“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
It needs no definition – you know what I’m talking about. They’re the little untruths we tell ourselves and everyone else that keep us from living an authentic life. We think our little lies are harmless because they’re not actually hurting anyone – but when we look closer, we see that’s not true.
When we don’t or we believe that we can’t be truly honest, we lose our integrity. When what we do is out of synch with what we believe, we block our blessings. When we aren’t comfortable just being ourselves, we deny ourselves the ability to show up – in our own skin – and share our gifts. At best, this shakes our confidence and at worst, it depletes our soul. We may not be hurting anyone else, but we’re certainly doing damage to ourselves.
Let’s talk about what living in little white lies may look like:
Maybe you overextended yourself and signed-up to volunteer for too many functions at church or your kid’s school. You’re feeling overwhelmed and know that you just do not want to do one more thing tonight. Maybe it’s been a particularly long day. But rather than tell the truth you say that your child is sick or your car broke down and that’s the reason you can’t meet your commitment. Unfortunately, you’re chipping away at your integrity. The reason you would tell that lie is because either:
• You are uncomfortable saying, “no,” (which is probably what got you overextended in the first place,) or
• You are afraid that if you told people the truth, they might think less of you; possibly even losing your “volunteer princess” crown in their eyes.
Maybe when it was time to terminate a team member’s employment with the company, you chose to pass-the-buck and blame it on your boss, rather than owning your decision, providing honest feedback and giving that person the opportunity to improve for their next role at their next place of employment.
Maybe the little lies show up in your relationships with people or money. We probably all know people who are dishonest with their money, hiding purchases or pretending like they have more than they do through purchases they can’t afford. Or, have you ever told a friend a little lie because you didn’t want to hurt her feelings? Maybe a friend asked you today, “How are you?” and you said “fine,” but you weren’t and you chose to hide how you’re really feeling.
The lies we tell ourselves carry the most damage. Maybe you long for achieving a goal in your life, like graduating college, or making partner in your firm or having a child or losing 25 pounds or finding a life partner, but you think, “I can’t ever do or have that. Other people can, but I can’t.”
Seems harmless enough, doesn’t it?
We tend to forget about ourselves in that equation and the damage we’re inflicting on our own souls. These little white lies tell our hearts that we’re not enough – just as we are. Our fears tell us that we need to put on a mask to the rest of the world because we wouldn’t be accepted otherwise. These little deceits slowly chip away at the love and trust in our most important relationships. We do this until what’s left is someone we don’t recognize or like very much when we stand in our own presence.
Living authentically is a gift that only we can give to ourselves. Removing the mask frees us, not anyone else. Living a life of integrity armors us with the confidence and freedom we need to face our fears. And when we begin standing in our truth, we begin to invite abundance into our lives. And the world is then graced with all the precious gifts you – and you alone – were created to give.