Learn why you should never lie. It does more harm to you than you think.
Lying is a choice to not cooperate with others. I have decided to stop lying. Let me give you some reasons why you should too.
Doesn’t it feel horrible to lie? Yes, it does, it haunts us for the rest of our lives sometimes.
When we lie, we refuse to give someone a clear picture of reality. When we offer false encouragement, we do the same. When we try to prevent our loved ones from experiencing disappointment or embarrassment, we are putting a band-aid on the issue. Down the line, our lies eventually surface and lead to more harm than if we had just been honest.
Do you want to be regarded as trustworthy? Do you want to be regarded as someone who offers unbiased feedback? Do you want people to trust your word? I want that. I want people to take me seriously. I do not want to be the boy who cried wolf.
When we lie, we program others to ignore our word. We give people bad expectations about ourselves. “Jacques won’t show up. Jacques won’t fulfill his commitment. Jacques is manipulating me.” I never want people to gossip like this about me. So, I pledge to stop lying.
My pledge was an outcome of reading an essay, Lying by Sam Harris. Here are my takeaways and how I am applying them to my life.
- Truthfulness is different from fact-fulness. Truthfulness is a trait characterized by the intent to communicate with honesty. To be truthful is to communicate your reality — what you know and feel. To be factful is to communicate an objective reality determined by science.
- Truthfulness is a virtue. It’s a sign that you want to invest in a relationship. It’s a sign of respect: This person deserves to know my truth.
- When you lie, it actually increases your deprecation of others. It conditions you to dehumanize others; ‘they don’t deserve the truth.’ When you lie, you are exercising the wrong muscle — cynicism.
- When you lie to another human, you categorize them differently than how you categorize yourself. You deserve the truth but others don’t.
Omission and Comission
- There are two forms of lying. White lies, and blatant lies. White lies are when you knowingly exclude or omit information. Ex: False encouragement. When we make white lies, we undermine our friends’ clarity of reality. We protect their inaccurate picture of reality. We protect them from discomfort.
- Lying by omission has an energy problem. It takes physical energy to step up and take the responsibility to communicate honestly with others. In some cases, it will just not be worth the potential conflict. Imagine telling people what you actually think about them all the time. That would be exhausting.
- Avoiding blatant lies is a lot easier. These are lies that are committed. This is deception — when you knowingly give someone inaccurate information. These lies are active. Whereas, white lies are passive.
My application: I avoid lying by omission in relationships that really matter to me, and in high-stakes situations. I do not lie by commission.
- It takes effort to track your lies. There is a heaviness to reflecting on the past so that your actions are aligned with your lies. To keep your lies from being discovered, mental accounting is required. Mental accounting drives you out of authenticity — you always have to be thinking about whether your actions will reveal your lies.
- Summary: Liars must keep track of their past so that they are not found out in the future.
Those are the main ideas from the essay. In one sentence, lying is a refusal to cooperate with others; a recoil from a relationship.
Moving forward, I intend to adopt the following behaviour changes.
— Do not lie to others in front of others.
— Do not lie by commission.
— Do not falsely encourage others when you think it’s a horrible choice.
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