It’s so much easier to just lie sometimes. It’s even beneficial at times – as if you’d ever admit to the police officer that you were intentionally speeding.
Some lies keep the peace; telling your girlfriend that she looks fat in her new dress or that you don’t like someone’s cooking isn’t going to win you friends anytime soon.
We tell people that we’re feeling great even when we aren’t. We claim to be rich when we’re poor and say we have to work early when really we just don’t want to stay at the party. I also highly doubt that you drank fifty drinks last night or that you’re working hard all day.
White lies to help us get through the day; I’m late because of traffic, my phone died, I’m working hard, I didn’t get your email, of course I’ll work here forever and so on.
Seemingly innocuous stories that everyone knows you’re telling (and were preventable) but excuse them only because one day, may have to use themselves.
It’s ok though. Some lies are necessary. Some lies instil hope to a dying patient, belief in ones lack of abilities and validation to someone seeking approval.
But where do we draw the line? When do lies go from being ‘supportive’ to ‘self-serving’?
‘Fleshing out’ your resume? Embellishing a credit application? Pretending you didn’t hear/see something? Withholding information? Using them to take advantage of others?
All of these circumstances are morally questionable and we make discretionary decisions at the time based on content, relationship, context and of course, consequence.
If we think the consequence is low, we’re more likely to lie. If we believe the consequence is high, less of us are likely to lie. It’s one thing to lie to a stranger about speeding; quite another to the judge.
So what about the lies we tell to ourselves?
Not the ones we tell to other people but the deep and self-preserving lies we keep inside. The lies we tell to maintain status quo, feed an insecurity or avoid personal responsibility. The ones we lose sleep over.
These differ from the white lies because now these are ones we tell only to fool ourselves in the hope of fooling others. Unfortunately they often catch up with you and greatly impact you and the ones you love the most.
“It’s not technically cheating” as you kissed a random on holiday with your wife at home.
“I’m a good friend” just after you backstabbed and made fun of one.
“I’m true to myself” just as you made some decisions that forced you to ignore your morals and conscience.
“I deserve this” when you’re trying to justify a purchasing decision whilst increasing your debt.
“I’m right” when there’s sufficient evidence to suggest otherwise.
“I’m sorry” when you don’t need to be.
“I’m not good enough” when you are rejected or fail.
“I’m happy and want this” as you unexplainably burst into tears at the thought of it.
“I’m different and so should keep quiet” as you feel a piece of you fighting to get out.
Sometimes it takes a lifetime to realise that you were lying to yourself. Some people never figure it out but just feel a dull sense of sadness their whole lives. They can’t put their finger on it, but somewhere along the line they told the lie so many times to themselves that they genuinely believed it.
Having the courage to say how you feel, to be openly honest about who you are and walk a path that involves rejecting things that validate your lies, is not easy. I can vouch for that.
Most choose a path of genuine dread, keep terrible secrets, participate in breaches of trust, strip down who they are to please someone else and/or just lack the courage to stand up for what they believe in because it’s easier and doesn’t attract criticism.
Besides, rising above is famous for removing the comfort zone and exposing you to opinion, rejection and judgement. But what if that was positive opinion and judgement? Once upon a time Steve Jobs was seen as a loony with a minority computer company; today he’s heralded as “the greatest innovator of our time”. I’m glad he rose above dogma.
To find your purpose, your happiness, yourself – whatever it might be in your life, you have to authentically believe in who you are. Only then will you attract people, opportunities and experiences that are truly congruent with who you are.
Sure you will doubt yourself at times but when push comes to shove, you must be able to hold your shoulders back and know you remained true to who you are to the end – even if it’s not popular or logical. You must resist temptation to lie to yourself to feed a short term gratification because it often just pleases others while you short change yourself.
Being true to who you are and refusing to lie about who you are to yourself is the first step to fulfilment. It’s part of being ‘present.’ Yes, it will make you wince, cry and despair at times; your heart and head in a raging battle. But I promise you that it gets easier, more natural and suddenly you’ll wake up one day wondering how you lived ‘the other way’.
Remember that no-one else wants the very best for you like you do so you must be prepared to do the most dirty work of all – telling yourself the truth.
You must treat yourself with honesty, integrity and strong resolve; you’re of more value to the world when you are truthful and respectful of your own.