Anne Milligan, LCSW
Counseling Therapy
4010 Dupont Circle #480
Louisville, KY  40291
502-423-0220 or email at:  info@annemilligan.com

Emotional Honesty With Yourself

"To thine own self be true"
This is a commonly-quoted and yet far more difficult edict to carry out.
What is emotional honesty and why is it an important part of a healthy, positive, balanced life?

Emotional honesty is the willingness of each individual to look inward, to be "Mindful"
of our emotional reactions, and to question where those reactions are coming from (in ourselves).

Emotional honesty does not blame others so much as look at the truth in ourselves. Emotional honesty leads to far less judgement of others because we are forced to see that what we don't like in others, is probably in ourselves. Emotional honesty does not necessarily mean guilt and shame. Emotional honesty just looks at things as they are, asks personal questions about our own part in a problem, and creatively searches out solutions accordingly.

You might ask, "Why would I want to do that? How could that kind of honesty possibly be helpful to me?"

Well, let me share with you the great "secret" of emotional honesty, that is at the core of all good therapy: Once you own your own "stuff" and resolve it in yourself, the less you will mysteriously draw it to yourself from others! I (Anne Milligan) learned this lesson a few years ago. On my commute to my office, I would notice that whenever I left home with some simmering anger I hadn't dealt with, I would seem to draw that kind of anger to myself on the road, in the form of angry drivers, people tailgaiting and swerving in out of traffic, and some drivers who were just downright dangerous! Sometimes, to my great chagrine, I would act that way right back. That seemed to happen a lot until I started to meditate on thougths of peace and serenity every morning for at least a half-hour. I also had to "get real" about what was really bothering me. I began to notice a clear difference, and I still do, in terms of the kind of "energy" I draw to myself. Even if I do encounter some angry drivers, I respond in a completely different way. I have control over whether I engage or not. That is the "empowering" part of emotional honesty. And in close relationships, we find most often that if we will look to ourselves for solutions to problems it will be a lot more effective than trying to control and change someone else.

Writing in a daily journal is one of the most helpful steps in gaining some sense of honesty with ourselves, what we're REALLY feeling, apart from the standard reactions and masks we wear for others. I often encourage my clients to try writing at least three pages a day of "stream of consciousness" thoughts and shred them as soon as they finish writing. You do not want to censor your true thoughts and feelings for fear that someone else will read them. You might be surprised, after you have skimmed the surface of your thoughts in the first page or two, what is really lying underneath the surface. Try this for a week or two and see if you don't discover something new about yourself. If you do decide to take up journal writing, always remember to close your daily journaling with something you are grateful for. Gratitude goes a long way toward bringing everything into perspective.


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