In certain situations it seems much easier to lie than to tell the truth. We don’t want to call it a lie. We want to pass it off as a fib or a stretch of the truth. It makes us feel better to use those terms rather than to consider ourselves a liar. LIAR is such a strong word. It reaches beyond the act of lying, to the definition of ones character. Lying is associated with thievery and cheating. These too, are things that most people would not choose to be, or to be considered if given the option.
So if you don’t tell the truth, and it isn’t a lie, then what is it? A secret? Aha! Doesn’t that sound better? I didn’t lie, I just kept a secret, right? There are some things that we want to keep close to the vest because of how it may be perceived. It’s ok to keep the secret that I’m 35, even though I’ve turned 35 for the last five years. It’s the small things that we write off as unimportant because we consider it unworthy of being directly expressed.
The fact of the matter is, every secret is the truth. The details we omit from the story are a part of the whole truth. So why then, would we overlook these details? Is it easier to skim over them for the sake of getting by or telling a story more quickly?
The reason that we omit and exaggerate things is based in fear. Our inner fear tells us that if we don’t alter the truth some, then it won’t be accepted, or WE won’t be accepted. Everyone wants people to like them. People may find you more desirable if you’re a 35 year old who looks much younger. You probably won’t get in much trouble at work if you say that you worked through lunch, even though you took three fifteen minute breaks during the day.
- Attack fear by standing strong in the truth
- Don’t assume the worst about the outcome of truth telling
- Accept the truth within yourself, so others can accept the truth from you
In order to allay your fears of telling the whole truth, you must confront it head on. It doesn’t help anyone to live a lie (even if it’s a small one). The trepidation that it causes will bind you and make it easier for you to continue the habit of being slightly dishonest. You will come to defend the type of behavior you probably would resent in someone else.
The fear of the truth will also make you think that something bad will come of you being honest. Sometimes complete honestly may cause some agitation in a situation, but a small riff at present is probably better than a major calamity in the future.
The more comfortable you make yourself with staying honest and telling the whole truth, the more respectable you become to others. People make strong judgments and will file you in the ‘once-a-liar-always-a-liar’ category over something that might have been easier to be honest about. Sometimes you will be the bearer of bad news, or the messenger that others want to kill, but in the long run you come out as the victor when people know they can count on you to not keep the truth a secret.