Life Skills – Honesty and Integrity

Are you a Honest with yourself and other people?

Do you tell it how it is or are you too concerned that people might not like you if you tell them what you really think?

What about your Integrity? Are you honest with yourself or do you “blame” others for what’s wrong in your life?

There was a time when men and women prided themselves on their Honesty – it wasn’t so very long ago either! It was one of the few things that could be relied upon. “Honesty is the best policy”, “A man’s word is his bond and all that chaps”.

Sadly, being honest with each other is all too quickly becoming extinct. It’s becoming more “profitable” in the short term to be deceptive to get richer, get even, get a better grade, get what we think we deserve without having to earn it, etc. – even if in the long term we, or others, suffer for it. What’s worse still perhaps, is that we seem to be losing our ability to be honest even with ourselves; we’re losing our integrity.

Here at CANDo, we think Honesty – particularly how honest we are with ourselves – needs a wake up call. It needs to have a spotlight shone on every little blemish if it’s to regain its place of pride in all of our lives.

If we want others to be honest with us, – and let’s face it, in our hearts, most of us do – then we need to rattle the cages of our Honesty Imps and give them a whopping great big kick-up-the-ass. So here’s the low-down – HONESTLY, in your face with no carefully crafted crap or justifiable white lies…

The Two Faces of Honesty

One – Being truthful with others and having the courage to say what we believe is right.

Two – Having the integrity to be honest with ourselves and the balls to admit to ourselves how it really is.

The Roots of Dishonesty

Dishonesty is usually learned when we’re children. Kids are “adults-in-training” and one of the things they need to do is push the boundaries and experiment. They do this in order to learn the natural laws of reaping what they sow, ergo CONSEQUENCES.

In general, children – and most adults for that matter – do not like to experience the pain, mortification, embarrassment, etc., which often comes with negative consequences. Our natural instinct is to avoid this “pain” and to do this we develop “defence tactics”, such as dishonesty, to employ as armour when we’re faced with difficult situations.

To avoid any negative, unpleasant consequences to their actions, a child’s Inner Fear Imp will spend its days whispering defence tactics in the child’s ear. If saying or doing something dishonest works and enables them to avoid an unpleasant consequence, Fear, Doubt and Temptation will stand their chanting na-na-na-na-naaa-na with their tongue poked out at Honesty. They’ll do this because they feel they’ve proved their point that being dishonest and lying about something was a heck of a lot less painful than facing the consequence would have been. Success for “Team Naughty Imps” but failure for the child overall and society in generally.


Because, these things rarely happen JUST THIS ONCE.

If a child does something once – and doesn’t get caught out (and by this we mean get to experience the guilt, mortification and remorse of being caught) – then all the less upstanding citizens of their “Team”, e.g. Fear, Doubt, Temptation, etc., will have even more sway over their Honesty Imp in the future. What’s worse still, if the child gives in to these Imps and continues to use dishonesty as their modus operandi for avoiding unpleasant consequences, their Inner Imp Autonomy will quickly adopt this bad habit and they then may well go on to perfect bigger and “better” dishonesty defence tactics as they grow up.

But let’s not kid ourselves that this is just about children. Just because the tendency is to start sliding down the slippery dishonesty slop as a child, does not make it an excuse to continue sliding down it as an adult. We are all masters of ourselves and how we live our own lives. Be aware, that as adults, our own Inner Imps are trying it on in the same way.

Our Inner Imp Honesty is SO easily led that our other more nefarious Imps – as well as other people’s – easily manage to convince Honesty that, JUST THIS ONCE, things don’t matter.

  • A white lie, can be justified to the point that it becomes a good thing because:-
    • we’re sparing someone’s feelings;
    • we’re protecting a loved one from hurt;
    • we need to save face – our own or someone else’s;
    • we want people to like us;
    • we’re protecting our reputation or image;
    • someone doesn’t satisfy an instruction on our care label but we don’t want them to know.
  • A pen “borrowed” from work and not returned is ONLY a pen;
  • Parking in a no parking space is okay for 5 minutes;
  • An exaggeration of the truth is okay provided it’s carefully crafted to avoid actually telling a downright lie (lying by omission for those of you not familiar with the technical term);
  • It’s okay not to say anything if a shop salesperson gives you too much change, it’s their fault for not noticing and, after all, they work for a mega-big company that can obviously afford to lose that little bit, so why should you say anything.

Our Inner Imps have the ability to legitimise and rationalise these actions to our Honesty Imp  and this is particularly true of Fear – he’s SAVING “Team You” from a potentially painful consequence after all, does this not make him a hero?

So what can you do if you’re honest enough with yourself to admit that you, like most of us, are sliding down this slippery, dishonesty slope?

You need to get off the slope. It’ll take effort but some of these CANDo tips may just help you get the traction you need.

Wake up Courage and Get Honest with Yourself

First off, you’re going to have to wake up your Inner Courage Imp. With a tight hold on Courage’s hand go knock on Honesty’s door and take a long, hard look at where you’ve gone wrong in the past as well as situations where you allowed your Honesty Imp to stick his head in the sand. It’s going to be an uncomfortable experience, but being honest with yourself and identifying your habitual dishonesty tactics, will help you to stop using them and develop more “honest” copying mechanisms for the future.

Let Diplomacy and Positive Thinking Rock

If your defence tactics tend to be white lies to avoid hurting feelings, saving face or wanting to be liked, then consider allowing your Imps Diplomacy and Positive Thinking to flex their muscles. Rather than honestly blurting out criticism, faults or negative things, try focusing on making positive comments about the positive aspects of the people you’re with or situations you’re in.

Beware of Justification

The very fact that you’re trying to justify your actions, words or deeds is usually a red flag. Justifying is frequently a way of coming up with “excuses” to appease your conscience. Don’t do it to yourself. Have a little self-respect and use it as a heads up to “Team You” that you’re doing something you probably shouldn’t be and have a rethink.

Stop Laying Blame at Everyone Else Door

Stop blaming everyone else for any of your failures, unhappiness,  lack of whatever you feel you should or shouldn’t have. Blaming is a way of justifying. Accept that and accept that it’s actually you that can either accept or change these things.

Practice Makes Autonomy Sit up and Take Over

As with most things, you CANDo it if you start off small. Start by being honest about little things and you’ll start building up your integrity and the habit of being honest. Autonomy will fight you a little at first but will eventually accept your new “honesty habit” and have you automatically being honest with the little stuff. The big stuff should follow naturally.

Make the Right Choice

When we’re surrounded by dishonesty, it’s easy to go with the flow. “They’re fibbing so why shouldn’t I?” “He got away with it so I should be able to as well.”

Refuse to go there. How can you stop your child fibbing or other people around you for that matter, if you spend your life fibbing yourself.

There’s no denying that deciding to “Go Honest” isn’t the easiest or even the most convenient choice you could make but one thing is for sure, it’s the right choice. Have the courage to keep your standards high even if everyone around you has decided their standards look better around their ankles, that way you’ll be doing your bit.

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