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Little white lies (may not be so little… or white)

Updated on March 14, 2016

If you were asked to count all the lies you have told in last seven days, or at least just to remember most of them, admit it, you would have some difficulties with this task. No worries, you are not alone in this. In our culture lying has become as common as a morning coffee. Almost everyone lies. And I am not talking about lies involving criminal, or big fat immoral lies that get you condemned for a lifetime. Lying has become way more than just a moral act- it is a way of living, a way of social interacting, an everyday phenomena.

People lie about themselves, about their accomplishments and contributions, about their virtues and flaws, they lie about their feelings and opinions, they lie about other people to make themselves look better. In fact, they lie so much that some of them do not even know they are lying most of the time. What lies behind this grand culture of lying, is it harmful or harmless, should we just let it go, or do something about it?

Like all other animals, people have some basic needs and urges, which are transferred to a social level, and one of them is the need for safety and acceptance of the group. We need to lie to keep our job and our respectful place in society, we need to camouflage. That is perfectly reasonable, but it seems that we lie way more than we need to survive. It seems that our lies are a symptom of a much deeper psychological problem that many people silently carry through their whole lives.

Are we lying to deceive others or ourselves? Is our new, untrue self made for others or for ourselves? Are we avoiding the true presentation to get away from reality and our true selves with whom we are not satisfied?

This is a problem you cannot run away from, and it may have a great impact on our lives. There is a constant need of comparing yourself with others and bind your happiness to money, success and possession; a constant need for more, and a constant feeling that we do not have enough, that we are not enough. All of this goes hand in hand with our fear that we will be judged, judged for simply being who we are.

Furthermore, lying in many ways reduces the quality of social interactions and relationships. Lying significantly reduces intimacy of the social interaction and makes it less pleasant. If you are faking your feelings or lying to make someone feel better, the comfort you are offering is not true, and there is no empathy. While you are lying, you experience distress and discomfort, and that feeling continues after the lie has been told. Lying is not just a moral peril; it is also a psychological peril, a problem of overall well-being. Is it really worth to go through all of this just to get that psychic reward that supports your self-deceit?

So what to do- to lie or not to lie? By lying we are trying to create a picture of what we want to be, or what others want us to be, it is a mark of our dissatisfaction with our true selves. It shows our great fear of being honest to ourselves and to others. No, it is not easy. Yes, it is a path less travelled, but if you took that leap of faith, if you dared to be yourself, dared to be honest, maybe you would find out how freeing it was. Only by accepting yourself as you are, and by letting yourself be, you can start to grow and become a person you want to be. Maybe if we had the courage, we could learn to love ourselves, to be true to ourselves, and begin a journey to personal freedom and well-being by rejecting those chains of self-deceit.

When do you think it is okay to lie?

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by Ayn Rand

“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”

by Cheryl Hughes

“The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation.”

My Sociopath: From Sociopath Parents to Loving Sociopaths to Waking Up


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