I used to think I was an honest person.
I had a reality check when I found two points of dishonesty that were a regular part of my life. One: I’d lie to cover up things that embarrassed me, and two: I’d lie to myself. I’ve realized (with help) that if I can’t be honest to myself, I’m not a trustworthy person. And if I can’t trust myself, that is a serious blow to the self-esteem.
Leadership guru Orrin Woodward said that if you set your alarm to get up at six, but snooze twice and get up at 6:18, that is a lack of integrity. You said you’d get up at six and you didn’t. Sure, no one else cares, but you know, and this will erode your self-confidence. I guess if I can’t discipline myself to get up when I say I will, I don’t have much discipline. Ouch.
If you say “this evening I’m going to get this project done” but watch TV instead, you’ve broken a promise to yourself. If you say you won’t spend money on eating out, but you do, you’ve broken a promise to yourself. After a while, when you say you’re going to do something, doesn’t your inner voice say “yeah right”?
Think about someone you know who always tells you their plans, but never carries them out. Don’t you just nod and smile and think yeah, whatever?
But doing what you say you’re going to do builds confidence. My small victory in this area has been delaying gratification in buying clothes. I don’t deny myself the pleasure of buying new clothes. Instead, I set a goal, which, if I accomplish it, ‘unlocks’ a portion of spending money. Over the last months I’ve raised the goal, and I have do to a lot of work to unlock just $30 of money toward my wardrobe. But when I buy the clothes, there’s no need to feel guilty. I’ve earned them.
It definitely wasn’t always like that. My finances are one area where I’ve been very dishonest with myself.
Some would rather be free to do what they like, and say what they like. But I suspect true freedom is the opposite. To be able to trust one’s self, and control one’s self is to be free. No human can reach complete mastery, of course, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing our best and leaving the rest to God’s grace. To thine own self be trustworthy.