Monday, May 17, 2010

Who Do Your Lies Really Hurt?

Richard Nixon once said, "If you are ever going to lie, you go to jail for the lie rather than the crime. So believe me, don't ever lie." Boy, did he know what he was talking about. It was the cover-up that got him in trouble, not so much the crime.

This pretty much applies to anybody. When do we really get mad at someone? It's seldom for anything they did. Nope, it's because they tried to hide from us what they did.

So, I've been thinking today about lies again. Yes, I've blogged about them here and here.

The more "sober time" I get, the more I realize that lies wind up hurting us most times more than they actually hurt others, so it makes very little sense to lie at all. (The occasional "moral" exception can be all right, but be prepared to live with the consequences of your lie. At least be aware of what you're doing. I could easily live with lying to the Nazis about Anne Frank hiding upstairs in my attic. I choose those consequences. I can't easily live with lying to my wife that I'm sneaking drinks when she's at work. Even if I get away with it, the lie itself will ruin me. You're only as sick as your secrets.)

That's a hypothetical--I'm not sneaking drinks, y'all.

Working on my Fourth Step this morning, I was struck, when unraveling the dynamics of a past relationship with someone who is very close to me now (hi, Your Awesomeness! Yup, I'm writing about YOU today)...I was struck by how many lies were involved among no fewer than three of us when our original relationship went south so many years ago. I was lying by omission by not telling Her Awesomeness some things a third party had done, but the third party had forbidden Her Awesomeness to discuss the situation with me because she knew I knew the tremendous secret she was protecting; meanwhile, Her Awesomeness had been keeping secret from me the nature of her involvement with the Third Party. LOL!

How silly the whole thing. Had Ms. Third Party simply been honest with Her Awesomeness at the very beginning, none of the other lies would have ever occurred. That's how lies are. You start rolling the snowball down the hill--and here's the key thing--it's not just YOUR lies being added to the original snowball. Other people are drawn in and wind up adding to the snowball too. At the very least, they're just misinformed, so they pass on the lie unintentionally. And then there's a huge honkin' snowball that's rolling over everybody.

So when you're tempted to tell an untruth, examine your motives. If you're lying because you want to rationalize a bad behavior, that should tell you something. If you're lying because you want to protect someone from the truth, are you positive you're not actually doing them more harm than good? If you're lying because you don't want to suffer the consequences of a bad behavior, are you sure suffering the consequences won't actually be preferable to suffering the consequences of the lie?

Lies betray trust, tell others that you haven't learned from a mistake, and involve others in your bullshit. When you lie to yourself and pass those lies along, you are denying who you really are and are keeping the world from knowing the real you. That doesn't serve them and worse, this selfish motive for lying is the very thing that's hurting you. When you lie, you're taking a shit on your own reputation.

Bottom line: it's rare that a lie is ever worth it.

We all agree with that. We learned that from our mommies and daddies.

So live it.

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