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Sometimes, Honesty Is Not The Best Policy

Sometimes, Honesty Is Not The Best Policy

Liar, liar pants on fire. No one wants to get caught in a lie and appear to be dishonest or deceptive. But does telling a lie actually make you either of those things?

The truth is, there are some advantages to lying; and they aren’t always for self-gain. Sometimes people choose to lie to protect others and spare their feelings. Because let’s face it, the truth hurts.

    Why do we even lie?

    We all need to take a moment to be honest with ourselves and admit that we all lie. It is in our innate nature to deceive and sometimes protect.

    Yes, we sometimes tell lies to cover up bad behavior, manipulate others, or rise to power and attain what we want.

    But we also lie to spare the feelings of others, avoid unnecessary conflict, or to simply brighten up someone’s day.

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    Dishonesty is in our nature.

    Researchers believe that the act of lying came into play after the development of language. It is the evolution of deceptive strategy, just as animals use camouflage to deceive their predators or prey.

    In terms of efficiency, lying is the easiest way to rise to power and attain resources. If your enemy is larger and stronger than you, then physical force will not be very effective. But if you are able to outwit and manipulate your enemy; not only can you acquire their resources, but make them believe that it was their idea own idea.

    How often do we lie?

    This of course is relative to the individual. The frequency of lying was first documented by social psychologist Bella DePaulo.

    She asked 147 individuals to record their blips of dishonesty throughout the day. On average, her subjects lied at least twice a day. The lies themselves were relatively harmless in nature; innocuous excuses for instances such as lateness. Or fibs that present a false image; saying that you ran 5 miles instead of the truthful 2.

    We’ve been fibbing since we learned to talk.

    In actuality, we are conditioned to lie at a young age. Didn’t your parents tell you to always thank your host for that “delicious” meal that you had to choke down? Social graces aside, it’s still a lie.

    Children typically learn to lie between the ages of 2-5. Kang Lee, a psychologist from the University of Toronto studied children between the ages of 2-8 to gauge the kind of lies that children tell.

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    When children first begin to lie at the age of 2, it is an indication that they are starting to test out their independence. They lie simply to see what they can get away with.

    By the age of 8, the children actually have the capacity of lying to spare the feelings of others. The results of the study actually found that these lies are motivated by empathy and compassion rather than deceit and manipulation.

      Lying is a reflection of our goals.

      Sometimes you don’t even need to open your mouth to tell a lie. A simple facial expression is enough to convey a mistruth.

      Embellishments, exaggerations, these are the close counterparts to outright lies. But in this case, these lies are almost never malicious. But in fact, a projection of one’s aspirations.

      In an experiment conducted by Robert Feldman, he questioned a number of students about their grades and efforts in school. Most of them were dishonest about their actual grades. But instead of becoming anxious as most people do amidst a lie, they became incredibly engaged and excited to boast about their achievements.

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      “We lie if honesty won’t work”- Tim Levine

      Is there a difference between moral and immoral lying? If we’re being honest with ourselves, the answer is a resounding yes. Some lies are well intentioned- meant to protect those who are being lied to.

      Lying has even been found to have psychological benefits for the liar. Those who are extremely honest with themselves are more prone to depression than those who are not. Overtly honest people are often construed as blunt, sometimes even pathological.

      There are even interpersonal benefits to be gained from lying and knowing when it is okay to do so. In fact, if someone detects that you have lied to them to protect them, it could increase the trust that they have in you.

      These well intentioned lies are known as pro-social lies.

      Lying for the better good.

      Pro-social lying involves four distinct constructs of human capacity: theory of mind, compassion, memory and imagination.

      In this case, our choice to lie is a result of moral and emotional reasoning. We prioritize kindness over the importance of truth to spare other persons involved. As our brains develop, our moral reasoning progresses at the same rate as self-control as well as cognitive ability.

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      Further still, the most selfless of lies is known as a blue lie. These lies tend to be altruistic falsities that are actually told at the cost of the liar to protect someone else. In this case, we might subject ourselves to punishment for the wrongdoing of others.

        Honestly, lying isn’t so bad.

        What determines the magnitude of the lie is the intent behind it. Lies that are told to protect others can actually help to strengthen relationships. Other lies that are told to embellish ones image are debatably harmless.

        It all boils down to one fact- we all have our reasons for the lies that we tell and the facts that we choose not to share. At the end of the day, what we don’t know won’t hurt us. Sometimes a tiny lie is necessary to ensure that all is well and all runs smoothly.

        Featured photo credit: Movies with Mae via google.com

        More by this author

        Anna Chui

        Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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        Last Updated on October 13, 2020

        12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

        12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

        Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

        We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

        1. Compare Yourself to Others

        People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

        In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[1]. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

        Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

        2. Be Mean-Spirited

        People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

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        If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

        3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

        Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

        Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

        People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

        If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

        4. Dwell on Failure

        It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

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        People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset[2]. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

        For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

        Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

        5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

        People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

        Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

        6. Try to Please Others

        They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

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        7. Close Yourself off

        Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

        As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”[3]. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

        You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

        8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

        People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

        9. Fish for Compliments

        If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

        You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

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        10. Be Lazy

        People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

        This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

        11. Shy Away from Risks

        When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

        12. Gossip

        People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

        Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

        The Bottom Line

        Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

        If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

        More Tips on Building Confidence

        Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem
        [2] Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
        [3] Forbes: Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better

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