Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements,” has, as one of his agreements, “Be impeccable with your word.” In a world where white lies and tricky truths run wild, this agreement can be far more difficult to adhere to than one might think. The ease with which many of us speak from a dishonest place is sad and unfortunate. We can train ourselves to lie upon command and never even give it a second thought. “How are you?” we’re asked. “Fine,” we reply — even though our dog just died, our child hates us and we’re facing a possible lay-off. Our friend asks if we want to go to the movies and we say we would love to, but can’t because we have too much work to do. Then we go to a different friend’s house or sit home watching TV for hours on end. We think these lies are kind — after all they’re done in the service of trying to look as if we have it all together, not hurting anyone’s feelings and avoiding uncomfortable situations. Even lying about having an affair can be sickly twisted in our heads as being the kind thing to do!
So . . . what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that lying is dishonest. Plain and simple, it’s out of integrity. Whenever we’re out of integrity, it harms us. It starts to chip away at our core and begins to change our path. Dishonesty, in particular, causes us to lose ourselves as well as lose others. People don’t like to be lied to — even on the smallest of scales — and when we lie to someone, we teach that person we can’t be trusted. Once we’re caught in one lie, we then have to go out of our way with most things we say, to get that same person to believe that we are true to our word — let alone “impeccable” with it. As we lie in one part of our lives, it becomes easier and easier to lie in another part. Rather than noticing that ick feeling that comes up with each lie we tell, we train ourselves to not even notice. We don’t notice how our face might get flush or how we get that anxious feeling as the lie rolls off our tongue. Soon we train ourselves to only feel the relief of not getting caught and may even brag or take pride in the fact that we can lie straight to another’s face and they have no idea. What used to be something we never wanted to do as a kid now becomes an everyday occurrence. And we barely blink an eye at it.
In my work with women and couples, I see people lie all the time. I’ve seen marriages ruined, friendships end and families pulled apart by lies, so I no longer for a moment believe that lies are “kind”— even when done with the best of intentions. Lies can be crazy-making to say the least. When you know in your gut that someone’s lying, yet they not only emphatically deny it when asked, they also do everything in their power to reassure you that you’re making things up — it’s crazy-making. It’s also mean, out of integrity and anything but nice.
Lying is harmful to your soul. The more lies you tell, the easier lying becomes. At some point, people in your life will stop questioning your lies and simply assume that most things you say are dishonest or half-truths. They’ll lose faith in you and won’t be able to tell when you’re being honest and when you’re not. Lying is not worth it. Be impeccable with your word — for your sake and the sake of those around you.
Challenge: Stop your knee-jerk response of justifying, speaking or defending lies. Commit to being impeccable with your word and begin to find your authentic self again.