Thursday, June 07, 2012

tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

what is up with people? why do we constantly tell little white lies? and especially why do we tell little lies that people can easily check (sometimes just with their common sense) and know that they're not true? i do it myself. sometimes it's to protect someone's feelings, or to avoid telling a longer version of the story, because it seems like the truth won't really do any good or to protect myself and my own ego. but what seems to be common to all these little white lies is that some fear or other underlies them. fear of hurting someone, fear of rejection, fear of judgement, fear of inadequacy. you might say that little white lies are the key to the construction of our identity.

but what does it mean to have an identity that's full of little lies? the more i think about it, the more i think it's a bad thing.

just to take an example from my own life. when i left the board of the riding club a couple of months ago, i gave the excuse that i felt i was too busy getting my new business up and running and that i didn't have the time and energy to devote to it. while that was the truth, there was more to it than that. i could have easily found time and energy for it, even in the midst of my new business, if i felt that i was listened to and  respected and if i felt that everyone else who was involved was professional and knowledgeable. but the truth was, i thought that the chairman was plain and simple a fool - unprofessional and making the club look bad every time he opened his mouth or posted one of his misspelled missives on the club website. i disagreed with how he treated the kids in the club (shouting at them and threatening them) and how he allowed the club horses to be treated by one of the instructors. i didn't like that no one ever even said a simple thank you when i purchased a pony for the club's use. and then when that pony was mistreated, it was too much for me.  so i took my pony home and i left the board and in doing so, i only told part of the truth.  because i thought telling the whole truth of why i was leaving wouldn't do any good. i decided on behalf of these people that they wouldn't get anything out of knowing the truth.

and i've been so mad at myself ever since. it makes me uncomfortable every time i'm there and see those people - because i still harbor ill feelings that i didn't get the chance to clear out. and i perhaps also did them a disservice by not telling the truth and letting them learn from it or do with it whatever they would. i took away their chance to react and learn. so my little white lie - or more my half-truth, actually ended up negating everyone's chance to grow, including my own.

i'm going to really make an effort  to curb the totally unnecessary white lies (i'm a consultant, sorry, i can't do away with all of them) - especially the ones that make me feel bad in the long run.

what white lies do you tell? and how does it make you feel?

* * *

these introspective posts are part of a really great project that i'm working on. 
it has to do with this.
and i will tell you more about it soon.


will said...

I understand black and white (and excluding horrid, evil stuff) it seems most everything is a shade of gray.

Husserl wrote about stripping away reasons and rationales for an action to discover the primal, molar point from which a person's actions derive. It's a tough thing to do, being totally honest with one's self.

Sarah Anne said...

Sometimes I tell people I'm doing well when I'm not. It's just easier, you know?

Barb said...

Mostly it's to save someone's feelings. And my own. I remember when my now grumpy teenager was a crazy handful of a little boy. I used to say "Good Morning! I'm so happy to see you!" When I wanted to say "Couldn't you sleep in just this once?"

Sandra said...

First, let me say as someone who has spent a lifetime in the horse business: horse people are crazy. All of us, so when you feel sane, you know who you are dealing with are certifiable and trying to reason with them is true insanity. So don't spend too much time kicking yourself over that one. Been there, done that, never made a difference.

White lies are how we protect ourselves and others. If I were stupid enough to ask if my butt is big, you probably would not say yes. You'd say, no, it's really not. We would both know it is, but, you know......

Life is a series of white lies. I think harmless white lies. Black lies harm, white lies protect and cover. If you told me my butt is big, it wouldn't help me grow. My butt is doing that all on its own, thank you very much. But it could be hurtful, depending on who you are talking to and really would serve no purpose.

As far a horse club, forget about it. I go back to my first sentence; horse people are crazy. I believe this is a universal truth. Take a deep breath and repeat this as a mantra. You'll feel better.

Lynne said...

The problem with the 'white lies' is that they can become second nature. I am working now with a person who lies as a first option whenever she is confronted with anything. The frustrating thing is that the lies are usually very transparent. And the result is now that I do not believe anything she says.

Elizabeth said...

Sure you could have said something but you live in a small community, still needed the ridingfacility for your daughter and yourself, you are a newcomer and you are a foreigner. Pretty good reason to keep your mouth shut.

c is for cape town said...

I'm with Lynne, white lies lead to bigger lies and lying very easily becomes a habit. And trust is a very, very fragile thing.
I used to be a serial white-liar, but I took the immensely liberating decision a number of years ago not to lie anymore and it's been so good for me. I renewed that pledge once I had kids and promised myself I'll never lie to them. Even to questions like 'is the chocolate finished?', when it would be so much easier to just say yes, I steel myself and tell the truth. If I sound self-congratulatory I don't intend to, not lying is hard but the saying the truth will set you free is so, so true.
So however will shaking things off and moving on - leave the small-minded people at the pony club in your emotional dust, they don't sound like they deserve any more of your energy.

celkalee said...

I wondered where this introspection was coming from and/or going. I think most of us look at our behaviors now and then and try to sort out the negatives. I have one white lie I have told several times, it bothers me, for sure, but I am protecting someone who cannot protect themselves. I will continue to do it, it will continue to bother me but there you have it. I have been on a personal project for about a year to refrain from the little white lies, but human nature, being as it is, makes it impossible to totally purge the habit.

As for the horse people, as already posted, its a different world. I had a rude awakening there several years ago. I chose to not participate. "Friends" like that, I do not need. You did the right thing to extricate yourself. And as mentioned before, it would likely had made no difference anyway.