Is it OK to Tell a Lie? 3 Ways to Know When Honesty is Truly the Best Policy

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Is it OK to Tell a Lie? 3 Ways to Know When Honesty is Truly the Best Policy

Adapted from Monica and Michael Berg’s Spiritually Hungry podcast. Listen and subscribe here.
January 10, 2022
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Truth and honesty are topics that have long been debated among scholars, sages, and philosophers. Some believe it is never ok to lie, while others believe there is a time and place for the truth.

Despite the spectrum of opinions, the reality is that we all tell lies to some degree. Sometimes they’re little white lies, and other times, they’re self-serving fabrications. It begs the question: Can lying ever be the rightthing to do?

Here are 3 ways to determine when honesty is truly the best policy:

1. Start by being truthful with yourself. More dangerous than any lie we can tell is for us to actually live a lie. Much of the angst we experience in life is because we have lied to ourselves and believe the lie to be truth. Sometimes we are scared of the truth or believe it is more painful than the lie. Most of us don’t even realize we are lying to ourselves. It becomes easier and easier to hold onto our false understandings as time goes on because it’s what we have always done.

To be a deeply spiritual person, one must be based in truth, but it starts internally first and externally second. Until we have honestly and deeply dealt with the lies that we tell ourselves, we cannot fix the world’s lies. The biggest lie that we tell ourselves is that it matters what others think of us. We falsely believe that people must like us, no matter what. By living that lie, we steal from ourselves, depriving ourselves of goodness and joy.

Ask yourself: how much of what I say or do is because I want others to like me? What would I say or not say and do or not do if I really wasn’t seeking their approval?

2. Consider erring on the side of kindness. Oftentimes, people decide they are going to tell everybody the truth, no matter what and use that as an excuse for blunt criticism, insult, or lack of empathy. Honesty can be the sharpest weapon you wield against someone with the power to impact someone for years. It’s easy to feel justified in the sake of truth, but if the consciousness behind what we say and do is not caring and kind, then it is not coming from a spiritual place.

There are no absolutes in life. There are times when not telling the truth is the right thing to do. Sometimes we need to step lightly to prevent someone from getting hurt or to bring people together. Other times we need to stand up for ourselves or for others by speaking the truth, even when it makes us uncomfortable. So how do we know when bending the truth is necessary? Kindness is the barometer: what is kind to you and to other people?

3. Understand that your words have power. When we lie, even if it’s a white lie, we exert our power and change someone else’s perception of reality. This is not something that should be taken lightly! Lying, especially to people we love, creates a ripple effect that we don’t always see. It can change your relationship with yourself and with everyone else. The more you lie, the more it becomes part of who you are.

We live in a world of lies. Our eyes play tricks on us, we misremember things, and we believe many falsehoods. That is the nature of the physical world. The wisdom of Kabbalah refers to truth as the signature of the Creator. If a person is a liar who willfully, purposefully lies for their own gain, not for the benefit of others, then the Light of the Creator cannot rest within them. Two opposite realities cannot exist at the same time: if a person is a person of falsehood and lies and the Light of the Creator is truth, then a person full of lies cannot have a meaningful connection to the Light of the Creator. That only limits our blessings, joy, and fulfillment.

If a lie feels necessary, ask yourself: what is the ultimate goal of the lie? Is it to bring love and peace between people or for your own gain?

Living a truthful life doesn’t mean that you are honest 100% of the time. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is bend the truth. Above all else, it is important that we are honest with ourselves and that we act and speak from a place of kindness. That is what connects us to the Light of the Creator and reveals blessings in the world.