I don’t know about you, but when I have to deal with someone who is being intentionally dishonest, it generally makes me angry. My reaction is anger, but what I am feeling is hurt and betrayed. What have I
done to deserve this dishonesty? Not a single thing. I’d rather be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie.
Abraham Lincoln gave sage advice when he said: “…resolve to be honest at all events…”
What matters to me is not the strength of the lie or the horror of the truth. It’s not the insignificance of the lie or the inconsequence of the truth. What matters to me is that the teller does not think enough of me to tell me the truth. Worse, because the intention was to deceive me, I know that I should no longer trust the teller. Without trust, I have less respect for the teller. Our relationship is weakened.
When the Truth Kills a Relationship
Years ago I was told a whopper of a tale. That lie was perpetrated for many years and had enormous repercussions. During the time I lived within the lie, I believed myself to have a satisfying life. When I learned the truth, my trust in the teller was shattered. Without a commitment to live without deception, there was no foundation left upon which to rebuild. Consequently, the relationship was destroyed.
I made the choice to close that chapter and move forward in a new direction, free of the illusions of the lie.
Deliberate falsehoods don’t have to be major or sustained like in my situation to cause damage. Small lies, those that we dismiss as a step or two above white lies, can be just as harmful. (White lies are those where truth is a matter of perception or belief, not fact.) Often, these small lies are told when the truth is already suspected and owning up to it would strengthen the relationship.
Over time, these little lies chip away at the trust and respect that underpin the relationship. Abraham Lincoln understood this. He lived his life as honestly as possible. Those around him said he could not adequately defend a person whose cause he did not support.
Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. ~ Abraham Lincoln
When I have evidence that proves I have been deceived, I recognize I have a choice: to see myself as a victim, or be an adult who faces reality — this person is lying to me. This person is not capable of being truthful about this situation at this time.
The Key to Accepting What Is
I find that being honest with myself about what is happening is the key to accepting what is. In giving honest expression to the situation, I release the safety value on my feelings of hurt and betrayal and the anger harmlessly escapes.
Truth and honesty are two sides of the same coin. When we share honest information, we open the door to true conversation. Those who are closest to me know that above all else, I value their honesty. I tell my friends, I don’t care what you’ve done or how bad you think things are, just don’t lie to me. If you cannot be honest with me in our relationship, then do not be in a relationship with me.
I value honesty so much that I made it my Sixth Amendment: the right to be Honest with myself and others.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Dishonesty in our relationships happens when we’re afraid to disappoint others or we want to avoid the consequences of the truth. I want to be known for my honesty. What about you? Are you known for being honest? How do you handle it when others deliberately deceive you?