The Importance of Honesty

When we hear the word "honesty" we often think of being honest with others. Of course, that's incredibly important, but I'm more interested in honesty (or dishonesty) with ourselves. How many times have you done or said something only to have that nagging feeling in your stomach that what occurred wasn't quite right? But you ignored it (or so you thought) and moved on. Yet, life has a funny way of continually presenting us with the same circumstances over and over. But do we even realize it? If we realize it, do we take the opportunity to be more honest with ourselves or do we continue on the same, dishonest path?

"I was on pace for the best ride of my life with 1.5 miles left." The moment of honesty: my husband crashed his bike during a race and realized he wasn't going to be riding his bike for awhile.

Honesty presents itself within sport (and life) frequently. Maybe you're dealing with an injury you know you should get checked but are avoiding because you're concerned about being away from your sport. Maybe there's some feedback you want to give to a teammate but are shying away from it and pretending it's not that important. Maybe you're struggling with something and your coach should know but want to pretend it's not happening. Maybe you're burnt out and want some time away from your sport but don't want to admit it. Maybe you want to have a conversation about something important with your significant other but avoid it because it's "easier" right now. These are just examples I can think of off the top of my head; there's hundreds more.

The funny thing with dishonesty, however, is that it does nothing other than dig a bigger hole for ourselves. I remember training for my first half-marathon many years ago. As a sprinter in high school, I never dreamed of running anything over a mile (okay, 800 meters, I'm being very generous with myself...I did NOT like running in high school). But I was done with graduate school and needed a hobby, so I started running. I had a friend who trained for a marathon, so I figured I'd go for the half marathon. I was terrified, so I didn't miss any workout for any reason. Unfortunately, I also ignored a nagging pain in my foot until right before the half-marathon (you see where this is going). Although I was cleared to run by medical professionals, this issue could have been resolved much easier had I dealt with it immediately. I'm smart, and I knew it wasn't going to get better without changing something. Yet, it was my dishonesty that got me into a more difficult spot. Fortunately, I learned a ton from this and deal with concerns pretty quickly now, and it's always paid off.

There are endless reasons why we're dishonest with ourselves, but I think it often comes down to one fact. We don't want to deal with it right now (and are hoping it goes away on it's own). On one hand, some things do naturally resolve themselves (or we think they do only to present as a MUCH bigger issue later). However, I think that's the exception rather than the norm. I encourage you to really ask yourself if delaying dealing with the issue will really pay off. It's a hard question, though. Which is why you need to pay attention to that nagging feeling in your gut that only you know is there. Will it REALLY pay off to wait? Or do you just want it to be that way? It's a big difference.

Dr. Erin Haugen is a licensed clinical psychologist and sport/performance psychologist located in Grand Forks, ND. She specializes in helping college student-athletes excel in sports and in life. She is a former basketball player, current triathlete, and LOVES dogs. 

Disclaimer: You should consult and appropriate professional for specific advice tailored to your situation. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, you should call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.