I used to lie a lot when I was a kid. I wasn't intent on deceiving people, but for some reason I would just tell made up stories. They weren't even fantastic stories, they were just things that hadn't happened. I really have no idea why I did it.
One day I was hanging out with my friend Ryan and his family. We had just gone to a movie and were driving back to his house. Right as we were driving down his street I told a story to everyone in the car. I don't remember the story, but I remember it had something to do with cabinets. Hey, it was a long time ago.
Ryan's mother innocently asked a question that began with, "Wait... if you did that, then how could you have..."
I was busted. The story was completely fabricated and everyone knew it. Worse, it wasn't even impressive. I had lied about some mundane every day story. I was mortally embarrassed. Everyone could sense my embarrassment and took it as a sign to keep quiet. That was worse.
I think that day was a turning point for me, even though I was only in middle school. I stopped lying. Seared into my brain was the idea that lying equaled immeasurable humiliation. Telling the truth couldn't possibly be worse than that.
Since then I have a more mature philosophy on lying. I do it all the time. Just kidding. Here's why not to lie :
- Lying is a huge indicator of low self esteem. Why not only do things that you're proud of? If you're proud of something, why not tell people about it? People who lie are embarrassed by the truth, so they are forced to make something up. When I catch people lying I'm not really offended, I just feel bad.
- Lying is stressful. Is he going to find out? Does she secretly know the truth? Which version of the story did I tell Bob? Do you really need this sort of baggage running through your mind all the time? I don't.
- People know when you're lying, and they don't like liars. Look - I know when someone is lying. I will act as though I don't know (because is a confrontation REALLY going to stop that person from lying?), but I think way less of that person. If you lie once and the person knows, they will assume you're lying about EVERYTHING. There's really no such thing as a white lie, because if it's discovered you won't get any credit for true things you say down the road!
- Telling the truth ALWAYS works. There have been SO many times where I've wanted to lie and I've mustered the courage to just blurt out the truth. Every single time it's felt great and been the right thing to do.
I'm totally not perfect, so I guess I do lie once in a while. I'm sure you've read about that ONE time. My lies are tiny ones, though. The other day I told my mom I was farther along building her web page than I was. I felt bad about it. Then the next day I spent a lot of time and built the whole thing. Still, I should have just told her the truth.
Some people make up insane lies that I can't fathom. I've seen people construct HUGE elaborate lies that they have to keep up on a daily basis so that people don't figure out the truth. One girl (no, not the one in my story) even pretended to be pregnant to try to keep her boyfriend. She was a total wreck and eventually alienated all of her friends when they found out about her lies.
I get accused of lying about my stories pretty often. I hope that this is because my stories are fantastic, not because I seem like a liar!
Sometimes you can be put in awkward situations, though. For example, let's say that Sally told me that she's going to dump Bill. Bill then says "Hey, do you think Sally is going to dump me?"
What should you do?
I would lie and pretend that I didn't know. As far as I'm concerned, if someone tells me something and tells me not to tell anyone, I didn't hear it. I don't think lying is a great option, but I think it's the most fair to everyone involved. Also, I would be lying to sally if I told her secret to Bill.
How about if a guy says, "Hey do you like my painting?" about his ugly painting?
There's a lot of incentive to lie here, but there's no good reason to. I would say "Honestly, not really. I'm not any sort of art critic, but it doesn't appeal to me." I've never seen someone who doesn't appreciate this sort of honesty. If he asks, I might give him some more detailed feedback that he could use later. If he paints a better one and I say, "Ooh, I like this one," then he knows that I'm telling the truth .
If you lie, be honest with yourself (or is that a catch-22?) and examine why you lie. Is it REALLY the best thing to be doing? Maybe give total honesty a try for 30 days and see where it gets you. It can be scary, but it's worth it.