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A Lesson in Lying Less

A Lesson in Lying Less

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.

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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.

Meet Bob

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:

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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.

Meet Mike

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 workOften 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:

  1. He became a better person.
  2. He became more confident.
  3. He became more self-aware and motivated to make changes.
  4. 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?

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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.

Why?

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.

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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

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Siobhan Harmer

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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