Why Are People Afraid to Be Honest?

Thomas Davis
3 min readFeb 22, 2018
Image: Jordan Gallery of Fine Arts

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” — Dorothy Allison

Let’s be honest, people lie all the time.

They lie about anything and everything.

They lie to their partners and spouses.

They lie to their kids.

They lie to their work.

They lie to their friends.

Lies, lies, lies.

I have lied to people and so have you.

So why do we do it? Why do we find it easier to lie than tell the truth?

We lie to protect people’s feelings, make ourselves look good, cover up a mistake or maybe we get a kick out of lying. There are a whole host of reasons why we lie.

According to Psychology Today people lie because:

1. The lie does matter…to them

2. Telling the truth feels like giving up control

3. They don’t want to disappoint you

4. Lies snowball and get bigger and bigger

5. It’s not a lie to them

6. They want it to be true.

We have all seen people lie for other reasons like trying to get away with something like cheating on a spouse or for personal gain.

Why do we find it so hard to be honest?

Has society taught us that it is acceptable to lie?

After all we all went through school being lied to constantly. History textbooks are filled with lies that were drilled into our heads. Turn on the TV and listen to all of these politicians telling us more lies.

Society has made it acceptable to lie and so routine. It is almost like we lie on auto pilot and nobody says a thing.

Nobody benefits from lying.

Benefits of telling the truth

Telling the truth benefits your health. Lying is very stressful to the body, damages health and accelerates aging.

When you lie, and you are afraid you will get caught, it creates stress.

Anita Kelly, a psychology professor at Notre Dame conducted an experiment of 110 adults. She asked half of them to stop lying through the study period which was 10 weeks. But they could still omit the truth, keep secrets and dodge questions they did not want to answer. The other half were not given any instructions but knew they would have to report the number of lies they told each week. They also took. A weekly lie detector test, filled out questionnaires about their physical and mental health, as well as the quality of their relationships.

As a result both groups lied less. Those instructed to tell the truth reaped more health benefits. “We established very clearly that purposefully trying not to lie caused people to tell fewer lies. When they told more lies, their health went down. When they told the truth, it improved.” Kelly says.

How many people have told a little white lie that bit them in the ass later? Doesn’t this seem to be the case more often than not.

If you lie more than 11 times a week which is the average for Americans it can be tough to keep track of them all. You constantly have to cover up and/or remember who you told what to. This creates a burden almost like a full time job where you have to write everything you said down just to keep up.

It hardly seems worth lying given the stress and health damage it causes.

Go ahead and stand out by telling the truth. Your body will thank you for it.

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Thomas Davis

Writer, motivational blogger, self-development,deep thinker, storyteller