Who hasn’t told a little white lie so you didn’t have to meet someone for lunch or go to a party? Actually, occasionally telling a white lie may be helpful when you are managing your interpersonal relationships. However, one of the fundamental aspects of healthy relationships is being able to trust and depend on the other person, so chronic lying can get you in trouble. In fact, excessive lying can be considered a character flaw.
When would it be OK to lie to someone? Here are a few instances when you can be perhaps justified to lie:
- If what you say would be downright hurtful, you may want to fudge the truth. “You have the cutest baby,” doesn’t hurt anybody, and it may be the nicer thing to say than to comment of the baby’s faults.
- If you’re asked how you’re doing and you say great, you are theoretically lying, if you’re worried about your hernia operation tomorrow. You just don’t feel like sharing because the information is too personal and invades your privacy.
The little white lie should have its roots in compassion and be motivated by kindness and humanity. In other words, it’s meant to disguise an awkward or uncomfortable discussion that ordinarily would lead to something insulting or cruel. When it is derived for no reason or based on a passive-aggressive desire to get back, it is no longer benign and you are heading into major problems.
Most people feel that lying is immoral and distasteful and that if you are lied to, it is a betrayal. With that in mind, do you find yourself stretching or falsifying the truth – once, twice, five times a day? Do you lie so much that you forget what you say and wind up lying some more? Are you actually lying to yourself about the true reasons for your occasional white lies? Do your lies cushion you from facing what’s truly going on?
Some people are wired differently which makes it easier for them to lie. Apparently, they have more white matter (connective tissue in the brain) and less grey matter (the material found in the prefrontal lobe of the cortex which helps you deal with moral issues). If you have more grey matter, you have more moral restraints and more tools to keep the impulse to lie under control.
So, where do you stand in the parameters of lying? Are you an occasional, situational liar, whose intent is not to hurt someone else, or are you a chronic, habitual liar, who lies for the sake of it?
“No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar,” says honest Abraham Lincoln. So be careful about who you are really deceiving, because you don’t want to destroy your moral integrity when no one believes what you say any more.