But being dishonest-or let’s say it outright-lying-is not harmless. So why do we do it? Because being honest can mean exposing a piece of your soul that you may keep hidden5for fear of judgment, loss of respect or loss of love.6 It’s common to only tell parts of a truth that one feels people want to hear, either by omitting revealing facts or telling “little white lies” that paint a very different picture of our “real” reality.7
Self-protection also is a powerful motivator. Frequently people are “advised” by their inner critic not to say what feel so they don’t appear too vulnerable. They act like they don’t care so they won’t feel like a fool.8
Then there are times we all feel we should forego unpleasant pieces of information in order to spare a person’s feelings, even when those details are important and we know it.9 Unfortunately, those fibs we tell because we don’t want to hurt someone (from the mild “Oh, I love your neighborhood!” to the serious “No, he wasn’t with anyone.”) can leave us feeling poorly about ourselves because we are not being authentic.10
Understanding why we lie can help us start to be more honest. Lying is “tied in with self-esteem,” says Robert Feldman, psychologist at the University of Massachusetts. “We find that as soon as people feel their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels.”11
Feldman states people should become more aware of how often they are less than honest. People need to realize that honesty yields more genuine relationships and trust. “The default ought to be to be honest and accurate,” he says.12
One has to remember that being honest requires honesty with yourself first. Once you accept your true feelings and motivations, you can speak more straightforwardly with others.13 Often, when you ask the right questions, strive to view a tenuous situation with a detached mindset and practice patience with another person, you can build a stronger relationship than it may previously have been.14 Truthfulness, as hard as it might seem, actually can strengthen connections.15
If you do slip up but the moment has passed, be honest with yourself. Acknowledge that you didn’t handle a situation right and vow to do better if a similar situation happens again.
1 10 Research Findings About Deception That Will Blow Your Mind. LIESPOTTING. http://liespotting.com/2010/06/10-research-findings-about-deception-that-will-blow-your-mind/
2 Jimenez, Sallie. Nurses rank #1 once again in Gallup poll for ethics and honesty. NURSE.com. https://www.nurse.com/blog/2016/12/21/nurses-rank-1-once-again-in-gallup-poll-for-ethics-and-honesty/
3 Llyod, Robin. Why We Lie. May 15, 2006. Live Science/Health. http://www.livescience.com/772-lie.html
4 National Honesty Day. Holiday Insights. http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/April/honestyday.htm
5 Carver, Melissa. The Truth About Lying: Why People Lie and How to Cope. The Chopra Center.
6 Firestone, Lisa, Ph.D., Why We Lie and How to Stop. Psychology Today. Posted Feb. 23, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201309/why-we-lie-and-how-stop
10 Lloyd op. cit.
13 Carver op. cit.
14 Sun 30th Apr, 2017 will be…Honest Day., op. cit.