Love, Always

Why “harmless” white lies… aren’t. (And how to start telling the truth.)

“The naked truth is always better than the best dressed lie” —Ann Landers.

Oh, those harmless little “white lies.”

So easy to say. So easy to excuse. What’s the big deal? No one will find out.

Many people tell white lies to “spare” people’s feelings, cover up tracks, or evade minor consequences.

White lies may seem like they are “not a big deal.”

But when we lie — even in a relatively small way — there is always a cost.

There’s a cost… because by lying, you’re essentially saying to yourself and to others, “The truth doesn’t really matter.”

There’s a cost… because if a child catches you in the middle of a lie, your position as a role model gets tarnished. (Kids can’t tell the difference between “big” lies and “small” ones. They just know that a lie is a lie… and now, because of the example you’ve set? That lying is OK.)

There’s a cost… because, usually, people can sense when you’re not being completely honest. Lies create cracks at the foundation of even the best relationships. (People think, “If you’re lying to me about this little thing, what else are you lying about?”)

Why do I bring this up now? During this most festive time of the year?

Because during the holiday season — when many of us are traveling, socializing, seeing family and popping into workplace parties — the white lies tend to increase, dramatically. Like snowflakes drifting down on the streets…

And yet, all this fibbing is so unnecessary.

By communicating mindfully, and truthfully, we can express the same kinds of sentiments — without lying.

Three examples:

“It’s been ages. I’ve been meaning to call you.” [white lie, if you really haven’t thought about this person for years.]

“It’s been ages. How about we make a date to get together right now and I’ll plug it into my phone.” [total truth.]

“You look so wonderful!” [white lie, if you really think, “Gosh, this person looks exhausted and sickly.”]

“It’s so wonderful to see you.” [total truth]

“Sorry I’m late for the party. Crazy traffic!” [white lie, if you weren’t really stuck in traffic, but just mismanaged your time.]

“Sorry I’m late for the party… I’m so glad to be joining you now.” [total truth]

Lying is tiring.

Telling the truth is so much simpler, and more energizing.

As the witty Mark Twain puts it:

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

When you speak the truth, you won’t be cluttering up your mind and short-circuiting your energy by plugging it up with a lie.

So, don’t lie. Just tell the truth. Accept the consequences, if and when they arise.

You deserve to be spoken to with honesty and respect, and others do, too.

And that… is the truth.