LIES AND CHEATING, AND WHY AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© June 2014, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
This article concerns integrity, and the consequences of lying, stealing, gossiping, spreading false rumors or mistreating people in any way at all. The main point of the article is if you want to stay safe, do not lie, steal or otherwise mistreat people. Here is what happens when you lie to yourself or worse, to others.
1. It has a way of coming back on you. Sometimes it comes back on you ten times worse, in fact.
2. It can easily become a habit. After the first time, it can seem easier and easier to do it again. Even if it does not become a habit, however, one mistake can ruin your life.
3. It can destroy your health. You may think, that is silly, how can it hurt my health? The way it works is this. When you lie to yourself and others, you are putting yourself in a conflict. Conflict upsets the body very much. The body is meant to work as a unit or an integrated organism. So when you are not honest, or you steal from others, you set up what might be called cross-currents or eddie currents in your brain. These are like mini-traumas that you impose on yourself, in fact. This upsets digestion, upsets elimination and does the same to many other functions of the body as well. Often, lying makes it harder to rest and sleep, for example, because you just canÕt relax as well.
4. It puts you at odds with your Creator, who knows exactly who you are and all that you have done. This often causes a guilty conscience and upsets the mind very badly.
5. It has a way of separating you from the company of good people and causing other liars and cheats to come into your life.
6. Lying to yourself and others ruins relationships and trust from others. This is always harmful and leaves you very lonely, unhappy and with few if any real friends who can trust you and therefore whom you can trust.
7. Lying is lonely, basically. You find you must not tell anyone the truth, and this is rather sad not to be able to share all your life with others.
8. Lying and cheating separate you from God. I said this earlier but it is so important I will say it again.
9. Lying, in particular, can be extremely dangerous. Imagine if your hand, which has sensors in it to tell you if you put it on something too hot, for example, lied to you and told you it was not too hot. You could easily lose your hand. While this analogy is crude, the same principle applies. If you lie to others, or even to yourself, when a real emergency arises and you need people to listen to you and take action, they are much less likely to do so if they know you are dishonest or a cheater. This is like the Òboy who cried wolfÓ when there was no wolf. As a result of his lies, on the day there was a wolf at the door, no one believed his cry and he was killed.
Lying and cheating, or even keeping secrets also opens you up to blackmail. You never know if someone will find out about your crime, basically, and will tell the authorities or will extort money or blackmail you. This means that they will tell you that they will report your crime and ruin your life unless you pay them a lot of money, or if it is a woman, you will have to have sex with the blackmailer whenever he wants it, or your child will have to have sex with the person doing the extortion. This may sound farfetched, but it happens all the time.
The way it often happens is that either you or someone else who knows the truth gets a little drunk or high one night and tells someone about how much fun it was to lie or cheat. Someone overhears the conversation and you are in big trouble.
10. Your body is like a cybernetic information system. That is, it depends on truthful information flow to work flawlessly. Society, by the way, is similar. If you lie or cheat, it is like putting false information into the system. You may think your little secret lies donÕt do much, but it is a complex system, and when combined with those of others, the entire system of society begins to break down. This is exactly what happens in dictatorships, and socialist nations. The society is based on cheating, stealing and lying, and as a result it works inefficiently, unfairly, and poorly.
HOW TO AVOID LYING, CHEATING AND STEALING
There will always be temptations to be dishonest, secretive, and cheating. Society is full of opportunities of this kind, sadly. The best anyone can do is to shun temptations. Think of them as the devil dangling a carrot in front of your face and hoping you will bite.
In practice, this means try to avoid all temptations to make quick or easy money, to gain friendship without having to earn it, or to gain any advantage of any kind in any way other than through hard work and earning whatever it is you want.
For example, you may be tempted to cheat on exams in school, or cheat at your work. ÒFriendsÓ or even the boss may tell you that everyone does it, and the chances of getting caught are very small. They may tell you that it is worth cheating because you will get promoted, or make more money, or get into a better college. These are temptations, however, and too often, they are lies. Even if they are true, you will have to live with yourself for the rest of your life, knowing you did not deserve that promotion or college, and wondering if somehow you will get caught, embarrassed and perhaps lose your job or position. Even worse, as mentioned above, you open yourself to blackmail, extortion and other horrible possibilities.
I know it can hurt if, for example, you know that someone else cheated and lied their way into a job, a college, or perhaps a relationship while you told the truth and did not seem to succeed as well. The injustice and unfairness can seem intolerable and seems to make no sense. However, stay with the truth, and stay with decency, full integrity, taking full responsibility for your behaviors including your mistakes. It pays off, often in unusual ways.
HOW CAN IT PAY OFF TO TELL THE TRUTH WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS LYING?
It pays off because you attract better people and better situations into your life. People may decide to offer jobs to you because you have integrity. They may offer you more responsible positions, more money, and maybe more love because they know they can trust you with it. It can pay off in hundreds of subtle ways.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU STUMBLE AND LIE, STEAL OR CHEAT IN SOME WAY
The first thing is to admit is quickly to yourself. In other words, do not hedge or make excuses. Realize that you have slipped from your throne of integrity and, to use a religious phrase, you have committed a sin of some kind. This just means you have missed the mark.
Then I suggest you tell the person you have wronged as soon as possible, and apologize sincerely and deeply. You can ask for forgiveness if you wish, but I would not bother. If the person you wronged is a good person, he or she will find it in the heart to forgive as much as possible. Do not wait and let it slide, as many people do. You may also ask God for guidance as to what you should do to make up for it, and how to avoid it in the future. For example, if it is a minor thing, it may be best to just let it go and donÕt do it again.
Know that in some cases, the person you wronged such as your boss or your teacher, or a friend or parent, perhaps, knows what you did. He or she may be waiting for you to come forward and come clean. Or he or she may not want to confront you directly, but would appreciate an apology. Particularly in these cases, admitting your lie or cheat is very good. It will build your relationship nicely, as it can build trust.
Unfortunately, some children get punished for telling the truth, so they learn that lying is better. This is not a good way to raise children. The rule should be that if someone admits to a mistake or lie, it softens the crime or sin. Doing something wrong, and then lying about it, however, adds a second mistake to the first one. That is how it should be explained to your children, your employees, your friends, and anyone else you are in touch with.
Everyone, by the way, makes mistakes, takes the easy way out at times, and most everyone hurts others, at times. The difference between people is how they handle it when they find out just what they have done and how it affects others. Try to be repentant, apologize to others, make good if you cheat someone, and learn from your mistakes so you donÕt keeping making the same mistake over and over.
If this sounds humbling, it is. It is not fun to have to admit you were a rat. It is okay to feel like you are a nasty, horrible person sometimes. It can be good for the soul once in a while to keep it humble and learning. DonÕt wallow in it. Just realize you were tempted and you fell to temptation. Admit it, repent, make good as much as possible, and move on. Roy Masters, one of my teachers, says that sometimes you have to fall apart so that God can put you together correctly. I think this is very true.
Excuses. Millions of people live from one excuse to the next. They rationalize their behaviors and their actions in often amazingly clever and maybe intellectual ways. It does not matter. They are still wrong, and hurting themselves and others. Do not make excuses for your mistakes and lies, as it is a very bad habit that takes you much further away from your Creator and from real love of self. Making excuses, like not apologizing and making good, adds a second misstep to the first one – the lie or stealing or cheating.
Also do not make excuses for others whom you know are not living in integrity. Preferably, separate yourself from them because you can be guilty by association.
Also, do not lie to yourself or others again by telling yourself that all is well, when it is not. Lies you tell tend to make you sick inside, and telling yourself that it is okay does not change things one bit. In fact, it can make it worse. Instead, hold yourself to high standards – higher than others, in fact – and try to live in integrity. See the article entitled Integrity for more on this important subject.