It starts with a twinge of guilt, which soon becomes barely noticeable and then its a habit…I don’t want to hurt feelings. I sometimes just want to head off lengthy discussions or I just don’t want to “get into it”. So I tell a little white lie, once, then again and then all of a sudden I was lying almost every day. Not about the big stuff…I rationalize, but still, lying is energy draining, soul sapping, and integrity undermining.
I confess this and yet I still don’t consider myself a bad person. But, I do admit that in “wanting to please”’ not wanting to “make waves” and not wanting to “deal with” the (possibly imaginary) fallout from the truth I had let little white lies take priority over telling the truth. And sometimes it was just easier, or so it would have seemed.
Here is a sample of one of my typical lying days. See if any of it sounds familiar to you.
“Did you find everything you need?” Asks the check out clerk…yes I lie with 3 items still on my list, but already late for my next stop. (No harm done.)
“How do these pants look on me?” Asks a friend shopping while we’re shopping….they look good I lie, not wanting to hurt feelings…and they do look much better than the last couple of pairs, I rationalize. (Feelings spared, long standing touchy issues avoided)
“Where do you want to go for dinner?” A group of friends asks amongst ourselves…anywhere is fine, I lie, not wanting to sound picky, but knowing deep down I want some healthy choices and will have to accommodate my gluten intolerance. (Oh well, I can always eat when I get home.)
“Lets get together this weekend” suggests a well meaning friend…I’m out of town all weekend I lie, not wanting to take the time to navigate such a wide sweeping invitation. (Our relationship has been strained for a while, I don’t know what to say.)
So why doesn’t my oh-so-clever strategy for making things easier make me feel better?
Because, there is a conflict between my thoughts and my words and actions. There is even a fancy name for it: cognitive dissonance. And, when we don’t speak our truth we lose some of our power and more importantly, we lose a little bit of ourselves.
The deception really starts taking a toll because, as we often use others as a mirror for our selves, we can begin to project, or at least suspect others of the same bad habit and trust begins to decay. Trust in others and in ourselves…it’s a slippery slope.
And so, I declared to myself, in my journal this morning that I will not lie anymore. It doesn’t mean I will brandish the painful truth like a sword slaying everyone in my path. It does mean I will try to take the time and energy to give an honest thoughtful answer.
“Did you find everything you need?” No, but I will be back!
“How do these pants look on me?” I think you’re on the right track, they look the best so far. Maybe the sales clerk can make some suggestions to get the best fit.
“Where do you want to go for dinner?” Let’s go to Good Earth or someplace similar that is very open about ingredients and preparations.
“Lets get together some time this weekend.” I would love to schedule some time to catch up, and I will have some free time after the holidays to meet for coffee.
Nothing earth shattering, but rather, conflict calming, integrity building and with time and practice, positively reinforcing. I feel better already.