Want a truly honest relationship?
Try our Airport method!
In most polls, people value honesty in a partner above all else. That’s because good looks, large bank accounts, and even humor are nothing if the relationship (or even parts of it) are based on lies or half-truths. Even as it is highly valued and desired, most people have an incredibly difficult time dealing with actual honesty, in both the giving and receiving of it. The divorce rate for couples is still astoundingly high in our society. Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and even addiction issues seem to arise from a lack of true connection with your partner and friends. Relationships which lack the freedom to be honest with one another mean there is always an invisible wall up, always a border that can’t be crossed for fear of hurt, rejection, or dismissal. Many issues could be resolved with actual honesty and the ability to receive that honesty as a gift meant to bring about more connection. But how do you get to the point where you can not only be really honest with those you love, but you can also receive honest feedback from others? And can it also help you be honest with yourself?
If you’re ready for real honesty
If you’re ready for a real exercise in honesty with someone you love, consider the airport analogy below.
- Airports are amazingly perfect places for planes to land. They are spacious and literally designed to allow huge aircraft to land and take off from them hour after hour, day after day. The physical airport doesn’t appear to care what type of aircraft lands there—it is just available for all things to land.
—If you want people in your life to be honest with you, you must be like the airport. Be open and available for anything to land, without judgement. Be a safe spot for those you care about to be open and honest with you, and the connection between the two of you will likely strengthen. Your partner will feel that he or she is able to tell you how they feel. Your friends will be able to share truths with you that they can’t share elsewhere. Humans crave connection, and they crave honest connection most of all.
- As perfect landing places as airports are, they still need some help from time to time. There are lights along the landing strips to illuminate safe zones when daylight is dim. There are clear, large markings telling pilots how to safely “come home”.
—If you want to increase the chances that your friends and family will be open and honest with you, start a dialogue with them. Let them know that you have been thinking of ways to strengthen your relationship, and that you feel allowing open truthfulness between you is a great way to begin. Sometimes, people will feel threatened by this—assuming you just want permission to tell them what you think is wrong about them. Assure them that you are lighting up the landing zones for their honesty, allowing them to be comfortable with you, not looking for permission to start ticking off a list of their bad habits. Give them clear signals that you are as neutral as the airport—here to land on—and that you won’t judge them for what they may say.
As an important side note, you may not enjoy the truths you hear from family and friends. It may sting to hear that some of your actions are not taken in the manner in which you believed. But if you want true connections with others—you want to eliminate the barriers which prevent this. Don’t lash out at the person who is being raw and honest with you. Thank them for their honesty, and then reflect. Did they misinterpret your meaning? Was there a miscommunication? How could you communicate your intentions more clearly, so that they hear what you mean? You may want to go slowly at first, and only allow your “airport” to be open at certain times, when you feel you are ready and capable of hearing. As you reflect on the sting of hard landings, you should be able to see more clearly where they are coming from. This naturally increases the feeling of connectedness with them. If you truly understand where your loved ones are seeing you from, you can more easily communicate with them so that they see where you are coming from. Additionally, as you become a soft landing place for those closest to you, they will likely be open to become the same for you! As a warning, you should not do this exercise in the hopes that you’ll “get your turn”. That isn’t an honest relationship, that’s a recipe for disconnection. Note that you can’t be a pilot without first offering up your own airport to land in!
- Pilots have to do their job well, too. Airports aren’t just wide nets who go after aircrafts flying dangerously fast or recklessly around the skies. Pilots must announce their flight plans prior to take off, and get permission to land at their desired location.
—If you believe your loved one has their mental airport ready for your own truth plane, you must take the same precautions the pilot does. Announce your intentions, and get permission to speak. Perhaps their mind is already crowded with thoughts from the day, stresses from work, or other issues, and they don’t have a clear runway for you to land at this time. Never fling a truth at a person if the desired outcome is more connection—you’ll likely crash and burn. Fly carefully and straight towards your destination, and don’t detour through things you think up along the way. If your goal is to share something with your partner or friend that you believe will help your relationship be stronger, you don’t want to zig zag into all the other things you believe are wrong or annoying along the way.
- Pilots don’t just crash down and expect to be safe. They approach the gates, slow down their craft, and put out landing gear for a safely completed journey.
—If you are given the green light to approach a friend or loved one about something you believe they are oblivious to, it is your duty to take care with your delivery. Provided you care about them and how they will receive your message, make sure they know that you aren’t just criticizing their actions. Let them know that you believe they may not know how their actions were perceived by you, that you may not have perceived them in the way they intended, and you’d like to get clarity about it all. This isn’t a vent session—this is a dialogue meant to allow you to understand one another better. Keep that in mind, always.
- Successful landings often need help from professionals who can help guide the plane to their correct path and communicate with the tower to let them know what they are seeing on the ground.
—If you are struggling with loved ones in your quest for honest conversations, or just want to start off on the right foot with some guidance, don’t discount the services by a trusted coach, therapist, or mediator. Professionals aren’t just there when things are “broken”, they can also help you establish healthier patterns in your relationships and act as a liaison to help both sides see where adjustments may be needed. You want a neutral third party who can give gentle directions to both sides on when to slow down, how to more clearly communicate, and when to potentially reflect again on what was said if there was a misunderstanding. Having a guide can make the entire process go smoothly, and allow you to learn how to navigate more honest dialogue on your own together!
- Even routine flights may experience turbulence!
—Just because you have gotten the green light for real honesty in the past, or just because it seemed effortless once, don’t expect that you won’t have bumpy rides along the way. You know how some days, everything seems to go your way? You feel light, carefree, and content…and even getting notes on your big project from your boss feels more like an amazing opportunity to grow rather than a criticism? Those are obviously clear sky days. But there are other days, where it feels like your sock seam is rubbing you the wrong way from the moment you get dressed, small things continually seem to go sideways, and life is just a little bit harder today than normal. On those days, getting notes on your big project from your boss may sting quite a bit. That’s when turbulence is evident. Still yet, there are days where your whole life feels like it is caving in, when major stressors appear and you feel due for a crash at any moment. On these rough days, getting the same notes may feel like you are about to lose your job, or worse! Remember, we can’t always see other people’s skies. If you feel unsure about whether or not it’s a good time to approach, wait for another time, slow down, or ask for permission to proceed.
Honesty takes courage
It takes courage to open yourself up have a truly honest relationship with yourself and others, but the benefits of connecting with other humans are endless. You’ll get to see how others perceive your actions and words. You will likely get the opportunity to correct those misperceptions. The invisible walls of dishonesty, half truths, and people pleasing finally have the freedom to disintegrate. You and your loved ones get a real shot at knowing one another—authentically—and having someone know the real you and loving you for it is one of the most purely beautiful things in the world. Additionally, you’ll get to know yourself along the way. The real, unvarnished truth of yourself, where you have nothing to hide and no one to hide from. And in that knowing lies true freedom to fly in clear blue skies.
If you’d like to learn more about our Airport method for honesty or how our mindfulness-based addiction treatment program may be right for you, call 800.556.2966 today! Or contact us on the web by clicking here!