Honesty is one of the hardest topics to cover. Although there are thousands of books and articles out there teaching you how to be dishonest, very few actually cover how to be honest in a practical way.

People who tend to be more dishonest than others typically don’t have concrete personal values and boundaries. Dishonesty comes from seeking to take things from others rather than to give or to genuinely connect with people.

Once you have learned to recognize the dishonesty in yourself and know when to use it constructively, you will start to see the beliefs and intentions within yourself that caused it in the first place.

Don’t blame yourself or who raised you. Those beliefs were passed down through the generations subconsciously. However, now that you are consciously aware of it, you can work to undo those beliefs and build new, honest ones.

1. Establish your values concretely

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Prioritize and reevaluate them as often as necessary. This will allow you to build strong personal boundaries (such as an honor code) that you won’t let others, and most importantly yourself, violate. These values give you a sense of self-worth and achievement at the end of the day. Honoring them will give you something larger to desire rather than petty things that people are typically dishonest for.

2. Live more consciously and responsibly

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We tend to become less and less honest as we become exhausted, distracted, or inundated with information. When we learn to live consciously, we are less likely to be swayed by the twists and turns of life. Regularly check your inner and outer congruence. Pay more attention to the present. Meditate. You will find it easier to stay true to your creed.

3. Establish a sense of purpose in as many things you do as possible

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A sense of purpose will give a counter-balancing rationale on why you should act honestly. It’s this sense of purpose that you should be true to, rather than random impulsive desires that fill your days. Your personal integrity is tied to how much you are serving your sense of purpose. Conversely, you will recognize how much are you doing a disservice to this purpose when you don’t act honestly. 

4. Positively reinforce your personal integrity by self-validating the honest acts you perform

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And do this regardless of the results or recognition you derived from it. Negatively disassociate yourself from any dishonest act by vowing to do better next time. Be careful not to shame yourself, which brings on the “What the Hell” effect (once a dishonest act is committed the honest self-image is lowered, other dishonest acts tend to follow). Just simply promise to do better should the situation arises again.

5. Take feedback from others

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You take feedback so that you can tweak and fine tune how you communicate your intentions to others. Most of us fail at conveying exactly what we want because we depend too much on words and we don’t know how to calibrate our style according to others.

Use people’s radar for insincerity as a mirror to judge your actions. Since we are all more adept at sensing dishonesty in others than in ourselves, we must use others’ reactions to better effect.

When you take feedback however, you must take care not to stray from your original intention, whatever it may be. Feedback represents an opportunity to improve, not as a reflection of your self-worth. Most people will be projecting and rationalizing just as you are. Take deep feedback from the people you trust, since their intentions align with your attempt to be more honest.

6. Seek and cherish each “moment of truth” that all of us eventually encounter in life

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We all must testify in front of others at some point. Testify, a word coming from the Greek origin of holding your own testicles as tokens of truth which can be taken away if you are proven to be lying, has strong implications to your honesty.

We all experience rejection and pain at some point in life. However, these moments shouldn’t be just avoided, but rather sought out. In these moments, we can only experience truth. In these moments, we will learn the most about ourselves down to the core.

Read More: The Wisdom Of Mao Tse Tung