This theme emerged from several accounts, in which life-changing experiences (e.g., divorces, grievance cases at work, and stress at work) initiated a greater honesty about the participants’ own emotions.3 Like courage, it should be borne in mind that this sense of honesty is intimately linked to the outcomes individuals experience, as highlighted later. For instance, Andrew appreciated that — following his divorce and a grievance case at work — that the important
thing is recognizing, has something, has anything changed ... I think maybe what’s
changed from all those circumstances is the sense of ... being more honest.
A similar storyline surfaced in Wayne’s account, who told of his hospitalization some time ago, which was for him a life-threatening experience. It turned out, however, that it was a condition that could be cured with minor surgery. Yet, his angst made him become “like a child ... crying every time somebody came to see” him at his hospital bed. While previously he thought of himself as “strong,” this situation made him realize that he was “not as strong as [he] thought [he] were,” and that he “stopped pretending” that he is “very strong,” which brought the “honest person” out of him. Intriguingly, like several other participants in this study, he felt grateful for that life-changing experience, to the extent that he felt grateful for it. In all cases, reflections on the pain-instilling experiences over time were essential in leading to that sense of honesty with which they can now deal with, or relate to, emotional experiences in more adaptive ways.