You can’t help but feel totally relaxed when you’re in the company of Rose Owen.
She doesn’t hide how she’s feeling and it’s refreshing to meet someone so open who shows you that it’s actually OK to be more vulnerable.
But it’s not always been this way for Rose, who until she knew how to be more honest, was struggling to cope.
Growing up she was holding on to dark and upsetting secrets which she felt she couldn’t share with her family.
And the stress started to take its toll on her skin.
How was her skin affected?
As a teenager Rose struggled with eczema, rosacea and dermatographia – a condition known as skin writing.
“Dermatographia is quite interesting” Rose, who is now 26, explains. “With any touch on your skin it raises.
“I could draw patterns on my skin and it would raise to the patterns but it was really painful and inflamed.
“I had crazy skin disorders. I definitely believe that I was having some level of stress causing anxiety.”
Looking back now, Rose realises that feeling stressed and anxious was the trigger.
“When I think back to just before university, I wasn’t being honest with my friends around me – I wasn’t telling them what I was going through.
“I was always trying to appear to be calm thinking it was a way to get people to like me.
“I wasn’t really disclosing how I was feeling; definitely on some sort of autopilot to just fit in.”
Although she tried medications, nothing ever seemed to help.
But then her life changed when she dealt with the upsetting secrets…
Rose first came across honesty workshops while abroad at a summer school in Greece as a child.
At the age of 19 she went to her first class – and admits she lied all the way through the workshop.
“I was completely overwhelmed,” she says. “I spent most of the time crying and shaking and didn’t speak very much at all.
“I was definitely withholding what was going on for me, pretending to be okay when obviously I wasn’t.
“It took the next two workshops until I started to speak up a little bit more.”
Rose was struggling to cope with a traumatic experience in her life.
“I realised pretty early on that I had experienced sexual abuse as a child and I was having memories come back to me,” she explains.
“My mum would also tell me secrets, quite big things to carry as a teen.”
How did her life change?
Through the workshops she realised it would help if she talked to someone.
She committed to doing completion talks, a concept encouraging honest conversations with people you have unfinished business with from your past.
“I went back and talked to key people in my family and had really pretty terrifying honest conversations,” she said.
“There was a period of really upsetting news coming out, us all grieving, expressing that anger, learning how to deal with that together.
“But there was also committing and making the choice to move past it and agreeing to continue to have honest conversations.
“And this is when big shifts started to happen in me and very shortly after that, my skin disorders cleared up.
“I don’t want to say it’s a magic thing to people but that was certainly my experience.
“There was definitely some physiological shift with how I was holding myself, and how I was holding my stress.”
Rose, who studied medical science at university, started learning as much as she could about the Radical Honesty movement.
It was launched by Brad Blanton, an American psychotherapist who has written extensively on the subject.
The movement is all about sharing honestly with people what you are noticing and not pretending to others to be a certain way.
Lying, he believes, is the primary cause of suffering.
But Rose, who grew up in Findhorn in Moray, is quick to point out that there’s nothing for people to fear by being more honest in their lives.
It’s more about acceptance and acknowledging how you really feel about all the things going on in your life.
You might also be less afraid of having uncomfortable conversations.
And there’s nothing judgmental about it.
You start to learn that your judgments are just your own interpretation of certain events in your life, little stories, rather than the reality of a situation.
It’s helped Rose feel more at ease with life – and more connected with her family and her partner too.
“I’ve become more relaxed with other people thinking something of me,” she explains.
“They’re allowed to think that and I can be okay with whatever they think of me.
“There’s definitely some level of not trying to control so much.”
How to be honest: How has it helped Rose become a better parent?
But it’s her daughter Lily, who is nearly three-years-old who’s her biggest inspiration.
“I really admire her for her ability to get angry, raise hell then get over it,” she says.
“And also grieve, or feel joy, an instant expression of emotion without too many filters going on such as thinking whether it’s appropriate or will I be accepted if I do this.”
Rose now holds monthly meet-ups at her Wee Honesty Shed in Fittie, teaching others how being more honest and open can help them live better lives.
Practical tools can help people calm down and regulate their nervous system when they’re struggling with their emotions and has also helped her be a better parent.
“It’s really helped me be a parent, be more patient with my daughter when she’s having big emotional responses and allowing her to have those spaces.
“If I feel the urge to make her quiet that’s coming from me; that’s me feeling uncomfortable and does not really benefit her.”
Rose is cohosting her next weekend Radical Honesty workshop in Aberdeen on 3-5 of March this year.
She also holds monthly meetings in her Wee Honesty Shed.
More information can be found on the Radical Honesty Aberdeen Facebook site.