My current favorite book is a small volume called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. His cultural heritage is Toltec Indian and he writes about their cultural wisdom. In the Four Agreements he discusses these tenants of living: 1. Be impeccable with your word, 2. Don’t make assumptions, 3. Don’t take things personally, and 4. Do your very best at all times.
Today I want to talk about being impeccable with your word, i.e. don’t lie, don’t exaggerate, don’t gossip. In our culture, we begin more conversations with lies: “How are you?” “Fine, good, great, hangin’ in there” and we never say “Actually, I have PMS”, or “My head aches” or “I’m worried about losing my job.” Now that would be a real conversation starter! I do try to be honest. I’ll say “I’m happy to see you” or “I just walked the dogs in the rain and I loved it”.
So these little lies open the door for the bigger lies. There is lying by omission so that you never say if anything is wrong but you never say that everything is fine. You just avoid the topic. Then there are the outright lies we tell, supposedly to protect someone else’s feelings “He just got that tattoo and I’m not going to tell him it’s ugly. That would hurt his feelings.” Then there are the lies we tell because we don’t know how to be honest “You look great in that mini-skirt” and the “White Lies” such as “I’ll only be a minute”. Finally, there are the Bigger is Better lies of exaggeration and self-aggrandizement “That fish was THIS big!”
One of the ways that people’s self-esteem suffers is when they are not honest: when they are not authentic. We cannot be “real” if we are lying because we are preoccupied in remembering the lie, trying to be consistent with the lie and hoping we won’t be caught in the lie.
I challenge you to go through an entire day, then 2 days, then work up to a week of not lying and see what you discover about yourself.