radical honesty

I found this on a friend’s page (thanks, virginia!) and it pretty much sums up how I feel about how to have non-stupid relationships with other human beings on this planet, and also how to have any sort of chance at happiness in this life. The concept of Radical Honesty sounds almost too easy, like, how could the secret to happiness be so simple? but it’s actually the hardest thing in the entire world, and many people are completely incapable of it. Try it! You won’t be able to do it, and then you’ll find some reason to rationalize the fact that you can’t do it. It’s totally intense! I try to do it every day, and I’ve lost jobs, friends and dates from it!

wiki how- Radical Honesty

I especially like this part-

Think deeply about whether you’re really doing anyone a favor by lying. Should you really shelter someone from reality? Are you giving the recipient of your white lie enough credit? Do you assume they’re too weak to handle the truth?

  • Consider that telling someone the truth presents the opportunity to help them learn how to not take things personally, which is a very valuable life skill to have.
  • In a way, it’s manipulative and patronizing to pretend to be interested in what someone is saying, when you’re really not. That’s what we often do with kids, because we consider them too immature and inexperienced to understand that not everyone is interested in what they are interested in. If you treat the people around you the same way you treat children, then you might just find that the people around you act like children.
  • Is lying ever really the best way to express compassion? Or is it the easiest way for you to avoid confrontation, rejection, or discomfort? If you’re going to lie, then perhaps you can be honest with yourself about why you’re lying–don’t tell yourself it’s for that person’s own good, or that you’re being kind, when it’s really because you don’t have the courage to be completely honest yet.

And these warnings are great too-


  • Esquire writer AJ Jacobs, tried radical honesty for one month and considered it the worst month of his life.[3][4] You may not enjoy this “therapy”. (here’s the article he wrote, it’s awesome!)
  • At worst, you’ll be fired, divorced, disowned, and sued. At best, you’ll be considered rude, you’ll get invited out more because you’re entertaining to be around, and the relationships that remain in your life will be healthier.

8 thoughts on “radical honesty

  1. Oh, dear brilliant Carrot, thanks for posting this article. It made me giggle when I first read it, especially about how if you treat people like children they act like it. How often I have worked with numb-skulls that act this way and wanted to tell them about it. How often have I lied in my life and kept my mouth shut, fearing rejection mostly, when speaking the truth would have assuaged all my fears and taught me to be a better person because then, if I spoke the truth all the time it would have taught me to be responsible for all of my thoughts and actions.

    It is easier to lie than to not. I once read a study explaining that the brain has to work much harder to tell a lie than to omit to the truth – and I am a lazy person who hates to work more than is necessary, lol.

    Truth IS painful, but lying only teaches people to be fearful, to be self-conscious, and to be irresponsible, and to create and harbor tension in all our relationships, day in and day out, which creates stress, which in turn causes folks to rely on drugs, illegal and legal, in order to cope. Lying is probably the most common form of escape, when you think about it.

    Of course the first thing that popped into my mind were the justifications of lying when I read those articles above, but when I thought about it, I came to realize that I have my best friend in the whole world because she was radically honest with me. If she hadn’t been, she would have never told me “no” and we would not be friends today, and I would not have met her girlfriend, who I became best friends with in turn, and I would not be an integral part of the happiness they have so lovingly extended to me. It is so wonderful to know that you’ve got friends who REALLY DO love you for who you are, aren’t afraid to tell your mistakes to your face, get annoyed at you from time to time and yet still miss you when you’re gone. ^.^

    Truth stings like a BITCH. But if you’re PREPARED to be honest, and accept absolute honesty, it doesn’t hurt at bad for as long and guess what? No stress-ulcers!! Honesty forces to accept others and yourself and helps you move on.

    I went through a mental list of everyone that I know, and thought about their reactions to me being radically honest, and I am happy to say that pretty much everyone I live and work with and are friends with – and myself – would enjoy and benefit from a radically honest discussion. I hate trying to figure out what people think of me – I just want to know!!

    Honesty weeds out those who are not really your friends. In my experience in life, I have always become closer to those people who just broke down and became totally honest with me. And I don’t see how my current friends would react badly if I told them – “Hey, I read this article today about radical honestly. Lets practice. You go first.”

    It would make for some very entertaining conversation, lol.

    When I get time next to write in my blog, I’m linking to this article of yours. I both adore and am jealous of your brilliance, Carrot, but that’s only because you write shit that MAKES ME THINK! (Don’t tell anybody that I secretly adore thinking – it might damage my reputation, LOL!)


    Keep it up, woman!!!

  2. i lost my last ‘real’ job by being honest and discovered that a district supervisor doesn’t neccesarily want a straight answer when they ask ‘got everything under control?’ any response that indicates a chance of ‘going to heck in a handbasket’ may not be appreciated 😦
    Even so, i’m much happier being poor and almost homeless, rather than facing the prospect of portraying a false enthusiasm 🙂

  3. Carrot,

    Thank you for making this post. That Esquire article was great and I think I’ll try this out until it causes someone to murder me.

    I think you’re a conceited asshole, but not necessarily any much more so than every other 20-something blogger. You’re an angry hippy lesbian who hates white men and straight people, which seems to make it quite difficult for you to communicate with them.

    You admit to knowing nothing about economics, but can’t resist an opportunity to hate on capitalism. That kind of intentional ignorance really pisses me off.

    And it pisses me off that you think it’s ok to shoplift. Shoplifting is essentially enslaving other people. Making someone work and produce something for free. That’s fucked up.

    Despite these shortcomings, you’re words speak to me in an indescribable way. Or maybe it is describable, but I can’t describe it myself because I’m not 1/1000th as good a writer as you. I think you’re incredibly smart, witty, observant, brave and funny. If I weren’t asexual I’d have a huge boner for you. Ever since I started reading this blog, I think about you whenever I see a hitchhiker or a freight train.

  4. Eric- holy shit, I just laughed SO hard. I’ll tell you want tho, it’s kind of interesting that I come off that way to you in my blog, because I actually get along with everyone. This blog is just my place to vent, you know, because that’s what blogs are. And I have plenty of friends, believe it or not, that are straight and white and even male. It’s just the privilege that I’m ranting against, not the human beings! But I’m glad you told me how you feel- now our anonymous non-relationship can be, um, healthier?! (ok, I think the idea is to do the honesty thing in person, but the internet is a good place to start!)

    So I think you’re a reactionary, defensive dude with some guilt going on who doesn’t understand where I’m coming from, but no more so than any other faceless commenter. Although it stresses me sometimes that you (as in all my anonymous readers) will react to every post I make without understanding it, it makes me happy that even though you think I’m an asshole, you can’t stop reading my blog!

  5. Greencaller- wise words, yours! Thanks for sharing!

    Fenu- brave soul! It IS better, yes, to be broke and honest!

  6. ha. things that have happened to me since attempting to be “radically honest”:
    1. lost job
    2. lost like ten friends
    3. made like ten new friends
    4. fell in love, started first healthy relationship i’ve ever been in (whoa)

    i highly recommend all of it though, tell you what.

  7. Hello,

    I stumbled onto your blog after reading that review from the feminist review blog, which I also happened to stumble upon.

    Just in case you were wondering where i came from, and why this may be considered a belated comment.

    Anyway, being someone who has ignorantly used radical honesty for probably a good chunk of the last four years of my life (at least), I’m gonna tell you I’m a bit skeptical of this as a revolutionary tool for improving meaningful interpersonal relationships.

    Yeah, there are good times to use it, but you shouldn’t assume that people are ready to be self-critical/reflective, or that they want your help, or that your opinions and your ‘truths’ have any value to them. That sounds harsh, (am I being radically honest right now?) but I think that if you keep to this practice you forget the subjectivity of your own ideas and thoughts and forget that you lack the temporal context of the other person’s experiences, and what you think is helpful is actually just ‘another time’ somebody adds on to whatever burden they are carrying. Because I’m figuring that if you’re battling off your urge to lie to that person, whatever it is you want to say isn’t a compliment.

    Yeah, it might be patronizing to maintain social etiquette in certain situations, but when both parties have consented (and you can sort of tell when the person is aware and when they’re not aware of the social etiquettes) then it’s really not that patronizing. You sort of assume that half the things that are being said to you are being said just to subdue you or whatever, and you take it for what it is.

    And I think that that’s what the radical honesty that’s being argued in that article is suggesting too – that both parties are consenting in this act. That by initiating radical honesty and having the other person recognize, consent and participate in this radical honesty, you create a more meaningful relationship. Otherwise it won’t work.

    Or maybe everybody already knew that, and I’m just belatedly, figuring it out. But I think it’s definitely something to be aware of, because there are people who just won’t want to consent to a relationship based on radical honesty, but still are awesome, amazing people, and by blindly adhering to these practices, you could lose or hurt your relationship with them – and I think it would be wasteful to knock it off to, “Well I guess it wasn’t a meaningful relationship to begin with” because that devalues those meaningful relationships we are able to have with people while maintaining social etiquette.

    Maybe they’re not the same sort of relationship, but they can still be meaningful.

    I mean, are you radically honesty with your grandmother? (you’ve got a pretty modern grandmother if you do.)

    Did I just give a “Different but the same?” argument? Shudder.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

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