cook you can always volunteer to bring ice or drinks. Those are needed too.

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