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TWO MORE couples fit into the fantastic Couples retreat by a lake in Finland 7-13 August!
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How to avoid Radical Honesty traps?

You might wonder: What the heck are Radical Honesty traps?

I see them as ways of practicing Radical Honesty—or your version of Radical Honesty—that are destructive or do not bring any of the results we believe you can get from being radically honest.

I see such traps arising in:

1. Improving relationships, especially with people close to you.

We do this, for example, by sharing honestly whatever is alive in you from moment to moment while, at the same time, listening and being willing to witness others.

The trap: Believing that honest sharing means blurting out hurtful shit and leaving the situation.

If you say whatever random stuff comes to your mind without the purpose of connecting, don’t be surprised if you end up creating a mess for yourself.

The trap: Not sharing one’s motivation.

I find one’s motivation to be very important. I judge that the experience is much different when sharing difficult things that the other party makes themselves angry or sad about when also express honestly your fear and insecurities of the sharing (if they are alive in you). For example: “I feel nervous sharing this” or “I worry you will get angry / sad / upset / hurt hearing what I want to say and even so I don’t want to withhold this from you.”

Your willingness to remain present and maintain eye contact and listen to the other one is important. Radical Honesty is not a monologue where one person simply dumps their shit on someone else, breaks contact and then leaves.

2. Clearing stuff from the past in order to increase connection, understanding and even love.

Honest conversations or completion / clearing conversations are talks where we express what is still troubling us from our past. We speak to directly to the person with whom we have this unfinished emotional business.

The trap: Blaming or shaming the other or giving long monologues.

This is usually a very ineffective way to get over that unfinished emotional business or for establishing connections. Or even staying present as that is a very heady activity rather than rooted in the bodily sensations and presence.

The trap: Using Radical Honesty language in ways that are dogmatic or difficult for the other party to understand.

The other person might not understand you or might feel like you’re trying to talk down to them. If you pressure the other party to use a particular language or phrasing, they will likely feel that they don’t have space to express themselves freely.

The trap: Trying to coach your friend, family member or lover while trying to connect with them.

I judge that this is oftentimes a bad idea.

Most of us tend to be resistant to coaching in such situations (especially if we didn’t give the other permission to do so). The result: that person will probably be less open to trying Radical Honesty themselves.

Besides, nobody wants a coach in their bedroom or living room (unless that’s your special kink!).

The trap: Trying to know the practice better than the other.

Joining a workshop or two doesn’t automatically mean you know shit or are good at connecting. The main thing is to stay present and be willing to be honest and vulnerable.

3. Letting go of playing “right and wrong games” and instead experiencing whatever is happening moment to moment in us, around us and in our thoughts.

In Radical Honesty, we aren’t so interested in right and wrong which are absolute and universal.

The trap: Being attached to you being right or trying to make the other person wrong.

This can be used as a weapon that creates more separation than connection. 

When we try to push on others our ideals or beliefs—no matter how noble they might be—creates distance and mistrust.

The antidote is being curious and open.

Plenty of people believe there is right and wrong. And that they know what is right and wrong.

We might really dislike this.

And we might even end up being moralistic about someone else being moralistic.

Noticing our experience and what is happening in our body can be more useful at times. For some of us, though, noticing what is happening in our body moment to moment can be challenging.

To be able to do so might take a lot of practice—and willingness.

For some people, noticing bodily sensations and “being in the body” can be scary, even overwhelming, based on their earlier experiences. In such situations, compassion goes a long way rather than being teachy.

4. Experiencing more freedom in your life and creating the life you want.

I like the saying: “With freedom comes responsibility.” I see the responsibility of living according to your values when you are seeking greater freedom and self-expression. What you want is what you want.

The trap: Believing freedom means the same for everyone. Or that we can define what is right or good for the other.

Or save them from making their own mistakes and do their own learning.

So, how can you avoid some of these traps in your romantic relationship?

In my opinion, being willing to look at yourself and your patterns of reacting to your loved one is important.

Also: being more interested in getting over anger and connecting than being right, taking responsibility for your emotions and happiness, and keeping the focus on yourself rather than on the other and your attempts to change them.

And being willing to listen and notice when you are tempted to advise or interrupt and being willing to share honestly especially about difficult things.

This can be challenging!

You can also learn more with us.

Maybe the Couples One Day online workshop this Sunday 6 February is for you!

In this workshop you will practice exactly how to avoid these traps and become skillful in relating, listening and sharing with your partner.

This is what the workshop includes:

Learning to really listen and hear
This can be tricky! We think we are helpful by offering advice and many times the other person actually just wants to be heard and witnessed.

? Sharing openly from the heart
It is easy to avoid tricky, vulnerable stuff. It is easier to share when we do well and when we fail. And keeping those from our partner will hinder our relationship whereas sharing even when scared or ashamed is a very powerful way of showing trust.

? Separating facts and fiction
This is separating what they really said or did from your interpretations / imaginations / thoughts of what they meant by that wording / action. The best way to know is to ask them!

? Clearing old anger and hurt in order to get rid of old baggage and be more in the here and now in your relationship.

This is really crucial – when we clear old anger we are so much more present to ourselves and our partner. And our anger becomes about the actual moment rather than is coupled with what they did last week, two months ago or ten years ago.

? Asking for what you want in a clear way and being willing to hear “yes” or “no.”
Surprisingly (or not) many of us use hints and manipulation or wish the other to be a mind-reader rather than ask directly and clearly what we want. Of course it can be scary!

? Noticing your patterns of sabotaging your relationship and yourself.
This could be being blamey, victimy, keeping the focus on the other and their flaws, people pleasing, hiding, lying about “little things,” withholding in order to “save the other ones feelings” or sharing only superficial things.

You might also enjoy this video about practicing Radical Honesty in romantic relationships.

Have you fallen into these or some other traps while practicing Radical Honesty?

If so, will you share it with us?

As an ending: we don’t need to be perfect for others to love and like us. Imperfection is what makes us both more relatable and human.

Tuulia & Pete

P.S. I wrote this newsletter based on a request for this topic. What do you want to read about or watch a video of? Let us know!

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