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Honesty is a tough thing.
I think everyone wants to be honest until the moment when they get caught in a mistake or an embarrassing situation.
- We don’t want to disappoint others,
- we don’t want them to think less of us,
- we don’t want to be punished,
- we think there is something we can gain from the lie,
- we are trying to fit a mold,
- or we want to feel better about ourselves.
It just seems easier to fudge the truth.
And why not? Who does it hurt anyways? Is honesty really the “best policy?”
1) Effect on Self
Let’s begin by making sure we are all on the same page about what a lie is. The definition of a lie is deceit on purpose.
I’m not talking about all those times when someone legitimately didn’t know that they were in the wrong. I mean deliberately changing the facts for your own benefit.
If lies are deliberate, is it possible to lie to yourself?
Albert Adler called this a “life lie”. It’s the act of trying to trick yourself into being something else- something holy, with good intentions, who never did any wrong. It’s hiding your mistakes from yourself. You might even start to believe it after a while, but like any lie, in the moment of creation you knew it wasn’t true.
The problem with hiding from your truths is that you never learn any real and lasting lessons from your life.
Living perfectly isn’t living. It’s ok that you’re not perfect. If you were, you’d be bored. And a perfect life wouldn’t include boredom- so I guess it just isn’t possible.
Life is full of mistakes and accidents. Each time we rule out something that isn’t effective in our relationships, in our parenting, in our jobs, we get a step closer to becoming effective in those areas. Without this individual education, we couldn’t know who we are, what we want, or where we’re going in life.
Every time you trick your brain by lying to yourself, you condition yourself to be a certain way. You condition yourself to be a liar. You lose some of your character, some of your strength to tell the truth or to be who you should be.
Your brain only activates its regions that are being used. That means if you lie, your brain is actively creating connections that support your lie. That’s why people start to believe it after a while.
That’s also why lies are addicting. Your brain is stuck in those working connections.
Consider all the prison guards in the Nazi camps. Yes, this is an extreme example- but it illustrates how far things can go when people lie to themselves.
These prison guards did terrible, horrendous things. They were normal people like you and me at some point in their life. But, they denied their inner conscience (which surely told them in the beginning that it is wrong to harm innocent people).
They didn’t just deny their conscience once- they denied it over and over again.
At first, there were small things that didn’t seem consequential, like accepting that they were a better than others because of their race. Then treating others like they were lesser humans. Then stealing property from others because of their race… On and on until they justified to themselves- despite the pleadings of their human side- that they could physically abuse others.
As they repeatedly lied to themselves, they slowly lost the ability to differentiate the truth. They forgot how to use their own moral compass to point them north. With their brain conditioning to act according to the will of their leaders and not to respond to their own feelings, they lost the ability to stand up for themselves until they were stuck in something much bigger than themselves.
The only remedy is to start telling the truth.
Flip this process on its head. Start your brain to creating new connections- ones that support the truth. Build your character to be stronger than it is today- step by step. Tell one truth, and get a little stronger. Tell another, and you’ll gain a little confidence. Keep it up, and you’ll start forming a habit.
Lying to yourself or to others hurts your soul. It weakens your character. It is childishly seeking your own good at the expense of others. It is failure to accept responsibility or consequences for your actions or thoughts.
Do yourself a favor. Tell the truth. You don’t have to shell out everything about your personal life to everyone you come into contact with. You don’t even have to answer questions that are directly posed to you if you don’t want to.
But don’t deliberately deceive others or yourself.
For more information on transforming your life through honesty, click the image below!
2) Effect on Children
Let’s apply this to parenthood.
What do you imagine your child becoming when they are an adult?
I’m sure they are smart, successful, confident, in control of their lives, capable, and effective. They make wise choices and positively influence the people around them. They have families, careers, educations, and happiness.
That’s every parent’s dream for their kids.
Honesty directly influences those marks of being successful in two ways.
- What are the odds that the person described in section 1 could raise a kid like that?
Kids learn from our example.
If we constantly lie to ourselves, the kid will know it. Kids pick up on much less.
They know the difference between what we say and what we do. They know when we are hypocritical or when we fail to practice what we preach.
Kids whose parents lie learn to lie. And they learn to mistrust others.
2. Let’s say your kid learns to lie from watching you or others around him. He becomes the person described in section 1. What are the odds that the person described in section 1 could have all those positive qualities that you wish for your child?
Yes, he no doubt has some positive qualities, but he is short changing himself.
If your child learns to lie to himself, it will be much more difficult for him to develop into the person you want him to be.
Is a liar smart, successful, confident, in control of their lives, capable, and effective?
You tell me. And don’t lie.
Click the images below for more resources on teaching children to tell the truth!
Teach Your Dragon to Stop Lying: A Dragon Book To Teach Kids NOT to Lie. A Cute Children Story To Teach Children About Telling The Truth and Honesty. (My Dragon Books) (Volume 15)
3) Effect on Society
Imagine a whole civilization of people who accept lies as a part of daily life. They try to deceive each other deliberately on a regular basis. It’s not too hard to imagine because it’s not too far from our reality.
(Just think about our politicians!)
There is mass decrease in character in society as a whole. (We know that such a mass falling from grace is possible from watching societies like Nazi Germany.)
In our culture, most people accept that lies are bad- unless it’s themselves telling the lie and until the reasons justify the deception.
We see this all the time- at work, in marriages, on TV, on social media, and definitely in politics.
People don’t stand up for their true beliefs. They trick themselves into fitting the mold (a mold of shame, hiding, and embarrassment).
Each generation teaches the next one to continue this path, which makes each new generation more and more stuck in bad habits. And then we’re stuck- controlled by forces beyond our control, living at the whim of what the majority wants for us instead of what we want for ourselves.
There it is.
Lies influence society as a whole, not just the people involved in the lie.
Can you imagine a society that didn’t live like this? What if we lived in a culture that was so honest that we could trust our politicians? I can’t even imagine that…. But I’m excited about any small step we can take toward that.
Click on the image below!
Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life
Be a strong individual. Be in control. Be honest.
There is no such thing as an innocent lie. It impacts your soul and your character. This impacts your parenting. This impacts society.
The truth matters. Being real matters.
Tell the truth. Always.
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