How To Start Living With Radical Honesty

"We spend our lives searching for acceptance and love and, yet, we so often keep ourselves separate from these because of our fear of being seen. Of bringing out the parts of us that we are afraid will not be accepted."
Caroline is a transformation coach and meditation teacher.
radical honesty
Caroline is a transformation coach and meditation teacher.

In this column, Caroline Stewart explores three steps of self-honesty to live with radical honesty and how to share your authentic truth.

Radical Honesty To Unveil Our Masks

I’ve never been satisfied with half truths. I remember as a kid hearing the words that were being spoken by those around me and knowing deep in my bones that these words weren’t reflecting the truth. So often there was a holding back. It was very confusing to me.  I just couldn’t understand why someone would pretend. What was the point?

At the same time, I knew that this hiding wasn’t right. I felt the tension this lack of honesty created. It was like I was playing a role. Pretending to be the perfect character of me so that I would be liked, and then having to keep up appearances so no one would find out the ‘truth’.

We can’t play a role forever.

Don’t you find it tiring? This hiding behind a mask. I got so tired of this game that I felt myself come to a divergence of two choices: continue to pretend and live my life in fear and separation or figure out my truth and risk being rejected.

What Is Radical Honesty?

This is where Radical Honesty comes in. A complete truthfulness that holds nothing back. No veils of illusion. No layers of protection. Only the direct reflection of what is, as it is, without judgment or separation.

The fear that holds us back from this Truth is not reality. As we will explore together, it is the illusion of our separation. The belief in our unworthiness.

As pioneers on this path of self-realization, we KNOW that we aren’t here to play small. We’ve felt the suffering of lies and are willing to step up to the truth, regardless of the consequences. Truth holds its own kind of energy. It feels clean. Unencumbered. You know what this truth feels like. It’s the simplicity of what is. There is no posturing, no man-behind-the-curtain. Nothing is held back and everything is available.

We spend our lives searching for acceptance and love and, yet, we so often keep ourselves separate from these because of our fear of being seen. Of bringing out the parts of us that we are afraid will not be accepted.

When we finally reconcile this truth, the honesty of what is, we find the gifts we were searching for. It begins with the acceptance and love of Self, and then extends outwards. There is joy in getting real, in living the truth of who we are. And the light of who we are is free to shine through for all to see.

Forgetting: Where Dishonesty Comes From

I don’t think that we are always intentionally dishonest. At times it is even difficult to know what the truth is. But this is simply because we have forgotten.

Early in our lives we are taught that there are parts of us that are unlovable. Maybe it’s the angry part, the quiet part, or the needy part. Or perhaps it’s the grieving part, the sad part, or even the fun, joyful part. Being ‘socialized’ is all about learning the parts of us that are acceptable, and the parts that are not. I believe that our parents and all of our teachers of what is socially acceptable mean well. For the most part, they desire for us an easy life. One where we fit in, and understand the rules of social behaviour. But this doesn’t make it right.

A part of us suffers when we lack full acceptance. And it all starts with this development of our Shadow.

Read more: Dorothy Ratusny explains the damaging effects of lacking self-love in children all through adulthood.

The Development Of Our Shadow

As a child, the difference between not desired/desired and bad/good is that one hurts and one doesn’t. This is the interplay of light and dark. The light we embrace because it feels like home. And we often fear the dark because it feels like suffering. Carl Jung calls this the Shadow.

Everything that we are learning, everything that we experience, is about finding our way back to this light. Most notably the Shadow—it exists ONLY because of the light and, therefore, points to what is blocking the light. This is the gift of the shadow… the secret of suffering and the meaning of why we forget.

The Shadow develops through the process of socialization. As a child, when we show traits and behaviours that are acceptable to our family and to our society, we are welcomed into the group and praised. When we show traits and behaviours that are not acceptable we are shunned or ostracized (this may be in subtle or overt ways).

Socialization teaches us that components of our personality aren’t acceptable and so we suppress and hide the components of self we’ve determined aren’t valid, and thus create the Shadow. We hide these parts of ourselves through the Persona and socially accepted worldview—a carefully constructed mask.


“Conscience is the representative of the collective norm.” — Eric Neumann

When we get a bit older and gain some maturity, we become less outwardly dependent on others, and now rely on our inner guide—our conscience. This inner guide is formed based on our early socialization. It is the voice of our social upbringing, ingrained deep within our subconscious.

Our conscience tells us what is good and what is bad, what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t. Because of this essential role, our conscience shapes our personality and ultimately our destiny.

This understanding of conscience as a continuation of socialization is a bit of a different view than what many believe our conscience to be. Oftentimes, conscience is mistaken for intuition. But the truth is that our conscience, our moral ‘guide’, is actually a remnant of the commands and expectations of others that we have since internalized.

Read more: How often are you in a room with others and ask the question, “I wonder what they are thinking of me? Explore how to stop caring about what others think and take back your personal power.

Forgetting The Truth & Repressing Individuality

“To the extent that man is untrue to the law of his being and does not rise to personality, he has failed to realize his life’s meaning.” — Carl Jung

As we age and the demands of society continue to exert control over our actions, we further repress our individual expression. By this time, we are used to the process. It feels more comfortable following along than questioning the expectations. This repression causes a separation from Self—from the uniqueness that we are and the deeper meaning and purpose of why we are here.

Carl Jung believed that the Truth was the path back to Self. That until we recognize and accept our genuine individual needs and the Truth of our being, we will continue to repress our individuality. We’ve looked at the Shadow as illusion. And really, that’s what all forgetting is—a smoke-and-mirrors show that keeps us from expressing Truth. The secret to seeing through the illusion is remembering.

Remembering: The Joy Is In Getting Real

Remembering is the first step in Radical Honesty. It is the process of uncovering all of the lies we tell ourselves and seeing them for the illusion that they are. We can think of these lies as limiting beliefs. Patterns of thought that may have served a purpose at one time, but are no longer welcome.

When we begin the process of remembering, we find that many of these beliefs crop up. And not always gently.

Truth Is Courage

It takes courage to face the Truth. The veils that separate us from the light form a part of our sense of safety. Even though we may see the pain that is being caused by the separation from truth, we may not feel ready to face the consequences of removing the protective barriers.

I say barriers because this is exactly what they are. They are walls, originally designed to keep away danger, but now functioning mainly as a means of imprisonment. The barriers we build do not actually protect us. Sure, they give us the sense of safety. But in reality, they keep us trapped.

The solution is courage. Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Courage is tearing down the barriers and being willing to face whatever it is that may cause harm. When we choose courage (and yes, it IS a choice!), we begin to see the walls that kept us ‘safe’ are no longer needed. In fact, they are now barriers to your true desire of connection and love.

Compassion Before Truth

I know that I started by talking about the importance of being truthful, but this isn’t all that’s needed. In order to hold space for Truth, there first needs to be compassion.

Compassion is simply acceptance. It is the ability to hold space for what is, as it is. This means that the habits and patterns you’ve formed over a lifetime are accepted. The fears that naturally arise are welcomed in. The judgments you just can’t seem to let go of are a guest at the party.

When we first cultivate compassion, all that arises is ok. The shame that so often arises when we begin uncovering the truth holds no power. It too is accepted and held with love.

How To Practice Radical Honesty: The 3 Steps

Ok, I think we’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting to get us to the point where we’re ready to uncover radical honesty. As Truth is personal, we must always start with self-honesty. Even if we feel that it’s important we share our Truth with others, it is essential that we first do the work of getting to the heart of our Truth.

When we’re ready to uncover the Truth, there are three steps we must go through in order to connect to the heart of our Truth.

1. Compassion

Yup! Here’s that word again. I wasn’t kidding when I said that it comes first. The quality of compassion can be felt as an opening of the heart. In meditation, we cultivate compassion by tapping into the natural quality of openness that resides in the heart. This creates a safe container for inquiring into our Truth.

2. Inquiry

Once we’ve set the stage with compassion, we can inquire into Truth. If you are a seasoned meditator, this may be a familiar process for you. If you’re new to inquiry, or just want a bit more support in exploring what lies beyond the illusions, here’s the question I like to ask when uncovering Truth:

What is my Truth, in this moment, right here, right now?

Inquiry can be done in many different ways. Journalling, Meditation, talking with a trusted advisor. The purpose of this step of Self-Honesty is to reveal what was perhaps previously hidden, suppressed or fear. It is making the unknown known.

Before discovering the third step towards radical honesty you might like to pause here and listen to one of these guided meditations by Caroline Stewart:

  1. Radical Honesty - Holding Space For Truth Caroline Stewart 18:49
  2. Releasing Energetic Binds Caroline Stewart 17:19
  3. Practicing Self-Love - From Inner Critic To Positive Self-Talk Caroline Stewart 21:09

3. Acceptance

Yes, this is similar to compassion. But now, it takes on a much more active role. Compassion is the space holder for Truth. And once the Truth is revealed, we will likely experience much of the emotion that has kept us trapped in illusion. Perhaps it is anger or blame for the lies we’ve told ourselves. Or maybe it’s a fear of what this Truth will change in your life if it becomes known. A common experience is shame, where we feel an inherent sense of unworthiness based on our experience.

Acceptance is kindness to Self. It is the gentle self-talk we use to remind ourselves that we ARE worthy. That we have done our best and that all of our experience has led us to the Truth that we now choose.

Sharing Your Authentic Truth

I mentioned that Self-Honesty comes before sharing our Truth with others. You know what it feels like when someone projects their ideas onto you. It’s like a slap in the face. And until you have taken the time to really get honest first with yourself, your Truth is unprocessed and often comes out as blaming.

This is one that I can personally relate to so much. I spent the better part of ten years hiding my Truth and when I finally came to the place where I was ready to face this, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I would get upset with my partner and immediately want to talk it out. It always seemed to start with “you did…” or “you said…”. It was so outwardly-focused that I didn’t even know how to get to the authenticity that lay below.

Now, I don’t actually regret this. It was a learning for me.   saw that my Truth wasn’t really coming from a place of awareness and acceptance. It felt like projecting, and it was. This too can be part of the return to Truth.

Sharing With Authenticity

Once you have taken the time to process your Truth, you may decide that you wish to share this. Perhaps you recognize that you have been living in discord with your Truth and that you want to reconcile this. Or maybe you feel the need to set new boundaries within a relationship. Another possibility is that something has happened in the past that you feel needs to be worked through.

When offered in a safe container of trust, Truth has the power of deepening intimacy and connection. In a healthy intimate relationship, Truth is essential.  Without it, we are not experiencing the reality of our partner. In the absence of Truth, we don’t actually HAVE a relationship with that person. Our masks, our personas, have the relationship—but we don’t.

Once we have taken the time to connect to the heart of our Truth, we can share with kindness. The compassion and acceptance that we have cultivated for ourselves extends outwards to others and helps to foster connection, rather than further separation.

Read more: In another article, Caroline explore the practice of cutting energy cords and establishing healthy boundaries.

Inspiring Others: Leading From The Hears

The beauty in sharing our Truth is that we then empower others to do the same. We cultivate honest relationships that are built on a solid foundation of presence. Presence being the experience of Self in this very moment.

We talk about wanting others to be honest with us. But how can this be possible until we’ve first cultivated self-honesty and shared our authentic Truth? Remember, the joy is in getting real. The meaning—the connection and love that we are seeking —is ours once we choose the path and the practice of ongoing Radical Honesty.

Meditation. Free.