By: Zara Maqbool
According to Google, a white lie is “ a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.” But does it really prevent hurting someone’s feelings especially in the long run? Because in our defense when we say these ‘white lies’ we feel saying them is more important than the truth, which can hurt.
Like commenting on your friend’s Facebook profile picture and saying, ‘gorgeous’ when in reality she is not looking even close to that. I have been guilty of never making such comments because I feel like a fake in doing that or maybe I am stingy with compliments.
What annoys me the most is how people change statements in your face and with such conviction that you end up doubting your memory, inducing guilt in you. Like yesterday an exchange between my tailor and me where he insisted on a certain point that I don’t definitely remember making but at the end started doubting the credibility of my own statement.
As a society saying white lies comes very naturally to us. “ Tell baba when he calls that mama is sleeping while in reality she has gone out with friends” is one of many lies that we tell to avoid immediate crisis. Little do we realize how it becomes internalized in our systems so strongly that they firstly don’t feel like lies anymore and secondly might turn into proper lying? There is also a danger that the so-called single white lie might turn into a web of several white lies that is nothing short of deception, intention be damned. It’s adding unnecessary stress in our lives as we try our best to maintain the white lies with one cover up story after another.
As a counselor I feel that partly why we need to tell white lies is when we don’t have healthy boundaries. When it’s very hard for us to say No so we opt out for the easy way out of making an excuse. My husband likes going out after dinner usually late and that is the time when I just want to stay rooted to the spot in my pajamas. To avoid hurting his feelings, many a times I have made the excuse of kids getting upset or not feeling well. And now that I think of why I lie is because I feel guilty for saying no when in reality I have no reason to be guilty about. The fact is he doesn’t feel tired at midnight and wants to go out whereas I don’t match that energy. Period!
I wonder if we also avoid being brutally honest because we fear if we will still be loved? Is it safe to tell the truth all the time? Normally honesty is equated with bluntness and I have been referred as a blunt person all the time and not with admiration mind you. Usually encouraged to be diplomatic which I feel is another name for white lies. What is diplomacy anyways? To not be congruent and say what the other person wants to hear rather than what you actually want to say.
My friend Naima Salman says, “ I try and not tell any.
Makes life much simpler and uncomplicated.
At the same time I am not sure if people around me really appreciate the straightforward-ness and black and white approach!”
Lets try to analyze how often we use white lies to save ourselves and is there no other option but to tell the lie? Or are we just fooling ourselves and saying these lies comes as naturally to us as simply talking!
Story first published: 17th July 2017