Many of us tell small lies to avoid conflict, consequences and judgment. When your partner asks whether the blouse you're wearing is new, you tell a little white lie to avoid a conflict about finances. No, this blouse isn't new, I've had it for years, you say, when in fact you bought it last week. You didn't get to the cleaner today but want to avoid the judgment about your failure to take responsibilities seriously, so you fib, I had to work through lunch today, when in fact, you had lunch with your sister. It seems easier to avoid the discussion of your drinking by saying you had 2 and not 6 beers with your friends.
Ironically, in our efforts to avoid conflict, we just end up creating more conflict. When the credit card bill finds its way to your partner's hands first, how else do you explain the charge, even if it is only TJ Maxx? Perhaps you compound it by adding another lie about how you bought something for one of the kids. Then you're in a fix when asked to produce it, leading to more conflict. And if you do get away with it, then you have the stress of keeping the lies straight, telling the same lies to everyone and making sure the friend who was with you when you bought the blouse doesn't mention it when you're all having dinner.
When it comes to bigger lies, we're usually avoiding bigger conflicts, more significant consequences and harsher judgments. We lie to cover up transgressions like drug, food or spending binges, affairs or even something like losing a job. Inevitably, the lies catch up with us and we must accept the consequences, which often increase exponentially as a result of the cover-up. These bigger lies may lead to the demise of important relationships.
If the moral benefits of telling the truth don't impress you, here are some concrete benefits:
• Less conflict in your day
• Less stress in your life
• Better health and mental health, including happiness
• Healthier, happier relationships
• Greater trust from the people you care about, including your kids
What we know is that lying leads to conflict, conflict leads to stress and stress leads to health and mental health problems. In one study people who lied less realized that many of the lies they told were completely unnecessary. You will probably notice the same thing when you start telling the truth and stop even the small, seemingly unimportant lies. Even if you find it a bit difficult at first, it's a lot easier to be truthful than you may think. Ultimately, honesty is simpler and far more rewarding.