"To thine own self be true." Yes, honesty starts with myself. (Incidentally, I have wondered if the word order of Step 5 is back to front. How do I admit to God what I have not first admitted to myself?)
I used to hold on to a very narrow definition of "dishonesty." It worked really well for me before working the Steps of the programme and while I was still acting out. Basically as long as the words that came out of my mouth weren't false in and of themselves, I hadn't told an outright lie, so I had not been dishonest. By that measure I was a very honest man.
But through working the Steps under the direction of a sponsor, I had to face up to a much more accurate definition of dishonesty. And this had a significant impact on how I did the Step 4 inventories. This is what I now use as the measure, and it leaves me very little room for denial.
1) telling a lie,
2) purposely omitting parts of the truth,
3) knowing of a lie but remaining silent or agreeing with it,
4) lies to ourselves – rationalization, justification, delusion, illusion
Rationalization: a self-satisfying but incorrect motive or reason
Justification: making excuses for why a wrong was done
Delusion: bad thinking
Illusion: imaginary thinking
With that as the standard, I was no longer such an honest person! The evidence seemed clear that I was very good at being a liar, since I had plenty of people convinced I was telling the truth, including that I had convinced myself!
One "blatant" example of how my denial "allowed" me to be dishonest. Whenever I'd get the overwhelming urge to go on the "hunt" for something to act out with, I'd think of some "legitimate reason" to tell my wife about why I was going out. And of course I would come home with whatever I had claimed as my reason. (I may be a liar, but I'm not so stupid as to not cover my tracks!) Deception and "half truths". Those were lies too.
That's another really great gift that sobriety brings with it. I no longer have to lie to cover my addiction. I am grateful for the freedom that surrendering to God and this programme brings.