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Today we’re going to be addressing a topic that I’ve kind of neglected a little bit because I thought it was obvious, but maybe it’s not. And that topic is why you need to stop lying so much.
Now, before you go about telling me (or yourself) that you don’t lie very often, let me just recap what lying is:
Lying is expressing yourself in any way that does not represent the truth as you know it.
Basically, if someone could see inside your head while you’re expressing yourself, and it looks different to what you’re saying, then you’re lying.
Pretending, white lies, making things up, false interest, fictional stories, exaggeration, false politeness – lying is anything where what you know is not what’s being represented by the way you express yourself. This includes hiding things: hiding what you think, hiding what you feel, hiding your beliefs, hiding your opinions, hiding what you did – especially when you know that you’re uncomfortable with that information being released (that’s why you hide it).
You know it when you’re being dishonest.
So if you’re telling me you don’t at least occasionally do these things, then that’s just another lie, because you do – we all do.
Today we’re going to talk about why you need to cut back on dishonesty as much as you possibly can. Unfortunately, most people think it’s okay to lie, sometimes they call it “white lies,” or they consider it to be a necessary untruth. People think they need to sometimes hold back the truth or pretend to be something they’re not because it’s just the “right” thing to do.
Today, I’m going to talk about why lying is absolutely not the right thing to do, and why your suffering comes directly from dishonest behavior. In order to do that, I’m going to list all the things I could possibly think of as to how lying in any way – big or small – harms your life and the lives of others directly.
1) People can’t trust you
Eventually, when it comes to lying, you’re going to get found out, even if it’s something as small as pretending you were sick so that you could stay home from the party when actually you just didn’t want to go.
When people find out that you’re being false, they’ll know that you have the capability to lie, and that will automatically reduce their trust in you forever onwards. Once you are a liar in someone’s mind, it’s very hard to undo that.
Your ability to connect, build relationships, and create successful partnerships with people is going to be severely limited by dishonesty when you get caught out – as you inevitably will.
2) Escalation of lies
Even when a lie starts small, it can create what I call a lie world. Each lie is going to need more lies to maintain it. Every time it’s challenged, you’re going to need to create other lies to back up the original lie.
This can easily escalate to the point where you’re living a lie; where your whole personality is bullshit, where your job and lifestyle don’t match who you really are – all because of one little lie you told at the beginning that you’ve been trying to maintain.
For example, the lie that you enjoy listening to your friend’s band when you really don’t. Now you’re stuck excusing yourself from invites to their gigs, one lie after another, and even creating other events just to avoid the invitations. Before long, your entire social life is bullshit and you’ve become accustomed to deceiving your friends without a qualm.
3) Lying supports manipulation
In order to manipulate someone, there needs to be a secret. Manipulation can’t survive in a totally honest world.
For me to be able to manipulate you, you must want to hide something and I need to know what that is. Once I know what it is, I can manipulate you (e.g. if you’re afraid of violence but don’t want people to know, I can intimidate you physically to get what I want because I know you’ll back down to pretend you’re unaffected).
Every time you hide something, you support somebody else’s ability to manipulate you and you encourage them to manipulate other people.
Whenever you lie, you usually also become a hypocrite, because you don’t like being lied to.
5) You end up a coward
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”
Most lying is an act of cowardice. We lie because we’re afraid of telling the truth.
So if you’re repeatedly lying, then you’re repeatedly practicing being a coward, which means you will become one. Every lie contributes to your future as a coward, rather than becoming a courageous leader.
6) Chronic anxiety
Being honest means never having to remember anything, I think Carl Sagan said that. Lying, on the other hand, means anxiety and worry all the time.
You’re constantly worried about being found out. You’ve even forgotten the lies you’ve told, and you’re worried that they’ll somehow be called out or you’ll accidentally contradict your previous stories, and you feel like you always need to be prepared to correct yourself.
If you want to live a carefree lifestyle, it has to be an honest one. Because one built on lies is going to have you constantly hypersensitive and anxious about being caught.
7) You make people fragile
Some of you are proud of your lies because you “protect other people’s feelings” with them…
You’re actually making them more fragile.
When you don’t allow someone to be exposed to the truth, especially from someone compassionate like yourself, you’re setting them up to be blindsided by it when real life hits them. If, for example, you raise a child on a bunch of lies, when that child enters the real world it is going to fucking destroy them, like when a kid gets humiliated by his peers for believing in Santa Claus.
If you’re honest with people with your feedback, your true feelings, your preferences, and your beliefs, then you’re allowing them to build up a sense of resilience to the truth, so that when real life hits them, they are ready for it.
You’re not protecting their feelings by lying to them, you’re turning them into fragile pieces of glass that are going to shatter when the truth arrives.
8) You set a bad example
Everything you do affects everybody around you. Even your tiny little lies could completely change the track of someone else’s life.
If, for example, you pretend to not be sad when you’re sad, somebody else who’s depressed might become ashamed of sadness in your presence, so they’ll suppress it. Then they end up developing major depression, and 10 years down the track they commit suicide. All because they saw you hiding sadness and thought, “Shit, I can’t show sadness.”
9) You miss out on life
Dishonesty usually includes a kind of zoning out – a lack of presence as an autopilot takes over while you drift away into your little lie-world and wait for the uncomfortable moment to pass.
For example, being very polite on autopilot without knowing why you’re being polite – it’s like you’re not even there at all. You’ve hired a representative to speak for you while you disappear for a while.
This can cause you to miss out on huge chunks of your life as you just live out your script, play your role, and put on your performance without being present or consciously thinking things through. These “little” lies are essentially a distance from reality. You are spending time away from what’s real.
In other words, you’re not here in real life, so you’re dead.
Quite often, lying is an avoidance of confrontation and conflict, which means you hide the truth so that other people don’t get into a nasty emotional conflict with you.
What this really means is you’re disrespecting yourself.
We’re all confused about where the “I’m not good enough” story in our heads comes from. Well, most likely it comes from the repeated experience of you disrespecting yourself in favour of someone else’s emotions. You are not prioritizing your needs and wants over somebody else’s emotional comfort.
The way you feel about yourself comes from the way you treat yourself, not how other people treat you. So if you’re constantly disrespecting yourself by lying, then you’re going to feel like you’re not worthy of respect, which eventually just gets interpreted as being not worthy.
You’re doing that to yourself, nobody else is really even involved.
11) Misleading others
When you tell even the smallest of lies, you give people a false impression of you. Then they don’t really know who you are, what you want, what you don’t want, what you like, what you dislike, and because of that, they are not able to help you or serve you.
If, for example, I pretend like your cooking because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, you’re now unable to cook for me in a way that I really like. You’re going to keep cooking that shitty way. Whereas I could have told you the truth and then you could have served me a meal that you’d feel proud to serve me because I love it.
12) Loss of integrity
The problem with even small lies is a build up complacency and comfort with being dishonest. It won’t be too long before your natural reaction to unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations is to be dishonest.
These small lies are actually training you and setting you up for a BIG lie. There will come a time when you’re put under pressure and on autopilot you will react by breaching your integrity- maybe you’ll do something awful, just like the people who became evil killers during the Nazi war.
These normal Germans turned into mass murderers because they were just on autopilot and following instructions. They didn’t know how to stand up for themselves, probably because in the rest of their lives they’d been living in a comfortable way, using little lies to avoid discomfort and becoming ever more complacent around honesty.
These little pieces of dishonesty that you do to protect people’s feelings (or whatever other excuses you give to your cowardice) are setting you up. One day, you’re going to cross a big line and really regret it.
13) You aren’t believable
A lot of guys complain to me that when they try to compliment their girl, she won’t take it. You know, you’re trying to tell her that she looks beautiful, and she’ll complain “No, I’m ugly!”
It annoys guys, they say, “I’m trying to help her. I’m trying to give her a compliment. She doesn’t believe me?”
Well, the problem is you’re not honest about the things you don’t like, the things you disapprove of, and the boundaries you want to set. How can someone believe your compliments if you are never critical?
Those little lies that you tell to avoid coming across as someone who’s critical or judgmental actually make it harder for people to believe you when you’re being complimentary. If you want people to believe your praise, you have to give them honest criticism as well, and vice versa.
14) You fade into the background
When you tell the little white lies that people tell to survive the day, you become just another fucking liar.
You don’t stand out, you’re not unique, you’re not memorable. So at the very best, this little lying you’re doing to “fit in” does make you fit in, which means nobody’s going to find you particularly interesting or worth connecting with.
15) You lose yourself
Many psychiatric disorders create a split in the psyche. For example, when somebody has anorexia, they feel like they’re themselves and anorexia, these two different entities living inside one brain.
Lying does the same thing. There’s the ‘real you’ – what he really wants and what he really feels and what he really believes in – and then there’s the ‘dishonest you’ who tells lies to protect himself. Eventually, you’ll feel a split, where the honest you passively watches the dishonest you as he controls your life.
It’s a horrible isolated feeling, where you actually lose track of who the fuck you are. I remember the times where I’d be at a party, pretending, trying to make people laugh, trying to impress them, trying to make them love me, and in the back of my mind I’m just watching myself do this, like a split personality. I felt like the real me was locked in a room and had to watch the fake me interact in the real world.
It was a terrible sense of loss, like I wasn’t myself anymore. I didn’t really exist.
16) We have enough liars already
One problem with lying is you’re bringing more deception into a world that’s already rife with it. You complain about all the other liars in the world – the politicians and the corrupt businesses and bullshit con-artists – and yet you’re contributing to it, rather than diminishing it.
17) You forget what you stand for
One of the problems of being dishonest, like I said before, is eventually you lose track of who you really are. You lose your personality, your identity, your sense of self. And then you start to lose what you even stand for. You forget your preferences.
You spend too much time being agreeable until you don’t even know what you disagree with anymore. You lose track of your beliefs, your boundaries, of where you stand. It’s a horribly apathetic feeling, like not caring about who you are.
Nice Guys often take pride in being “easy-going,” yet underneath this claim is the dark truth that they have no fucking clue what they even like or dislike.
You don’t realize that all the little polite lies that you tell throughout the day just to avoid confrontation and discomfort are like poison to your sense of self. You’re eroding it away, until one day you feel like there’s nothing left.
You ever feel lonely? Wonder why? Because you’re a fucking liar!
Dishonesty creates a disconnection between people. You cannot build a deep, meaningful, intimate connection with someone when you’re pretending and they’re doing the same. Combine this with what we’re already discussed about splitting your own psyche, and before long you aren’t connected to anyone, not even yourself.
Loneliness comes from a lack of honesty. If you want to experience a sense of connection with the world and with other people, you need to be YOU and express yourself as accurately as possible.
19) You support evil
When you lie to avoid confrontation, you’re not taking a neutral stance, you’re actually supporting the negative stance. This is called the bystander effect.
If I don’t intervene with what I truly think and believe then, by default, I am supporting the opposite. If, for example, I see somebody who’s racist and I don’t tell them that I think they’re racist, I am essentially supporting racism.
Holding back on honesty is not neutral, it is supporting dishonesty. So understand that every time you don’t speak your mind, you are implicitly supporting the opposite. A vote not cast is a vote for the bad guy.
20) You miss out on an authentic life
One of the worst things about being casually dishonest is you don’t get to find out how the world’s going to react to the real you.
You’ve already assumed that you have to be a little bit fake in order to fit into the world, but this means you’re missing the opportunity to see what a world that accepts you for who you are might look like.
Imagine what it might look like if you did a job that was right for you, if all your friends were an awesome fit for you, if your partner was the perfect match, if you could speak your mind freely at all times. You’re going to miss out on what all those experiences are like if you’re being even a little bit fake.
When you’re being totally honest, you get to experience what properly fitting into the world feels like. And I’m telling you from experience: it’s fucking amazing!
21) You never grow up
The ability to lie is something that we develop in childhood in order to solve problems. It’s an extension of creativity, the same creativity that allows us to write fiction and create songs and build buildings that never existed before. Lying is creativity translated into deception and dishonesty to keep children out of trouble.
This means if you’re still doing this shit as an adult, then you never grew up! You’re Peter Pan!
You’re still using a childhood strategy to solve problems. It’s ages five to 18 that use lies to solve their problems, so if you’re still holding back and pretending to be something you’re not etc. in order to avoid certain problems, then you are a fucking child.
Build Your Courage
What it all comes down to is there’s essentially only one reason that somebody lies. Any time somebody is even slightly dishonest, it’s always for the same reason:
I don’t care what stories you tell yourself. I don’t care about the noble fucking narrative you give to it, about how you’re being a good person or helping someone avoid pain or blah blah blah…
You’re a fucking coward when you lie.
Now I lie sometimes, too. I’m not perfect. But I try not to lie to myself about it. I admit that I only ever lie because I’m afraid of being truthful. No matter what story I paint for myself about how I’m “protecting someone’s feelings” or “it’s not appropriate right now” – it’s all bullshit. It’s just another lie to cover up the main truth, which is that I’m afraid.
Remember, you can lie if you want to, but don’t lie to yourself. Admit that you’re a coward and live with that. And if that bothers you, then change, because then you don’t have to be a fucking liar! Simple.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be harassed by me in this post. I’m open to suggestion and hearing your thoughts and feelings on this, so please comment below, and share it around if you’d like to upset some people.
And if you’re interested in becoming a more honest person; if you want to reduce the number of your lies so that you get to experience what it’s like to live in a world that accepts you for who you are, and you get to be whatever it is that you are best at being, then get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help guide you towards it.