This very poignant quote by William J.H. Boetcher is one of the hardest transformative platforms to build, develop and stand upon – the importance of truth.
That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.
Here in the USA . . .
The United States seems to have developed into a dangerously unhealthy “people-pleasing society“.
This form of “pleasing” has become socially expected and is frequently viewed as a proper form of conduct. There is a downside with the use of people-pleasing; we get pulled into an ever-expanding illusion of truth that does not exist. A society based on falsehoods is basically a dream-world. It becomes a place where absolute truth can never be shared because it must always be cloaked and diluted with lies to turn reality into a make-believe story that ensures all parties involved remain safe. This illusion of truth becomes the safe haven “people-pleasing” needs to protect the person sharing as well as the listener.
The consequence of using this form of “lying” sadly decreases the innumerable opportunities only truth can offer for personal transformation and growth. This directly affects all individuals, relationships, families, communities, states, countries, the planet, and the quantum universe we all exist in as a whole. Why do we do this? Usually to avoid judgement, alienation, ridicule, violence, shame, and bullying. We indiscriminately do this to ourselves and others. Lying used on a consistent basis physically and emotionally injures us. This easily leads to self-sabotage.
Life has no cognitive paradigms. Only on very rare occasions should absolute truth be watered down. When being truthful could endanger someone on a physical or emotional level, silence may very well be the best option, with the alternative choice being to simply say, “I’m not sure what to say at this moment”.
The Physical Side of Truth . . .
Generally speaking, honesty provides far more mental and physical health benefits than dishonesty. Constant lying manifests physical and emotional scars, a significant loss of mental clarity (from constant worry), anxiety, shame and depression, just to mentioned a few. But, alas, we are complicated creatures. We make complicated decisions every day. We sometimes find reasons to lie because they are necessary. We do tend to naturally find more reasons not to lie – as long as we feel safe. In fact, regardless of our best intentions, humankind will never become expert truth-tellers. The truth of what we experience changes from moment-to-moment. Memory is fickle at best and humans naturally love to embellish. Memories and/or stories, truthful or not, are both masterful forms of disguise with the power to do good as well as harm.
Significant opportunities exist while we are on the conscious path of enlightenment and transformation. An exceptionally valuable self-care habit to develop is to continually observe yourself – without judgement. Take a step back from yourself in your mind and watch out for those sneaky instances when you lie out of politeness and/or to preserve your own self-esteem, better known as ego. Then think about the long-term effects and not about how the lie will protect you or someone else. Remember, lying causes anxiety, depression and other physical illnesses – and exhaustion from a constant nagging fear of a lie being discovered. Maybe we cannot always tell the truth, but the more we do the healthier we become.
The Impolite Side of Polite . . .
A final thought regarding “lying to be polite”. A very wise individual once shared a profound thought with me. They said when one chooses to lie to make someone feel better, a huge disservice has been done to the individual – a potentially powerful moment of truthful reflection has basically been taken from them. The gift of truth was snatched away. That gift of truth could have produced an opportunity for the individual to reflect, grow and transform more fully into the authentically conscious person they can become. Instead, they will believe your lie, live within your lie, and the lie will live on. You actually hurt them.
Have the courage to speak the truth as much as possible. Allow yourself to be vulnerable by being honest. Brene Brown shares the following in her book, “Daring Greatly”, which sums everything up quite nicely.
Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage . . . I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen, honestly.
Hurt me with the truth; don’t comfort me with a lie.
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