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Honesty

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
— Virginia Woolf

Honesty is speaking the truth, but more broadly, it is presenting oneself in a genuine and sincere way, being without pretense, taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions. This sometimes involves the courage to exercise one’s will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, either external or internal. Honesty is a complex, rich human strength. While it involves accurately presenting information that can be verified - statements that are either true or false - it goes far beyond that. It is the defining character strength of those who make authentic statements. Honest people are consistently true to themselves and publicly represent their internal state, intentions, and commitments. Because honesty is a corrective virtue (protects us against errors in judgment), it shows up best in situations where the decision must be made between an easy thing and a right thing to do. Honesty is universally valued, but especially valued in close relationships. The complexity of this character strength is often revealed when we consider the multiple roles we play in society and how difficult it is to consistently stick to one’s values. Honesty is more likely to be found among adults than adolescents. That said, very few people are completely honest all of the time - to others or even to themselves.