For two years my good friend Christina (and also the professional cuddler leading Guiding Cuddling at many Kindra events) had been raving about the power of Honesty Lab. Finally, last year I participated in an Honesty Lab weekend. It was transformative.
Having grown up in New York, its straight talk culture had rubbed off on me. I’m known for speaking my mind. Yet, anger has always been a scary emotion for me, and throughout my life, I have not been very good at communicating and receiving anger. The Honesty Lab weekend shifted that and taught me a new and effective way to approach my emotions.
I am excited to partner with Honesty Lab and offer to the Kindra Community the weekend workshop “Radical Honesty for Authentic Dating.”
I invited John Rosania, the founder of Honesty Lab, to share about about Radical Honesty in this blog.
Gina Levy , Founder & CEO, Kindra Connect
The key ingredient for deep and powerful relationships is ongoing moment to moment honesty. The more we practice sharing honestly moment to moment, the less we need books, tools and 10 step programs and the more we can really respond creatively and uniquely to each moment.
The question often comes up: Why would I want to be radically honest with someone I’m dating or with a long-term partner?
For some people, the primary focus of their relationship is comfort or to get along with the minimum amount of discomfort. This means “don’t rock the boat,” “why bring up that stuff we were arguing about, we are past that stuff” (even in reality if you probably aren’t).
As we have all probably felt, this kind of comfort isn’t really comfort. What usually happens is the two partners just slowly disconnect. The relationship starts to feel dull. Resentments build. Maybe the relationship falls apart and they break up. Maybe they say things like “I don’t like the person’s energy anymore,” and they dismiss them.
From the radical honesty perspective, relationships are for growth AND for comfort. The conceit of radical honesty is that the quickest way to grow in a relationship and to eventually create real comfort, is to tell the truth about what you notice, feel and think. And then feel through whatever comes up.
Getting over Anger
From the radical honesty perspective, we get over anger and irritation in a relationship by sharing the anger and irritation directly with the person. So simply, how to get over anger? Tell the other person you are mad at them.
Radical Honesty does not take this approach for any moral reason or to blame or shame the other person. We do this purely for practical reasons. Directly sharing our anger, truly allows us to feel it in our body. Once we feel it in our body, the emotion can then pass, and we can again be present with the other person.
At Honesty Lab, we focus on anger a lot because it is the emotion that we withhold the most. We tell ourselves that we are withholding anger to protect the other person, but in reality the person we are really protecting is ourselves. We are protecting ourselves from being looked at as someone who actually gets mad and who is affected or irritated by things in the world. We do this to protect ourselves from uncomfortable sensations in our body such as redness in the face, and tightness in the throat and stomach.
We also might not share our appreciations, love, sadness or grief. We also might hide what we really want, from what we want sexually to where we want to go out to dinner or go on vacation. But anger is the most common emotion to be withheld, and it is often taboo to express anger.
Whenever we withhold an emotion, whether anger, love, sadness, we end up reducing our connection with the person we are trying to build a relationship with. If you have a strong taboo in a relationship about expressing anger, and then you get angry —which you will as it is a fact of life — not sharing it is going to reduce your expression of love, intimacy and connection. Not expressing your anger is going to keep all the good emotions buried underneath.
First, know that you are not a terrible person for getting irritated and angry. You are not a failure and unspiritual person if you share your anger. Radical Honesty wants to break that taboo so people can feel more aliveness and love with each other.
When you meet someone and begin to cultivate a relationship with that person, feelings of anger, love, sadness, grief will bubble up. Fully expressing your emotions and not running away from each other is the key to keeping your relationship alive and working.
In Radical Honesty, we share our anger and out ourselves as someone who gets irritated by things. 99% of the time when we humans are angry or irritated, it is NOT justified. It’s just our conditioning that causes our anger and irritation to come up with another person.
So how to share anger? Be specific. Take full responsibility for your own anger and don’t blame or shame the other person. Most of the time when we are in conflict we are not arguing about what happened, we are just arguing about our different interpretations of it.
Some pointers to get over your anger:
1. Be specific about what someone said or did. This can be very difficult because our minds want to build a case against the other person. For example, when your argument with someone ends up being all about whose opinion is right. When this happens, nothing changes in your body, and you go away still feeling angry. So when we argue from the place of our interpretations and are not talking specifically about what someone did or said, we won’t get over our anger.
Your anger is your responsibility to get over, and you don’t need to change another person in order to get over it. In an Honesty Lab workshop when this is practiced, you can watch someone share their anger. They are triggered because of their history. They will share their anger with someone, and then get over it just because of the expression, not because the other person committed to doing something different. So getting over your anger has nothing to do with whether or not the other person changes. You might prefer them to change, but you are not super attached to whether they do or not.
From the Radical Honesty perspective, people that we are in relationship with are never jerks, assholes, inauthentic, uncaring or people who abandon us. These interpretations are not real. They are made up interpretations in our mind to build a case against the other person.
What happened is that the other person who are in relationship with did or said something specific and because we were triggered or because of our conditioning, we got angry. That is the thing we want to share. So in radical honesty, we would say “I resent you for…” or “I’m mad at you for…” and you add the specific thing the person said or did.
When you start doing this, you may often find it hard to determine exactly what it is that the person said or did that got you mad. When you actually focus on what they said or did and you don’t bring in your interpretation and all your righteous indignation and stories, you might find it hard to actually stay angry.
So be as specific as possible: “I am mad at you for the way you turned your head.” “I am mad at you for wearing those shoes.” “I am mad at you for telling me to do that thing.” “I am mad you for not showing up on time.”
2. Pay attention to your body as you say why you are mad.
We tend to get very mental because we want to prove to the other person that they are wrong, but really paying attention to your body is the key to getting over your anger.
When you get angry and share it directly with someone, you may feel an increase in your heartbeat, shortness of breath, tightness in your stomach, flushed cheeks, sweating in your armpits, even shaking. If you say it clearly and strong enough, you are going to feel all these sensations rise, rise, rise, and then they will start to diminish and you will then be over it.
This happens because you express your anger and resentment, not because the other person changed or did anything differently . You are not asking them to change. You are just sharing what is actually true in the moment: that you are angry about something.
Many people, when they first share their resentment, don’t actually share it at the level that they actually feel it. So they might say in a small, low voice that they are mad, or they might speak in the same tone as commenting on the weather. So…
3. Say it Again.
If you are not over the anger and don’t feel any a change in your body, you are probably playing it nice and not sharing it at the level that you actually feel it. So say it again: I am mad at you for___, and notice your body.
You are free to say it again and again, as often as you need to. The key to saying it repeatedly is to get some movement happening in your body. When your body changes, you will be over the anger. You don’t get over the anger by mentally willing yourself. You get over it because your body gets to experience the full experience of that anger. Then it passes.
So radical honesty encourages us to break the taboo on anger and share it specifically and directly. That is how you get over it. We know it sucks. I wish that you could just write a letter and burn it, or punch a pillow, or meditate the anger away. You can try those but I’m guessing they won’t clear your anger.
You might notice that sometimes you distance yourself from someone you are angry at, and that that makes your anger start to dissipate. But your anger is really just dormant. As soon as you see that person, the anger floods back in.
Or you start to notice that you disconnect from certain people, and then dismiss them as having bad energy. Eventually you’ll have a collection of people who were in your life that you no longer want to be close to.
How to revitalize and deepen relationships?
Keep sharing and revealing. Ongoing honesty and continually clearing what you are irritated about, what you appreciate, what makes you sad, all clears the slate and allows you to be fully present with the person. The more that you do this ongoing revealing, the less triggered you are by things and the more relaxed you become.
As we know from spiritual teachings, each moment is totally new, but we build these intense stories that we are attached to. The more we out ourselves for all the stuff we have been withholding, the more we are able to be present with the person and feel creative, love, and new energetic connections with that person. Sharing what you have withheld creates newness and creates the possibility of deeper connection.
Or, we might feel that it is time to move on, break off and try to connect deeply with someone else.
Does radical honesty actually work?
It works pretty well, most of the time. About 90% of the time, beginning an honest discussion works to entirely renew a relationship. It doesn’t work all the time and sometimes it actually makes things worse for a while but not nearly as often as your mind will tell.
Even if it doesn’t renew a specific relationship, it can still work for you personally to improve the quality of contact you have between yourself and others. The truth is not everyone in the world is up for forgiveness or completion. I’m still attached to some of my righteous indignation with some people. But the best way to get over this indignation and to get to forgiveness, is directly sharing what you have been withholding.
So from a radical honesty perspective, how to get over anger is to share it specifically and directly, and to notice your body as you are doing this. To build a deep loving relationship regularly engage in this process so you create the opportunity to see each other anew, and be honest, real and alive with each other.