One of kids’ favorite things to tattle on is liars. I know this because I used to be a teacher, and liars ranked right up there with tattlers among people my students despised.
We know it’s wrong to lie. We know this even as young children. But as adults, what about all the times we lie to ourselves? How do we excuse that? How come we know it’s wrong to lie to other people, and we do our bests not to do it, yet we lie to ourselves on a daily basis?
Because lies are comfortable. They’re softer than the truth. They don’t hurt feelings, until people know they’re lies.
“I don’t have time.”
“I can’t afford that.”
“I can’t do it.”
“I don’t have time” is really a fancy lie. When you tell someone, “I don’t have time to hang out”, you’re actually saying, “I’d have to move some things around in order to be able to hang out, and I don’t want to.” Try saying that and see how it feels. And when you say, “I don’t have time to go to the gym,” you’re really saying the same thing you said to your friend. “I don’t have time” boils down to priorities, not time. You think you have any more or less time than anyone else? You don’t. Same time, every single day, for every single human.
“I can’t afford that” is a lie we love to tell. I love it. I love when I get to cop out of drinks at a new bar in town by saying, “Nah I can’t afford that.” And I love that I can feel better about not buying concert tickets by saying, “I really can’t afford them.” It’s much easier than saying, “I have the money, but I really don’t want to spend it on alcohol” or “I have the money, but I would rather buy a new pair of running shoes with it.” “I can’t afford it” is easy, safe, classic. All the things a lie needs to be to be believed.
“I can’t do it” is a lie for so many different truths. My mom doesn’t download her pictures from her phone to her computer because she “can’t do it”. What she really means is, she “doesn’t know how to do it”. But we’d literally rather lie than admit ignorance. When we look at someone else’s art we admire and think, “yeah but I can’t do that”, what we often really mean is, “I’m too afraid to try that, because it might not look like that one, and then I’ll end up feeling disappointed in myself.” “I can’t do it” is easy because it eliminates trying, and when we eliminate trying, we also eliminate failure. Or so we think. But not trying is also a failure.
The problem with lies is not that they aren’t true, it’s that we believe they are true, even when it’s us who is telling the lies to ourselves. Speak precisely, and be honest with yourself. While we’re all looking around for who else is lying, let’s call ourselves out for lying ask what the truth is with ourselves a little more often.