Lying is regarded as a negative aspect of life, and yet very few people actively seek to stop their lying habits. Scott from Life Long Learner has avoided lying for four months. Here are the lessons that he has learnt that he hopes you can learn from:
Four months ago I committed to completely cutting lying out of my life.
The positive results from this change have been shocking and hopefully serve as a potent motivator to consider doing the same in your own life.
In the process of striving for 100% honesty at all times, I’ve realized that:
a) I used to tell told lots of baby lies.
b) Lying is one of the most crippling things to your personal growth.
Below I want to explain how lying, even in the most minuscule forms, is hindering you from becoming the most virtuous, courageous, happy member of society that you can be…
But first, have you ever heard someone say this?
“Honesty Is Very Important to Me”
If you asked most people whether they’re honest, I bet 99% of people out would respond absolutely. Yet many of these people constantly tell little lies because it’s more convenient than telling the truth.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
Maybe a co-worker asks whether you saw their email…
Even though you saw it, you reply “not yet” because you don’t feel like dealing with their questions right now. Or your girlfriend asks why you didn’t text her back… Instead of saying you didn’t because you found her behavior annoying, you tell her you fell asleep to avoid confrontation. Just the other day my mom asked me if I went to the doctor’s office because I was sick…
I hadn’t yet. I could say no and deal with the inevitable coaxing, or say yes and avoid it all together. Before this change, I probably would have said yes. For whatever reason, many people don’t consider altering the truth in seemingly inconsequential circumstances lying. They regularly tell ‘baby lies’ to make their lives more convenient, yet they say that they cling to honesty as part of their core ethos.
At least that’s what I did.
What Happens When You Live Out Liar Liar?
I never thought I was a liar.
Truthfully, my moral fiber is something I’ve always prided myself on and honesty was an integral part of that. But I didn’t realize how often I told little lies to make my life more convenient until my roommates Ben and Charlie pointed out many peoples’ tendency to do this.
This realization prompted a personal pact to tell the 100% truth no matter what…even when it forced me into uncomfortable and embarrassing positions. Well, I’m four months into living out the movie Liar Liar and can confirm it’s been an eye opening experience.
I’ll be the first to admit that I may have slipped up here and there, but I can only recall a few instances where I specifically remember saying something that wasn’t the truth. Usually this was out of unconscious habit more than anything else. In the process of being totally honest in every interaction, I definitely turned some people off…
It’s much harder to tell a new acquaintance at a party that you’re going to go mingle with other people now because “you’re seeking true love” than saying you’re leaving a conversation “to go the bathroom or grab a drink” (my former go to’s).
BUT, I also became closer to many people, both strangers and close friends because I was presenting my truest self. Above all, I realized that all forms of lying prevent people from stepping into greatness and happiness.
How Lying Prevents You From Becoming Your Best, Happiest Self
Lying has a myriad of bad consequences, but for this post I want to focus on how it undermines your personal growth. I thought a depiction of two hypothetical mens’ lives would provide a nice demonstration of how dangerous lying really is.
Most people consider Bob a good guy.
He’s friendly, has a good job, and never has a potty mouth in front of his elders. But what no one knows about Bob is that he lies a lot. His lies are almost always about seemingly trivial things. This is why people are unaware of this tendency and still think he’s a good dude.
In addition to lying to others, Bob also lies to himself about why he doesn’t have the relationships, professional success, and health he desires for his life. In the comfort of his thoughts, Bob blames the fact that he’s been dealt a worse hand for his good, but less than ideal disposition.
“Things are just naturally easier for others” Bob says.
To be fair, this is true. Bob is not the #1 gifted human on earth. But deep down Bob knows that he’s gifted enough to change his circumstances…it’d just take a lot of work and discomfort to get the results he wants.
So he’s faced with a decision:
If he’s 100% honest with himself, he’ll have to accept responsibility for his life and do the work to get the results he wants.
If he lies to himself, he can continue blame something else which makes it easier to cope with reality and avoid the necessary hard work and discomfort to get the relationships, success, and everything else he wants.
Bob chooses to continue to lie. This is actually a very easy choice that he doesn’t even think about. Easy? How the heck can that be? Well, because Bob already lies regularly to others and himself, feeding his brain this belief comes naturally at this point.
Bob stays the same, nothing bad happens, and he continues to live a quiet life of desperation.
Mike is Bob’s friend and frat brother from college.
In his junior year, Mike read a book that made him realize that most things were possible if you could just push through the discomfort phase which is where most others stop. When Mike discovered this he started pursuing the things he wanted for his life with zeal. In the process, he naturally became more self-aware and honest with himself.
The root of his self-awareness was that all of life’s skills could be learned and delights acquired if he was willing to do the work. Often this meant working on himself and beliefs instead of a tangible object or hobby.
Eventually 100% honesty extended beyond himself and permeated all Mike’s interactions. He never lied to anyone, ever. To his surprise, this eventually felt much more natural than lying.
Making this switch to total honesty was much easier for Mike than Bob because he was already so honest with himself. He’d built an internal proclivity for truth that facilitated the external manifestation of unwavering honesty.
And the coolest part was that crazy things happened started happening to Mike when he began living so honestly:
- He became a better person.
- He became more confident.
- He became more self-aware and motivated to make changes.
- He became happier and less stressed out.
People started asking Mike what he was eating for breakfast!?
He’d always chuckle at this question and say his first meal starts at 2pm because he adopted intermittent fasting. Obvi.
How And Why Does 100% Honesty Make Your Life More Awesome?
Though the caricatures of Bob and Mike are hypothetical, the effects that lying had on their lives mirror reality. Here’s why being 100% honest at all times is so powerful for personal growth.
Accountability To Live A Life That Makes Momma Proud
When you commit to never lying you become much more accountable for your actions. You don’t do things you’d be embarrassed or ashamed of because you know you need to take ownership of them. There is no easy fix for something you’re not proud of. You can’t lie remember! The only way to avoid shame is by living a life you feel comfortable sharing with everyone.
You Become More Confident
Confidence is about being comfortable with who you are even in your most vulnerable states…and developing true comfort with yourself requires cutting lies out of your life.
It is next to impossible to be 100% comfortable with who you are if your words do not mirror reality. When there’s an incongruence between the truth and what you say, you’re subconsciously signaling to yourself that you’re uncomfortable with your reality.
If you were comfortable, why would you be lying?
If you strive to reach the greatest levels of comfort with yourself and become supremely confident, complete honesty must permeate your life at all times.
Become More Self-Aware
When you lie out of convenience you’re usually avoiding something. This could be potential rejection or taking action on something you don’t want to do. In all cases, you’re postponing or sidestepping reality.
Developing a habit of lying to postpone or shield ourselves from reality eventually makes reality harder to see. Our brains default to a falsehood that portrays a more comfortable version of our lives. As a result, we develop a disposition of diminished self-awareness.
Lack of self-awareness is terrible for self improvement because we need to first identify the realities we’d like to alter before we can take the steps to actualize the change…
Conversely, when you never lie, you constantly have to accept responsibility for reality. This inspires incredible self-awareness and a greater propensity to “lean into the truth.“
Again, cognizance of reality is key for motivating our desires to change.
Oh. And You’ll Be Happier
When you’re 100% honest at all times, you never have anything to hide. This is huge.
There’s no chance of “being found out” and life feels lighter due to the absence of having to uphold a fabricated reality. You’ll have less stress and be a happier clam. Trust me.
But What About Santa?
Are there some instances where we’re better people when we lie?
For example, telling white lies to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings?
What about Santa? Should we tell our kids that Santa isn’t real?
So far I’m going to try for 100% honesty for everything but talking about Santa. I’m sure there are a few other situational instances that might make moral sense that I can’t think of right now…but just because these extreme scenarios exist, doesn’t mean I should re-architect my philosophy because 99.9% of the time not lying is the better option. That seems more like a move to rationalize what’s easier and typically more advantageous for me instead of striving for what’s best, even if it means taking some hits along the way.
The bottom line is the long-term costs of situational honesty or baby lies are just too high.
The truth is hard and it hurts, but are we really doing everyone a favor by masking it?
In most cases, there are ways to exercise finesse in how you communicate so that it burns less or not at all.
And being 100% honest doesn’t mean injecting your feelings or beliefs on everyone all the time. It just means when you open your mouth what you say is true. Many times when I have a belief that might hurt someone that does not need to be stated, I’ll just keep it to myself because I don’t want to make someone else feel bad. But if someone asks me something that requires a response, you better believe I’m holding my ground and telling the truth.
Also, for instances that relate to ourselves, I’d challenge people who are weary of flying the 100% honesty flag if the instances that their worried about are a product of their own behavior?
The harsh reality might not be so harsh if you acted differently beforehand because you knew you couldn’t lie.
After 4 months of raw honesty, I’ve noticed an incredibly positive effect on how I conduct myself, my confidence, self-awareness, and proclivity to hunt the truth.
Don’t get me wrong, it has been painful at times and I’ve definitely turned some people off in the process. But the benefits for myself and the people in my life that I care about have far outweighed any pain I’ve endured. This is my case for cutting lies from our lives. And yes, this means even the baby one’s we use for convenience!
I genuinely believe doing this will help us become the greatest, happiest version of ourselves.
Scott is a lifestyle entrepreneur based in Rio De Janeiro. He writes about self-improvement, business, and lifehacks at Life-LongLearner.com and tweets at Britton.
The Least Talked About Enemy of Personal Growth | Life Long Learner