How honest are you with yourself? It’s a simple yet tough question—one that most of us avoid because it’s not always easy to answer. So our go-to is to pretend like we’ve got it all figured out.
The truth is, self-honesty is necessary to live out our lives in fulfillment. Sure, it might be uncomfortable and even painful at times, but the upsides? They’re totally worth it.
It’s something Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley, is well aware of.
“Your relationship with the world is a mirror reflection of your relationship with yourself,” she says in her book, Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life. And when you come to grips with who you truly are, your relationship with the world will align.
As Mufasa said to Simba in The Lion King, “Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.” And if the lion king can face his truth, so can you.
What Does It Mean to Be Honest With Yourself?
Being honest with yourself takes a combination of things: self-awareness, compassion, and love. It requires you to look internally at what you believe, desire, and value. And based on the “honesty” definition by the American Psychological Association, you’re able to express your true feelings and openly share your experiences.
While it often relates to weeding out your weaknesses and shortcomings, it’s also about acknowledging the good things.
“[Honesty] is that quality which sets the wheels in motion,” explains Kristina.
It’s like when Simba owns up to his mistakes, and the music goes into a crescendo as he goes back to Pride Rock to take his rightful place as king. There’s power, excitement, and, more importantly, that sense of awe.
The fact is, there’s something incredible about self-honesty. It’s scary because it unearths the flaws you worked so hard to bury. However, it’s also beautiful because it shows you that there’s an opportunity for growth.
5 Reasons Why Self-Honesty Is Important
Back to the question: How honest are you really with yourself? According to Kristina, there’s a huge difference between faking your way through life and actually living it with complete authenticity.
She posed this question to herself, and she admits there are times when she’s not as truthful as she’d like to be. But here’s the kicker of a question she poses: “Can one be 95% honest and authentic?”
“You are either honest or not,” she explains. “You cannot be mostly honest.”
So what does being 100% honest do for you? Here are five of the very many science-backed reasons why it’s important.
1. Increased self-awareness
Self-honesty is all about the inner work. It’s acknowledging all the thoughts and feelings that come up instead of brushing them aside—all in a judgment-free zone.
When you know how to be truthful to yourself, self-awareness shows up in two ways: internally and externally. And here’s what researchers have found when you have both:
- Internal self-awareness allows you to make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and find greater happiness in life. However, when you lack it, there’s the possibility of anxiety, stress, and depression.
- External self-awareness allows you to see yourself from the outside perspective. And that shows you’re empathetic and can take others’ points of view.
The thing is, honesty goes hand in hand with awareness. So when you accept the good in with the bad, you can mold your life into whatever and however you want it to be.
2. Reduced stress and anxiety
Guilt, shame, regret… these are all the feelings you may experience when you’re not being truthful to yourself. It ultimately leads to—no surprise here—stress and anxiety.
As Kristina asks, “How can we be truly honest if we are in the dark about the lies that we tell ourselves?” And so where there’s self-honesty (like real honesty), there’s also self-compassion.
According to research, this can help reduce those stress levels and greatly improve your mind, body, and spirit. As a matter of fact, a 2015 study found that teens who practice self-compassion are more likely to have better emotional and mental health than those who don’t.
3. Improved relationships
Being honest with yourself is an act of self-love. And as you get more comfortable being more open and authentic internally, you’ll find that same openness and authenticity externally.
For example, when Simba was honest with himself and gained the courage to return to Pride Rock, he repaired his relationships with his mom, Nala, and the rest of the pride.
Honesty creates a safe space for more trust, intimacy, and connection, especially in your relationships. Research out of Pennsylvania State University suggests that for relationships to stand the test of time, being truthful is an important factor that needs to be put into play.
4. Greater resilience
When you know how to be honest with yourself, you don’t look at weaknesses and challenges as a sign to give up. Instead, you see them as a chance for improvement.
It’s with this mental toughness that you will have better mental and physical health, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Because, let’s be honest (no pun intended), life can sometimes knock you down. But self-honesty can help build resilience and get you back up.
5. More meaningful life
There’s a certain level of self-respect that’s needed to be honest with yourself. After all, there’s no honor in dishonesty.
It’s as Kristina says, “Honesty starts with being honest about lying.” To get to 100%, there’s an alignment that needs to happen—the one between your actions and behaviors and your values and priorities.
In doing so, you can find peace and happiness within. And as one study shows, “People behave more honestly in a state of happiness than they do in a neutral state.”
What does that mean? Simply put, honesty leads to happiness, and happiness promotes honesty. It’s a circle of life.
3 Ways to Be Honest With Yourself, According to Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani
Being an honest person (in this case, to yourself) does open you up to your imperfections, yes. But it also opens you up to a whole other side of you that you may have taken for granted.
So the question is, how can you be honest with yourself? Taking bits of wisdom from Kristina’s book, here are three ways you can do so.
1. There’s no point in lying about lying
When she gives her talk on authenticity, Kristina often asks her audience to rate their self-honesty. The most common answer (unsurprisingly) is that they believe they’re honest with themselves.
But why’s that so? Why is lying such a part of our existence? Even a 2002 study by the University of Massachusetts found that 60% of adults can’t go 10 minutes without telling a lie at least once.
“Our brain is a great illusionist with just one function—to save and protect us from harm or death,” Kristina explains. And since rejection is considered life-threatening (from the brain’s point of view), “appearing good is rather high on [its] priority list.”
In this case, lying helps put us in a protective bubble so that we don’t have to deal with the harshness of reality. But, as mentioned, you’re either honest or you’re not.
And the first step to 100% is to be honest about the lies you tell yourself.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “Self-deception is not you lying to yourself, but your brain tricking you into viewing the world in a way which is most beneficial to you.”
2. Understand what’s truly true
When it comes to truths, there are two you need to be aware of:
- Absolute truth, which is something that’s true for everyone. One example of this is that the Earth is round.
- Relative truth, which is something that’s true for one person. For instance, you may think strawberry ice cream is the best thing ever, but your friend may think otherwise.
So the next time you find yourself staring at something that you think is certainly true, ask yourself:
- Is it an absolute truth or could it be relative?
- Can I think of any examples or people who defy this generally accepted truth?
You can contemplate it in a discussion with friends, in a journal, or in a loving-kindness meditation. But, as Kristina emphasizes, remember this: “Your Truth” (the truth that you chose to adopt for yourself) is just that—your truth and no one else’s.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “If you can admit that sometimes you lie to yourself (and sometimes, to others), then you are ready to ask yourself this uncomfortable question: “Is this the truth or is this the story I’d like to believe in?’”
3. Stop faking it
That saying, “fake it ‘til you make it” causes more harm than good, according to Kristina. She adds, “It sets us off on the path of self-deception.”
Let’s look at money as an example. There’s a difference between having a mindset of abundance and spending like you’re Anna Delvey.
What’s more, this “faking it” concept may just make you feel like an imposter. A 2022 study found that neurosurgeons who have imposter syndrome suffer from burnout and a negative effect on their well-being. These feelings, according to the paper, can affect their productivity and patient care.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “I wholeheartedly agree that if you want different results in your life, you need to do something different, but if you want a profound change, you have to see into the essence of phenomena; you have to go beyond the facade, beyond the faking.”
“Be Honest With Yourself” Quotes
Here are some great ones, hand-picked to help motivate, inspire, and remind you that being an honest person has its merits:
Honesty is a sharp weapon. And you have to learn to use it properly before you start wielding it.— Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life
Therefore, be honest with yourself as to why you are choosing to do a particular thing. Then, do it gladly, knowing that you are always getting to do what you want.— Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversations With God series and trainer of Mindvalley’s Awaken the Species Quest
Any negative traits you identify are not really yours—they belong to your negative self-image and were programmed into you when you were a child. By identifying them honestly, you are about to let them go!— Paul McKenna, the world’s leading hypnotist and trainer of Mindvalley’s Everyday Bliss Quest
As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself.— Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa
Living a more honest life starts with confronting our own deception instead of simply noticing everyone else’s.— Judi Ketteler, journalist
You can never be true to others if you keep on lying to yourself.— Gift Gugu Mona, poet and transformational speaker
Being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it’ll always get you the right ones.— John Lennon, musician
One must strive to be as honest as you are humanly capable with yourself and others. It is impossible to move forward otherwise.— Tohoru Masamune, Japanese-American actor
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.— Dr. Seuss, children’s author and cartoonist
Remember who you are.— Mufasa, The Lion King
Keeping It Real
Just like Simba learned in The Lion King, you’ve got to get real with yourself to move upward and onward. And if you’re looking for more guidance on the art of imperfection, you can find it in Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s book, Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life.
“Real change happens when you have the courage to dive deep,” she says, “to see the essence of things, to be honest, even brutally honest with yourself, and accept reality as it is.” That’s what being flawesome (embracing the awesomeness of your flaws) is all about.
So take off those rose-tinted glasses and see yourself for the beauty that you truly are.