- "My diet starts tomorrow"
- "I'm not drunk"
- "He's just a friend"
- "I like my job"
- "I'll call you"
- "I love you"
- "I'm just tired"
Sounds innocent. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I think it's a tricky and revealing topic to look at. Telling LWL's is so common; it's something that we do all the time. Have you ever looked at why, though?
Me neither. But this came up for me in conversation recently, and I've been cross examining it ever since. I was out with some friends in a loud bar, with loud music, which means there was alcohol and dancing involved. Someone asked me if I'd been to someplace (that sounded really familiar) with Hudson in the title. In my head I thought: "Have I? Sounds familiar. Are we thinking the same place? How many could there be? Hmm, don't really remember; don't really care. Ah, whatever."
"Yeah." I said.
"You have? It was around in the early 2000's, though."
...When in fact I would have been in upstate NY for school. And right there I knew I was "caught". But wait a sec? Am I a fraud? Why did I really say yes?!
I saw two things happening here. The first was my inconspicuous need (/desire) to keep the conversation going without jarring it's natural flow of wherever it was headed. It was more valuable to me to toss out a meaningless "yes" to keep the conversation going, than to cause a disruption. Sure, one could argue that there is some element of being polite there, but what if there was something new, some new possibility on the other side of that speed bump?
The other thing I noticed was that I found it to be deflection away from myself. There was a shame or embarrassment around "not knowing". Then I looked at it like what's the worst that could happen if "I don't know" this? I learn something new!? Wow, someone call the cops!
So, stepping back and looking at conversations as a whole, it's really not that talk is cheap, it's that people cheapen talk. We say a lot of things that we don't mean so we can maintain the status quo, or protect ourselves from being exposed. There's a probable side effect to the little white lie, also. What if they eventually keep adding up, growing bigger and bigger, and create a snowball effect of lies?
Before you get to that point, ask yourself these questions from time to time:
- Why am I lying to myself?
- What's the impact on me when I do that?
- Why am I lying to the people around me?
- What's the impact on them (familiar person or not)?
To dig a little deeper, a little white lie is not the same as deception. In order to deceive someone you'd have to know the truth and then say the opposite. And to lie you'd have to convince someone of the opposite. But if you already know the truth, you can't convince yourself of the opposite of what you know to be true.
So, am I ordering you to stop telling LWL's? No. Am I saying it's a cruel, wrong, or bad thing to do? No. It's all part of the human experience and I'm just simply shining a light on it. For some people, it might even be a blind spot.
The truth is liberating.