Trust and honesty are important elements in society, and especially within our little sub-societies of ‘family’.
Think about it – is there anyone in your life whom you trust implicitly? If so, then hopefully you are lucky as opposed to naïve.
As parents, we lie often to our children, whilst attempting to instill in them the virtue of truth. Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and so on are but are a tiny portion of the little white lies told by parents every day.
Then there are the little white lies you may tell your spouse or friends.
“Ooh no,” you may say, “of course your bottom isn’t the size of a house”, whilst mentally likening it more to the size a detached three-storey with a triple garage out the back.
But perhaps all lies are not equal? There are the lies we tell to save the feelings of others, lies that seem inconsequential, and then there are the lies we tell to protect ourselves.
Alternatively, we may lie by omission, or simply by deceitful behaviour. We all have that one friend whom we assumed was a true one, but who we later discovered had enough faces to rival Mickey Rourke after his sixth facelift. If we are fortunate then we’ve all matured since and that particular frenemy was made in the playground and discarded long ago. You never quite forget that feeling of finding out that one of your ‘friends’ has spoken about you unkindly behind your back, when you’ve been naively supporting them, assuming all was well.
Generally though, we tell lies in order to benefit ourselves. You may lie to garner sympathy, or to make yourself appear ‘better’ than you actually are, or to cover shame. Sometimes we may need to lie to keep ourselves safe, and sometimes we may lie for the safety of those we love. As human beings, self-preservation is forefront in our behaviour.
People lie to avoid trouble (if their behaviour has warranted ensuing trouble), and some people lie because they simply cannot help themselves – and these pathological liars are the most dangerous, because you will find that they can’t remember where the lie ended and the truth began. And, occasionally, the only person who they’re fooling successfully is their very self.
Some people shatter promises they’ve made, whereas others can keep a lifelong secret for you because they simply don’t thrive off of the “Oooh!” factor of telling someone else your private information, and because they respect that privacy.
When we discover lies or deceit it can be hard to learn to trust again, and perhaps it’s never wise to trust someone fully, but it is comforting to know that most of us can, hopefully, trust that our families and friends have our very best interests at heart. As we grow older, we realise it is wiser to discard our frenemies, and also more dignified and kinder to both yourself, and them, to distance the old relationship and not keep up pretence. You can never really trust a friend again if you discover that said trust has been broken, or they’ve been horrid about you, and cutting the ties gently, moving towards firmly, is the more adult thing to do.
If you ask yourself whether there is anyone in your own little sub-community whom you would trust with your very life, to put your needs above their own, then it is usually a family member that will spring to mind. When we have children, the very least that we can do is try to model trustworthy behaviour. We may spin a few yarns about how the stockings were filled on the 25th, but we can also demonstrate being kind, being a good friend, keeping confidences, and sticking to our word and the promises we make. After all, if you can’t trust your parents at least, then what hope is there?