Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment and acknowledge that at some point, or at many points in our lives, we’ve told a white lie.
Maybe you weren’t completely honest with your doctor about your daily habits, maybe you told a friend that their outfit was stylish (even if it wasn’t!) and most of all you weren’t going to be the one to tell your children that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were all fake, were you?
Regardless of the situation, at the moment of the lie, you felt you were doing the right thing, and most of all you weren’t going to be the enemy.
Lies can be innocent and they can get quite large, but either way, they’re hurting your health. Those snippets of fiction you tell others may temporarily put you in their good books, but over time they send your own health to the dog house.
Honesty is the best policy
If you look up the definition of a lie in the dictionary you would get statements like making an untrue statement with the intent to deceive or to create a false or misleading impression. Clearly the definition of a lie itself portrays a negative connotation.
When we lie we are concealing the truth in order to become more liked. After all, everyone wants to be liked and no one wants to hear negative feedback. It’s all about protection, but really lying sets you up to build distance, not closeness.
As we continue to lie over time, and perhaps more frequently, isolation starts to set in and this can be followed by feelings of guilt and anxiety. Worse yet, if you must continue a lie your brain will be working into overdrive to remember who you told what to and when. That can weigh heavily on a person.
The University of Notre Dame presented a study to the American Psychological Association about lying and our health. In the study, participants were asked to be more truthful and not partake in minor or major lies. The other group had no instructions to follow and simply went on with their lives.
What the researchers uncovered was that the group instructed not to lie reported better mental health and fewer physical complaints – such as headaches, sore throats or feelings of sadness. These individuals also felt they had improved their relationships with others and could interact easier, with less stress.
Reduce stress and tell less lies
There can be a large amount of stress involved in lying. You have to ensure the lie is believable, that the person buys the lie, and that you can recall it later down the road. Even more so, though, you have to live with the fact that you weren’t truthful, that how you really feel has been hidden and that can lead to guilt along with anxiety if the lie becomes known.
Stress and anxiety are major players when it comes to poor health. Stress, in particular, can take a toll on your health leading to muscle tension, fatigue, irritability and anger. All factors which can harm your social relationships.
Stress and anxiety can also lead to social isolation as well as depression which greatly affects both mental and physical health alike. Therefore, the easiest way to reduce unnecessary stress is to express how you really feel when the situation arises and avoid the lies – unless your grandchild is asking about the Tooth Fairy, of course!
So if you find yourself “extending the truth” or covering up your own thoughts and feelings because you think you’ll become more liked, think again. Ongoing lies can get messy and can take a toll on your mind and body.
Why not take the minor blow and move on? Or better yet, you may find being honest is just what the other person really needed and will in fact bring the two of you much closer. Honesty builds trust, strong relationship ties and better health.
In our day to day lives, we all encounter some level of stress. Everyone has their own way to deal with this stress, like going for a walk, meditating or eating. Oftentimes eating can become comforting through times of high stress, but this, unfortunately, is not the best coping mechanism.
Even if you don’t live on a farm, there are many things that you can be stressed about. You can stress about your health, you can stress about your work, you can stress about your holidays, you can stress about paying the bills, about your mortgage, about your family. You can even stress about any bad thing that happens in your neighborhood or around the world.