I met someone recently. A learned expert in psychology who works at a university. It was a rare meeting and I had only a few moments to learn something important I was curious about. I asked them, what is at the foundation of human relationships? They took time to think on this and after about a minute the response was complete and concise. The reply was that you have to be honest with yourself before you can have trust with others. It was brilliantly stated and I believe the most accurate description I have heard.
In the Book of Genesis, Adam has two problems rather than the one we often think about. The first problem is he broke a rule. The second problem is worse than the first. It is when he tries to cover it up. He sins unto himself before he ever sins against God. He deceives himself then it just echoes out from there, continuously. The point is, the most ancient observers of human behavior understood the role of honesty and self-deception at the root of human relations.
Problems people may have with each other can often involve self-deception. The masks we put in front of our true selves. Masks that serve the purpose of allowing us to hide from who we really are that we either don’t know about or are too ashamed to present. Others instinctively know they are dealing with a mask and that can breed resentments and delay the conduct of genuinely satisfying encounters among people. Unfortunately, it can take some people from birth until retirement age to figure it out. Lucky are those among us willingly able to exist in vulnerability to risk real connection with others.
Getting to the root of things today may not solve today’s deficiencies but it can become an investment for the future. The ability to finally move past the roadblocks to healthy relationships. Institutions we may affiliate with may discourage such discourse. Other things ultimately become more important than the regard among people. Nevertheless, root causes can be discovered accidentally or systematically.
To thine own self, be true. Know yourself. Ask yourself why you do what you do and why you feel what you feel until you know you’ve reached the true answer. Then you have to decide if what you learn really works for you. If not, you may have to take actions to effect change in yourself.