At a young age, we’re taught that a person’s integrity and character is dependent upon being honest. If you didn’t do your homework, you’re not supposed to tell the teacher that your dog ate it. If you failed a test, you’re not supposed lie to your parents and tell them that you aced it. If you broke an ancient family heirloom, you’re not supposed to hide it under the counter. These are just the simple facts taught to children of what you should and should not do.
Children are also taught the importance of kindness. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then you’re not supposed to say it at all.
However, the ideas of kindness and honesty don’t always go hand in hand. You don’t want to tell Grandma that she’s overweight or that she smells funny, so instead you’re taught to fib. Giving an altered or censored version of the truth is commonly known as filtering. Filtered content is the verbal output of the thoughts your brain naturally produces minus the parts that could hurt someone’s feelings.
Even though we’re brought up on this notion of filtering, is that really the best way to go about daily life as an adult?
If our brains have reached full development, which by adulthood they should have, then hypothetically we should be equipped to handle the truth without going into complete demolition. While filtering may be a better choice in situations where hurtful words to a stranger could cause you a bruised eye or broken rib, constantly purging our thoughts leaves us and our peers with a distorted view of reality.
Filtering is a common choice because it saves us, and whomever we’re delivering the bad news to, despair caused by an unsightly critique. However, receiving filtered content prohibits us from improving on our flawed processes, which ultimately leads to a lack of revelation. Taking this theory one step further, negative feedback often times insinuates in our brain that we’ve failed. Failure is a breeding ground for success, as we learn from our mistakes and grow from them. If we’re constantly making mistakes, but internally they’re recognized as satisfactory or even successful, then we haven’t been knocked down by our failure in order to get back up and start again. Rather, we’re just going to keep continuing down a dead end path because nobody gave the common courtesy to speak up and give honest feedback.
Not only is honesty vital to idea creation, improvement and development, it also plays a crucial role in our relationships. Relationships are built on trust, which is no surprise. However, people don’t really think about how that trust is built. In fact, it is developed overtime by the continuous delivery of a higher level of thought and emotion specifically to that one person, i.e. sharing your deeper thoughts with a friend, family member or partner. When you trust someone with your deeper thoughts, in theory, you’re not filtering because you’re sharing something interpersonal in the idea that you’re strengthening a bond. Without this “honesty,” relationships would severely suffer because there would be nothing to connect you and that other person beyond the surface, or in other words a lack of depth.
So if honesty is essential to the growth of our infrastructure as a community, then why do people filter? Is it because of what we’re taught, or is it because we’ve been in a relationship where trust was broken and so subsequently we have a hard time delivering honesty? Since people tend to actively filter in some situations and speak their mind in others, it would suggest that it’s a combination of both ideas. We’re constantly combatting that moral upbringing of not intentionally trying to hurt another person while also trying to save ourselves from the same kind of pain.
While it’s not the end all be all in any situation, reminding yourself that honesty is what breaks down barriers and facades, improves our community and creates greatness will ultimately lead to more success for all of us. Honesty is what makes this world real; and without it, life would be pretty boring.