The principle of honesty and how it makes everything possible
Honesty is the first step to anywhere.
If you are a person in recovery, you are likely aware of the first, and arguably most important, principle of recovery — the one that makes all the others possible. You may not be an expert on the 12-steps, but you know the principle of the very first one is honesty.
If you are not a person in recovery or one who has chosen a step-less path, you probably know about honesty, too. I mean, we have heard it our whole lives.
Honesty is the best policy.
If you want to be trusted, be honest.
The truth will set you free.
Those who cannot trust should not be trusted.
The list goes on.
We spend our whole lives seeking truth, in one form or another. We seek truth in our religions, our cultures, our traditions, our belief systems, and our relationships.
That’s all we want, in the end — really.
Something we can know beyond that shadow of a doubt. Something true under all conditions. Something we can count on until the end of time, every day, all day.
Many spend as much energy hating deceit as we do seeking truth. You only have to glance at social media to see that. Someone is always on about their hatred for untruth or their utter disdain for so-called fake people.
Being real, honest and true is so trendy that it even scored its own emoji. 💯
It is, therefore, safe to say that not one of us is in the dark about the importance of this principle. So regardless of whether you are a 12-stepper or not, the principle of step one is relevant in your life. The principle of honesty.
I wouldn’t be a good 12-stepper if I compared the importance of the steps or discounted the value of any of them. And trust me, I have as much respect for the 12 steps as I do for my dear wise granny or Martin Luther King Jr. But if I had to choose one step as the most important, I would not have to think twice. It would, without a doubt, always be step one — hands down.
For someone with a seasoned working knowledge of the 12 steps, it is easy to understand this. You see, the principle of step one is the only principle that is necessary for every other principle — that is to say, every other step. None of them are possible without the first — without honesty. And life is like that too. Honesty is the first step to anything.
Forgiveness can be present without faith. Willingness can live without brotherly love. Humility can survive without integrity. We can be brave without being humble, and we can be of service without courage.
There is only one principle that must be working to some degree in our lives for any others to work, and that is honesty.
Perhaps this is why Bill W. wrote that step one is the only step that can be, “practiced with absolute perfection”.
You cannot be open-minded enough to accept help if you are not honest with yourself that you need it. And you cannot ask for help if you are incapable of being honest about that with someone else.
You cannot heal your wounds if you are not honest about them being there or fix your problems if you do not admit that they exist. Without being honest, you cannot accept responsibility for your part in things, and without accepting responsibility for your part in things, you cannot change things.
Nothing lives without honesty. Not love or growth or transformation — not even everyday relationships.
Deceit and distrust ruin relationships like wildfire. They destroy whole careers and entire lives.
For those on a 12-step journey of recovery, honesty is an all-time requirement. The only other options are jails, institutions, or death. But a great reverence for this principle is not exclusive to those in recovery from addiction, trauma, or the like.
You see, these principles were not conceptualized by the 12-steps or those who created them. They were around and revered long before Alcoholics Anonymous was a glimmer in Bill Wilson’s eyes. Recovering alcoholics didn’t invent this stuff. They just wrote it down, in order.
Honesty is and has always been the first step to transforming your life, no matter who you are. And the person you must be honest with first is yourself. But it is also the first step to simple things, like making a tomato sandwich.
How can you make a tomato sandwich if you tell yourself you don’t have tomatoes?
If you wish to build better relationships, you must be honest with yourself about how you can improve your half.
If you aren’t successful in your field, you must be honest with yourself about why — and how to fix it.
If you want to learn how to play the guitar, you must make an honest commitment to practice.
If you want to be trusted by clients or bosses, you must be honest in your work ethic, and if you wish to be trusted by your partners in life, you must be honest with them.
Sure, some people appear to have worldly success despite being filled with lies and darkness. But I am not talking about Donald Trumps or kitten killers here.
I am talking about you — the type of person who would be reading my work. I am talking to you — you who is not dead inside.
If you are struggling with something or can’t find your way somewhere, take it back to the basics, and you may find your path. The first step to anywhere is honesty.
Written by Holly Kellums
image by author