I had lunch yesterday with an old friend.

We caught up on each other’s lives, discussed families and relationships, and reflected on our personal journeys. Especially enjoyed sharing our perspectives on living with intention — and the importance of awareness, integrity, and authenticity. I don’t actually recall who made the comment, nor why it finally resonated with me, but the phrase ‘to be honest with you’ prompted me to further contemplate the significance of the words we use — as well as their meanings.

On the surface it seemed to be yet another innocuous expression that’s used without much thought — or at least on my part. But after giving it more consideration, I realized how prevalent it’s use has become, and how it appears to have infiltrated even our most casual conversations.

To be honest is often defined as being truthful and factual, or used to describe one’s character such as being genuine, or real — but it’s also used to describe one’s behavior or intent — such as being sincere. Although some may use ‘to be honest’ on purpose to convey sincerity and to establish trust, for me it now gives me pause as I wonder how genuine someone is being when they feel the need to state it.

Am I over-thinking this? Being too particular, or far too critical? But shouldn’t we be able to be confident that our friends and family are being honest, or that they’re able to trust us? Shouldn’t we be able to trust that others will find us credible without having to state that we’re being honest? Perhaps it’s the increased noise in social media about fake news that has people feeling that they need to convince others of their integrity. Surely honesty — or people’s willingness to trust each other — hasn’t been completely eroded.

Regardless, our conversation — and my subsequent reflection — reminded me of the importance of being honest with myself. Being truthful about my values, intentions, and actions — and whether or not my behavior is in alignment — and truthful in how I show up to others.

To be honest with you…

Starts with me.

“Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise”— Sigmund Freud