Should I Tell the Truth? 3 Questions to Determine When to Be Honest

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Should I Tell the Truth? 3 Questions to Determine When to Be Honest

Adapted from Monica and Michael Berg’s Spiritually Hungry podcast. Listen and subscribe here.
March 4, 2024
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Is it always wrong to tell a lie? When faced with this question, a common response is that lying should be avoided at all costs and that being honest is the right and moral thing to do. The reality is that always telling the truth is not a spiritual rule. In fact, lying has a time and place. There are right ways and reasons to tell a lie, and the right kind of lying can actually foster connection between people.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to determine when to be honest and when to bend the truth:

1. Are you being honest with yourself? Self-reflection helps guide you on when to be honest with others.

One of the most difficult things in life is to be truthful with ourselves. The lies we tell ourselves are much more damaging than the lies we tell other people. These lies we believe make it harder to decipher when to be honest with others. 

One major lie we often tell ourselves is that the spiritual work we are doing is good enough. Each one of us is so powerful, and our Light is so strong that no matter how much good we are doing or how much we have developed, we are not even close to reaching our potential. When we start telling ourselves that the spiritual work we are doing is good enough, it is a lie that prevents us from pushing ourselves to the extent we need. 

We also lie to ourselves when we believe we need others to approve of us or to think of us in a certain way. This lie changes the way we behave, causing us to try and please other people at the expense of living authentically and in alignment with our soul. 

Another lie we tell ourselves is about what is most important in our lives. This can cause us to devote too much of our time, energy, and brain power to the areas of our lives that are less powerful and transformative.

When you live a life of truth with yourself, you naturally lie less, and when you do, it is for the right reasons. Taking time to have honest conversations with yourself and realign your intentions is a powerful way to start living authentically. From this place, you can start to determine how to best interact with others. 

2. Does the lie benefit you in some way? If so, it’s better to be truthful.

There are generally two types of lies we tell: lies that benefit others and lies for our own gain. Most of us lie to make ourselves look better or because it’s more comfortable to tell the lie than the truth. These types of lies are really about making ourselves feel better from a place of ego and not about what is best for the other person. 

If we want to live honestly, get curious about why you are lying. Is it to avoid unpleasant conflict, to be liked, to be respected, or to avoid embarrassment? Or is it to help, protect, support, or share with someone else? There is a reason behind every one of our little fibs. Be diligent in discovering your intentions. If the lie benefits you in some way, it’s best to be honest. On the other hand, if it’s for the benefit of the other person, there’s a likelihood that lying is actually the right thing to do. 

3. Are you being honest at the cost of being kind? It’s better to choose kindness over harsh truth. 

Very often, people who seek to be honest do so at the expense of being kind and compassionate. “Speaking my truth” is often synonymous with “I’m going to be mean.” It serves as an excuse for the inappropriately harsh things someone is about to say. This kind of blunt honesty can often do more damage than any benefit of the truth.

The raw and honest truth can sometimes inhibit someone else’s growth. Tough love or brutal honesty can be detrimental. Put yourself in the position of the other person. Is this going to upset them so much that the pain is more overwhelming than the lesson? Shame or embarrassment can affect them much worse for the rest of their lives. 

Before sharing your truth, ask yourself, “Have I taken the time to really feel and assess how the other person is going to receive this or how much damage this could do to them? Is the message so important that I must deliver it honestly?” If you have to choose, choose kindness over truth. 

When it comes to honesty, it’s not simply that lying is wrong and telling the truth is always the right thing to do. There are definitely times when one should not lie, and there are times when one should. When it comes to telling lies that benefit ourselves, we can all do well to move closer to being truthful. Consider whether you are seeking to gain or give with your lie and whether or not you are sacrificing kindness for honesty. The more truthful and in touch you are with yourself, the better you will be able to gauge how to interact with others and to speak with intention. 

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