We are told from a young age to always tell the truth, regardless of circumstance or
consequence. While in childhood this teaches responsibility for one’s actions (“I broke the
window”, “I lost the ball”) and consequences are generally limited and doled out by parents,
adulthood brings a very thick seemingly-gray cloud to what was once a black and white issue.
Consequences are no longer just time-outs or groundings. There is no debating that telling the
truth can cost you deeply, but despite this, there are five strong reasons it remains the most
1. Trust. The ability to rely on someone is the foundation of any relationship - whether a spouse, employee, friend, or mentor, we all have expectations for the people in our lives. And while an expectation of perfection would be unrealistic and impossible to meet, a basis of trust is essential. Any kind of long-standing relationship with someone should allow for the shortcomings of the human race, and the knowledge that everyone makes mistakes in some capacity at one point or another. However, the ability to trust that someone will come to you, be honest, and do what they can to repair the situation and avoid future mistakes is what makes or breaks such relationships. To choose anything other than honesty is to sever this connection. It
also disables you from the ability to be authentic, which removes safety from the relationship. Simply put, healthy relationship without trust cannot exist.
2. Truth always comes out. This one is particularly important in light of the previous - if the truth were easy to hide, then trust could remain seemingly untouched, and no one would know that it had been broken. However, truth rarely stays quiet. Whether it makes itself known within hours, weeks, months, or years, it always comes out. And if it is revealed honestly, in humility, it will be far better received. For it to come out long after the fact, unwillingly, communicates not only a lack of willingness to take responsibility on the part of the one who concealed the truth, but a higher priority on oneself and one’s image over the well-being of the other party. Once that trust has been broken, it is very, very difficult and sometimes impossible to rebuild.
3. Guilt. Poet Nikita Gill writes, “Guilt is the worst demon to bear, strangling you from the inside of your body. Apologise. Make amends. Let go. Breathe free.” This is a far too accurate description of the feeling that comes from living a lie. Guilt is an all-consuming emotion, very difficult to outrun and easily causing complete debilitation. It is overwhelming, and usually becomes just too much to bear. The best way to deal with guilt is simply to tell the truth - while it may not disappear in an exact instant, the healing journey forward begins when things are brought out into the light. They lose their ability to haunt you when you accept responsibility and own your life.
4. It’s Easier. Trying to conceal the truth about something is rarely an easy one-and-done process. Hiding the truth is still lying, and lies very rarely stay contained. One more conversation, false explanation, added details, etc. becomes a messy web all too quickly. Not only will you continue to make things worse for yourself, but it’s simply not easy to keep up with. It is so much better to come clean before things get complicated. You save yourself from a lot of stress, and despite potential immediate consequences, in the long run will receive respect for having the courage to do so.
5. It’s the Most Respectful and Kindest Thing to do. This is the most counter-intuitive and yet the most important on this list, because this has nothing to do with holding onto what you have or getting ahead in life, but rather everything to do with character and kindness. If you are outright lying or concealing information, the reality is that you are depriving someone of making educated decisions about their own life and who plays what role in it. Even if the truth will hurt someone, it is simply basic respect to share it and allow them to choose what to do with it. It comes down to this: being honest can be terrifying. It can be full of uncertainty and unknown consequences. Without it, however, you cannot live an authentic life. It will deprive you and others of honest relationships, and respect and trust cannot be present without it. Fighting the fear to push through it is worth it, and will gain you respect and help you to avoid making mistakes in the future.
Be bold. Be honest. And live free.
- Anika Green