“The most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves.”
Friction is a part of life. Sometimes it surfaces in our relationships – with our family, our friends, coworkers and even with those in the restaurants and behind the counters of the establishments we frequent. There are gaps between what we want and what we get, or what others expect or need from us and what they get. And though potentially difficult, friction is also a necessity. It is an agent for change.
When a car moves down the street, and something gets in the way or the directions call for a left or right, the driver turns the wheel and it is the friction between the rubber tires and the road which take the vehicle on it’s new intended course. But anyone who has driven on ice knows what happens when a slick, lubricated surface undermines that friction. You keep sliding in the same direction despite a desperate need for change. It can be very scary.
The same is true in our lives. Lies are essentially lubricants. They’re used to avoid pushback from the boss if one is late to work, has missed a meeting or an assignment, or wants to convert a sick day into a vacation day. Children lubricate the friction they’ll receive from their parents when they’ve been mischievous and anticipate trouble coming. Or perhaps when someone returns something to the store and would really like to get their money back even though the truth doesn’t quite fit the return policy. There are countless instances of these smaller, “white” lies.
But the most frightening applications of these seemingly innocuous lubricants are in much deeper, and often darker places. And they are WITHIN US. How many times do we break New Years resolutions with the help of those rationalizing little lies? The smoker will quit “one day.” Just one more carton. The overweight person may claim to know that they need to lower their blood pressure and yet somehow they keep ordering the same way at the dinner table. The person in the abusive relationship makes the excuse that their partner really does love them. And perhaps that it’s even their own fault. While these examples do certainly exist, they are of course extreme.
But how many people simply tell themselves, “I really am happy,” when it’s just not true? How many people drown out their own inner voice because of the fear of change or the resistance to responsibility or work or obligation? Yes, change is work – there’s pressure on the sides of those tires in order to shift that vehicle.
But think of the alternative. And play the tape forward. Do you really want to keep sliding down the road of your life only to look back one day desperately wishing you had turned? I promise that the pain of regret will always outweigh that of discipline and change. It takes a small investment of courage to get the reactor going. But once you’re in motion, the pay offs will fuel the process and momentum will make it significantly easier.
Just take a good look, and no matter what the circumstances, be honest.
At least, and especially, with yourself!