You have probably heard me mention the topic of integrity and how important it is to me, and its importance in general.
If you were to ask Ben ‘What’s one thing that mum hates most?‘ he would automatically respond, ‘lying’. In my experience lying or dishonesty carries with it immense power to destroy and break down. This is opposed to its counterpart honesty, which also carries immense power but usually through empowerment and building up.
When we are out to achieve personal gain, trying to hide something or avoid something (this might be avoiding our true selves) or dodging consequences, humans continue to find innovative and ‘self-justified’ ways of avoiding the truth. This includes distorting the facts, intentionally withholding, or omitting pieces of information, or fabricating others, all with the intent to deceive another person. I wonder what could be achieved if this much thought and energy were put into initiatives that made a positive impact in the world.
It’s not even confined or restricted to a private or public space, a personal or professional setting. It seems the level and severity of dishonesty vary depending on the circumstances. In some cases, it attracts wide publicity, such as influencing an election. Other times it’s more private, conducted behind closed doors and within the context of a friendship or relationship.
Either way, the impact can be devastating and the outcome is never good, sometimes taking years or even decades to get over it. When a teacher or a parent lies to a child, they can often carry this into adulthood making it difficult to develop intimate and loving relationships.
I knew someone once who was not told as a 3yo that their mother had died. Tragically, she had gone to the shop and died suddenly of an aneurysm and never came home. The child waited by the window for weeks afterward as he was continually told ‘mummy is still at the shops’. The negative effect this had on the individual’s mental health was alive and evident well into their 40s.
Loss of trust on either a personal or professional level gives cause to doubt credibility and leads us to be more cautious and less likely to rely on another person. This slowly reduces the desire to open up and be vulnerable, making strong and meaningful connections challenging.
The damage dishonesty causes to personal relationships contributes to creating a sense of betrayal. When we lie to someone close to us (a partner or a friend), it leads them to question the authenticity of the relationship and erodes the foundation of trust that the relationship is supposed to be built on.
Psychologically, the consequences are immense for both parties. The guilt and shame experienced by the person lying can create a pattern or a belief that they need to keep lying to save face, or ‘continue digging the hole‘ as it is sometimes described. The anxiety of trying to keep up with what you have previously said must be exhausting!
And for the person on the other end, it can lead to questioning every part of themselves, their reality and essentially them feeling ‘gaslighted’ (the art of manipulating another person to question their own reality, memory, or perceptions). The anxiety caused can make a person feel like they are crazy and has long-term consequences. It increases isolation and reduces the desire to make meaningful connections and display vulnerability, for fear that trust will be broken again.
The concept of the ‘butterfly effect’ means that every action we take or don’t take affects another. We are all connected to each other in some way so every kindness, display of compassion, or truthful moment (even if we know it may hurt someone), builds integrity and allows us to develop healthy, loving, and trustworthy relationships based on honesty.
So please, next time you think that your actions don’t affect others – think again. EVERYTHING we do affects someone (or something) else, or put another way, causes an equal or opposite reaction.
You always knew where you stood with Ben. If he said he was going to do something – he did it. If he said he was going to be somewhere – he turned up. I realise today that this level of integrity is rare and it has been a big inspiration for me to gain clarity around the person I want to be.
I smile as I think about the wisdom Ben continues to share with me. He truly seemed to have some things figured out.
Dalya xx 💙