Every month here at True Balance Karate, we have a socio-emotional program called True Character, and we have a word of the month.
This month’s word of the month is honesty.
Honesty means being straightforward and truthful in words and actions.
We talked a little bit in previous weeks about what honesty is and about lying, cheating, and stealing.
We’ve also looked at why people do these things — why people cover up for themselves when they spill a glass of apple juice and blame it on their sister, or why people cheat in a game in order to try to get first place.
We talked about why people would plagiarize and copy somebody else’s work.
Now, let’s talk about some of those reasons why we want to be honest and some of the consequences if we’re not.
How honesty feels
We want to think about this: When I am truthful, what do I feel?
All of us have a little voice in the back of our heads. It’s our conscience. We all have that little thing back there that tells us whether or not we should do something right or wrong.
You see it in the cartoons with the little … What is it? Normally a little angel on one shoulder, a little devil on the other shoulder speaking into your ears.
Not wanting to plagiarize, I have no idea what cartoon that was. But I think I’ve seen that in lots of them.
Now, we all have that in our head.
Mom and dad say, “who spilled that apple juice?”
Your first response might be like, “It was my sister.”
But you know what? That little voice pops up in the back of your head going, “No, it wasn’t. It was you. Be honest.”
When I’m honest and truthful, I feel relaxed. I feel good. I feel that people are going to trust me and that people are going to like me more. I feel that I’ll keep more friends, and that I’ll keep my family closer.
I feel honesty is something that I wish people to see me as. I wish people to see me as an honest person that will always tell them the truth.
So the consequences of being honest can all be good consequences.
Consequences of dishonesty
Now, what if you did spill that milk? What’s the consequence of being honest about spilling the milk?
Well, you have to own up that you made a mistake, and you have to clean it up.
What’s a consequence of lying about spilling the milk?
Well, if you lie and say your sister did it, you’ve now upset your sister because she knows she didn’t do it. She knows you did it.
And Mom and Dad are eventually going to find out. People always figure that stuff out.
So now instead of just getting a paper towel and cleaning up and being in a little bit of trouble for being careless with your glass, you’re now in a whole lot of trouble for lying.
Most people would agree the negative consequence of making a small mistake — running into the wall and nicking it, spilling your juice, messing up some things, getting a C in school — those negative consequences are a lot smaller compared to the consequence of lying.
If we don’t tell the truth, if we do cheat, if we do steal, we wind up with a consequence of not respecting ourselves.
We wind up with a consequence of not actually feeling good.
Does it really feel good to just order a first place trophy on Amazon? Or does it feel good to have a first place trophy you won?
That sort of honesty within ourselves is what makes us feel good. The reason we’re proud of something is because we actually accomplished it.
If we lie and we didn’t earn it, we’re then not actually proud of those accomplishments.
The value of your good name
If we’re not honest with others, then they’re not going to believe us in the future.
I was told once that all the money in the world is not worth your good name.
If somebody steals millions of dollars, they can’t take that money and buy back their good name. They’re still always a thief.
So we want to make sure we understand those consequences. Who and what we are is worth more than anything in the world.
We want to make sure that we keep that honesty and integrity, and we want to make sure that’s how we see ourselves and how others see us.
What to do when you make a mistake
Let’s talk a little bit about what we should do when we do make that mistake. What do we do when we do make that mistake?
First, we want to apologize.
Now, apologies are not just little things. You want to be honest and truthful in your apology.
Have you ever received an un-honest apology? Yeah. Yeah you have: “I’m sorry.” “No, you’re not. I can tell in your voice. You don’t actually care. You’re not actually sorry.”
So when you make a mistake, you make that apology — and you want to make sure it comes out as honest.
Say what you did. “I’m sorry for spilling the milk.”
Take responsibility for it. Offer to fix it. “Let me go get a paper towel and clean it up.”
So you apologize. “I’m sorry.” For what? Say exactly what it is you did. Offer to make it better in any kind of way. That’s how you can offer yourself up an honest apology.
Remember, honesty is not just something we say, honesty is something that’s part of who we are, it’s part of what we do, and it’s part of our everyday life as long as we work hard towards it.
Thanks, and we’ll see everybody on the mat.
– Master Helsdon