Do you know what happens when we tell a little white lie? That is, besides the rise in blood pressure and the “looking over your shoulder” part?
Is telling a little white lie as harmless as it seems? And are little white lies okay some of the time or not at all? Or does it depend on the circumstances?
When is a little white lie considered a necessary lie? What is meant by a necessary lie? This phrase was a new one for me, so if you don’t know that’s okay.
These are all good questions. Questions, I’m sure, some – or maybe many – of us have pondered at one time or another? Some of us may even know the answer to all of these questions without having to think too hard.
Let’s take the first question. What happens when we tell a little white lie? For starters, and on the one hand, we can save ourselves from what could be possible criticism, confrontation, or the truth. Then, on the other hand, we may have to live with the fear of being found out or with the heavy burden of guilt. That’s where the rise in blood pressure, sweaty palms, or constant looking over our shoulder comes into play.
So then, is telling a little white harmless if it saves us from pending doom? If the pending doom is a real threat, does this make the little white lie okay to tell? If we are raised that lies are bad, does telling a little white lie to save ourselves from a real threat, criticism, or a confrontation, then make it a necessary lie? How about to save someone’s feelings from being hurt?
I was recently introduced to the “necessary lie” by a work associate (not co-worker). I found the phrase quite interesting. Most especially, as like me, this person was raised that it is never right to lie. It seems that a necessary lie is a little white lie told to bring a desired result, deflect a situation, or save someone from hurt.
Because of being raised to be honest, I struggled for years with the lies which I told to save myself or someone else from harm. I struggled with the act of withholding truth from others for fear of being rejected, judged, or even accepted. Yes, I was raised to believe that withholding the truth is just as bad as an outright lie. I questioned if telling the truth seemed to bring worse consequences at a certain moment, then wouldn’t lying be the best course of action?
How about you? Have you struggled with the little white lie or from withholding truths when either of those might be considered a necessary lie or an act of saving face? Or even saving grace maybe? What have you resolved? Are you still struggling? Or have you figured it all out?
Obviously, I do not have all the answers. But I have learned a few things and have resolved what happens when little white lies become what we believe are necessary lies. These seemingly harmless little white lies can erode our integrity. When we use little white lies as a constant fallback or to save us from uncertain situations, it becomes a habit. Our minds reason that it is okay as long we are not hurting anyone. But we are hurting ourselves. We are cheating ourselves. From what, you ask. From a relationship with ourselves built on truth, justice, and integrity.
How is this, you ask. I have found that it is difficult to have a personal moral integrity that stands up for others, that seeks out right in the face of wrong, or that promotes good for all mankind when we are filled with inconsistencies. We must find that place within us that measures when it is better to be honest and face the music. We must become aware of how our little white lies affect us in regard to being honest. We must look within and find the best way to proceed rather than another little white lie. And then we must learn how we can avoid the need to lie at all.
Join me next month when I blog on “Integrity: Communicating With Honesty.”
Blogs are posted weekly, usually on Sundays, then the link is shared on other platforms including but not limited to Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook depending on the topic. Topics include: marriage, integrity, social media, and acceptance.
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“It is not what we profess in public, but where we walk and what we practice in secret that gives us integrity.” – Sir Francis Bacon