I often wonder why people lie.
After all, nothing good comes out of it. Natural, universal laws are set in motion so that when a lie is fabricated, a boomerang effect activates and the consequences of that lie come back to the one who lied, and sooner than later.
Let’s not deepen in the fact that lying hurts others, because then the debate of the “white lie” opens, and that is another conversation. Let’s talk about the fact that lying is a waste of universal time.
Perhaps people lie because nobody has shown us how to speak the truth in a beneficial way, in service of everyone’s happiness. Sometimes the truth hurts, and more often than not, it makes us uncomfortable. Hence, the truth takes many forms—we have learned to say it between lies. This is a waste of time if you ask me, because no matter how long it takes, the truth always rises to the surface, while lies hook into our emotional dances with each other, and they end in breaking the circle of trust.
Think about it—you might love the friend who told you a white lie to make you feel better, and appreciate the care, but the truth is that you learn to doubt everything else after that. Even more wasteful, we learn to accept half-hearted friendships. We identify the cues they use when they lie to us, and then perpetuate the cycle by avoiding telling the truth about it, which is that they lie.
For example, a person might express interest in doing something together with a friend, and usually our friends want to because they love us, and want to motivate us with their enthusiasm. But, perhaps they really don’t want to. Instead of saying, “I love you and I want to motivate you with my enthusiasm, but the truth is that I am not ready to do this” they lie, and tell you over and over that they want to do this.
Then we waste more time: reality speaks for itself, and nothing gets done. The friend offers many reasons for why they haven’t done what was so enthusiastically offered, and not knowing how to end the cycle, the conversation again goes back to how much they do want to do this! Still, nothing gets done at all.
This can continue for months—until a silent agreement that it just isn’t happening allows you both to continue being friends anyway.
Perhaps people lie not because we haven’t learned how to say the truth, but because we haven’t learned to listen to the truth. So when our friend tells us that they aren’t interested, we react with hurt, or we guilt our friend into feeling forced to act, against their own volition.
To tell the truth is one of the noble paths toward enlightenment. More than a path, It is a requirement. Without truth, there is no insight; without truth, illusion takes over. Without truth, you deny yourself and others the opportunity to see clearly. And a clear mind is a peaceful mind.
Next time you want to tell a white lie, think about this: are you helping your friend by denying the truth? Or are you letting your friend build castles in the air, based on what you don’t know how to say?
And when someone tells you the truth, think about this: are you helping anyone by denying the other the opportunity to tell the truth?
Let it not be our fear of seeing things as they are that motivates us to lie. Remember, when we die, every lie we have told will all come to us as we are crossing the bardos hoping to see the light. The common truth shared by those who have been close to dying is that they wish they hadn’t wasted so much time.
Here are five ways to speak the truth:
1. Say what you mean. Use your words with awareness. Every word means exactly what it says. Don’t use one word to say another. Only by being clear will you allow others to think clearly.
2. Mean what you say. Speak from your heart, and as the heart goes, speak with love even when what you must speak is unloving. Understand that uncomfortable moments are usually how we learn who we are. Truth is truth—it always gives you the opportunity to move on and consciously change.
3. Think before speaking. Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it needed? The ripples of your sound do shake the energy of others. Keep to yourself what benefits no one.
4. Listen with an open heart. Be open to the truth. Let go of your assumptions. Be quiet and allow others to have space to tell you the truth.
5. Appreciate the truth, and most of all appreciate the truth-teller. Those who tell the truth give and receive the gift of freedom.
Author: Yesica Pineda
Image: Ben White/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman