In my quest for learning, I have been reflecting upon the human choice of lying (or deceit) versus telling the truth. It is a presenting concern at the root of why many people (all ages) seek counseling. All kinds of instances of it are present in our media daily. Lying can take such a big toll on personal and professional relationships. When their is a pattern of lying, this can be especially harmful. I am aware of how when one has a pattern of this to another, they also can be lying to themselves in the process. Justification and denial, for instance, serve the ego’s purpose to protect oneself and to avoid personal responsibility for one’s actions. Our relationships deserve truth and being our word is a necessity to these in the long run.
What is lying anyway? It has the distinct characteristics of a person knowingly making false statements, being misleading or deceptive or sharing incorrect information. I think most of us know that telling the truth has better outcomes. The opposite seems so rife with negative circumstances. Through this process of exploration, I decided to take a closer look at the drawbacks of lying and I came up with this list of 10.
1) Lying can have the goal to protect one’s ego and it is not necessary. Any conflict, fears or challenges could be worked through with clear, honest communication and the truth. I surmise this is the case most often.
2) A pattern of lying can leave a non-integrous impression. Being seen as a “liar” has no positive connotations to it.
3) It seems like so much work to lie, especially when one has to rememeber what they said earlier and there is potential to contradict themselves later.
4) Deceit entails omitting the truth, trickery often and shows a lack of value or compassion for the other.
5) It seems a little fear based to lie and it is very self focused (avoiding ones own discomfort) when making this choice. The feelings that come with lying are definitely on the negative end of the spectrum (e.g., guilt, shame, hurt, anger, avoidance, etc.) both in the telling and with being caught.
6) Once caught in a lie, there is the “high road response,” personal responsibility and humble sorrow. Or the “low road response,” justification, more lying, denial or blaming someone or something besides themselves. It can be harder to forgive quickly the person that chooses the low road.
7) The aftermath of a lie can be hurtful, creating mistrust, a sense of betrayal, pain, etc.
8) A lie and especially deceit can give the messages to the other person(s) of worth or a lack of compassion or understanding.
9) How can one trust someone who lies in general and especially multiple times? It may take work and humble honesty to make up after this.
10) Why lie? The drawbacks are so counter-productive to relationships and the sense of trust necessary.
With all of this said, it seems that there is less courage and potential self growth when vering from the truth.
To be fair though, let’s examine the drawbacks of telling the truth.
1) Someone might get hurt or there could be conflict.
2) Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth or can’t hear it.
3) There can be ill effects (big and small) from telling the truth.
4) . . . . . . . I could not think of anything else.
Can you think of other drawbacks with the truth? Truth can be hard and life is not always easy when choosing it. That old saying, “The Truth will set you free,” has some merit. Holding lies or secrets can be painful no matter how we look at it. And let’s face it, we are all human. We all make mistakes. It behooves us to remember compassion and forgiveness, amidst this. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, nor accepting another’s actions. It also does not necessarily mean that one stays in a relationship where a destructive pattern of lying continues. Regardless of the outcome, lying has on a relationship, working towards forgiveness assists the person betrayed to move on. It is the way out of any pain caused for both parties.
For the person that has lied, there is a potential to learn from the situation or do it better the next time that they have a similar circumstance. Being humble and taking responsibility serves any relationship. Learning from our mistakes sometimes can be our greatest gifts towards our own self growth. There are lots of reasons that a person chooses to lie. Learning the root of these in order to not repeat this seems important.
With all of this said, the plethora of benefits of being honest outweigh the choice to be dishonest. I know that it feels better to walk through the world with truth and honesty both for oneself and those that surround us. There seems to be more courage, love, integrity, respect and trust (thus stronger relationship bonds) that comes with a pattern of compassionate truth versus the opposite drawbacks of lying. For me, this means only that the truth does prevail!
What do you think?