Say exactly what you want without apology. This is the core practice of deep honesty. Why? First of all, to say what you want, you have to look inside yourself and discover what you want. It means you have to be conscious. Here now. Not following what you said you wanted yesterday. Not expressing what you think others may want. But what do you really want?
Expressing what you want is a big deal for your integrity. But the real core of deep honesty is the "without apology" part because apology implies you don't have a right to be what you are. But you have that right. You have an intrinsic right, a fundamental right to be what you are. It is you. You have a right to your own desires. That doesn't mean others don't have rights. But you have the right to feel what you feel, think what you think, want what you want, and say it. If you deny these rights to yourself, you cut yourself off from a deep source. You cut yourself away from your own integrity. These are rights that, when violated, produce trouble, badness, confusion, etc. Not good.
When you deny these rights to others, it shuts them down and makes them less mentally (and therefore physically) healthy. Denying these rights to yourself does the same thing.
Say what you want without apology. That is the first, and maybe the only, rule you need to follow to find your path of deep honesty. It is risky. You may be rejected. But here again, you find another source of non-integrity. The fact that you think you need the approval of others, or need to impress them uncovers one of the most important lies many of us live by. It is kind of drilled into us by parents and teachers and bullies and early lovers. Rejection is painful. We're social animals, built to react to this social rejection. But the truth is we do not need the approval of anyone.
Let me modify that. We actually we do need the approval of someone. But here's what happens. If you are honestly yourself, you will repel people who are bad for you and attract people who are good for you. So even if right now you have not a soul who approves of you — if you say what you want without apology, if you go ahead and be yourself fully — everyone in your life may disapprove, and they will repel themselves from you. But at the same time, that same quality will attract higher-quality people to you, and people who are more healthy for you to hang out with. You will get their approval, not by seeking it but by not seeking it.
Everybody in your family may reject you. Every one of your friends my turn you out. But that is the risk you need to be willing to make, because anything less will compromise your own honesty. I have been rejected by family members. I know it can be painful. But the surprising thing is that it is not only painful, it's also freeing. The people who would reject you for being honest are the people who are suppressing you right now. If you compromise your integrity to keep them from rejecting you, you have essentially rejected yourself, cut yourself off from the world, slammed a big iron door shut, cutting off the source of flow, the source of who you are, the source of your own creativity, the source of your own happiness.
So as painful as it is when someone rejects you, it will also be true that you will suddenly feel free. You are no longer clapped into prison by that person. You are no longer trimmed and edited by them. After the smoke of rejection has cleared you'll find that you are not only intact, but you're better off.
Even with someone whom you really love and who loves you the way you are, even with that person, you may encounter times when your honesty puts them off, makes them at least temporarily reject you. I would die to protect my wife, and I would gladly work to make her happy, but it is not my duty to live my life in a way she wants me to. It is not my duty to want what she wants me to want, to like what she wants me to like. And if I make that fatal mistake, my own wife can seem like an enemy of my integrity. Not by what she is doing, but by what I'm doing.
Everyone naturally wants you to be what they want you to be, at least in the immediate moment. So you will always have to deal with that pressure, even after all the suppressing people have pulled themselves away from you. So you need the hard and fast rule that you will be deeply honest no matter what the cost. And the first rule is to say what you want without apology. Keep to that one, and you will go a long way toward opening a new life for yourself. A cleaner, happier, more satisfying, more fulfilling life.
Adam Khan is the author of Self-Reliance, Translated, Slotralogy, and Principles For Personal Growth. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.