How to Stop Lying and Speak the Truth — to Yourself

Ok. I admit it. I’m a liar. Or am I? Funny thing about liars. No one believes them even when they do tell the truth. Which I am doing right now. I think. If only I could stop lying — to myself.

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Here’s my problem. I am quite conscientious about speaking the truth to others – to you, for example. I’d put up with a lot of hurt to speak the truth to you. That’s not the problem. It’s when I talk to myself – inside, where no one else can hear – that I struggle to stop lying and speak the truth.

I’m hoping I’m not the only one with this dilemma. Maybe you can relate to these examples:

  • When I lose it with my kids: “I am the worst parent ever!”
  • When my wife doesn’t have dinner ready after I skipped lunch: “No one understands the stress I’m under – or cares!”
  • When I wake up late one morning: “I don’t have time for God today. It’ll be fine.”
  • When I hit a wall chasing my dreams: “Be realistic. It’ll never happen. You’re really not that special.”
  • When I’ve left my notes for a post – let’s say this one, for example — out in the rain: “If we didn’t have that stupid rabbit’s litter box to clean out, I wouldn’t have left….”  You get the idea.

As you can see, I’m pretty good at lying to myself. I’m especially gifted at lying to rationalize my failures and blame others for my mistakes. I think I know why I struggle to stop lying:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Five Key Facts

I think the solution to this problem lies (no pun intended) in facing five key facts:

  1. I lie. To me. Just coming out of the closet of denial starts me on the path to the solution. At least I can keep my guard up when I know what I know.
  2. I am really good at it. I can make just about anything sound convincing in the echo chamber of my own mind. I’d be wise to check myself and apply the immortal wisdom of Willy Wonka more often: “Strike that. Reverse it.”
  3. I have an integrity problem. I need to call it what it is. If I’m not honest with myself, I can’t say I’m a man of integrity. One hole in the hull integrity of a battleship will sink her eventually. So it is with my own soul integrity. My dishonesty with myself will catch up to me. And sink me.
  4. I can choose to speak the truth. I don’thave to lie to myself.  If I am in Christ, I am a new creation, inside and out. I don’t have to be like the rich young ruler who told himself he had kept all the commandments from his youth – until Jesus pointed out the one that really mattered for him. The ruler couldn’t handle the truth. But since I’m in Christ, I can.
  5. I will always be a liar unless I become a truth-teller. I must not only put off falsehood. I must speak truthfully (Eph. 4:22-25). When is a liar not a liar? It’s not just when he isn’t lying. At that moment, I’m just a liar who doesn’t happen to be lying to himself at that moment. It’s when I intentionally speak the truth – even when it’s difficult – that I begin to reverse this pernicious habit that clings to my weary soul.

Now, since we’ve already established my own inability to trust myself, I’d like to hear your perspective on my condition. Is it just me? Are there other ways you have found to deal with the lies we tell ourselves? Leave a comment to share the growth.

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