A recent study found that those speaking the truth are 75% less likely to suffer from heart disease than those who tell a lie. Sounds like a government study… right? Relax, no lying rats were harmed in this study, I made that part up (oops, that’s what I’m talking about…).
Years ago, I took a job as a professional liar. That’s not what they called it, but truly, I was a liar for hire. The official job title was “shopper,” specifically banks. It began innocently with fibs, innuendos, lies of omission. Corruption begged company, so I enlisted my husband, bringing him along for the heists.
Like Bonnie and Clyde, we hit the banks on the list pretending to be ordinary customers, cashing checks, making deposits, asking questions. Unsuspecting tellers would later be evaluated as to his or her customer service skills. Victims chewing gum or forgetting to say thank you, landed on the hit man’s list back at headquarters. Those were carefree days, racing away in our get-a-way Subaru, conscience slightly smudged.
We excelled at our job, leading to increased hits spreading throughout the Northwest. Soon our escalating lying skills led to the big time… hustling loan officers, a position requiring top notch lies of the sort they named the club after.
We were given an attache full of new identities, including names, jobs, financial histories, to which we added personal details for flavor. It was challenging racing between the ever growing list of jobs. We grew weary, making small mistakes like taking the wrong exit or misplacing notes. The lies grew like weeds twisting around truth, making it difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy.
My last bank job, the one that scared me honest was in Portland. It was the final job of the day. I was late, rattled, weary from building lies. The loan officer offered her hand, inviting me to sit. The cool, collected Bonnie and Clydeness abandoned me. Taking her extended hand, I opened my mouth, trusting that whatever name came out would be correct.
“My name is Ida Thurman,” I said.
“What? Oh… no… really? That’s my name too. I’ve never met anyone named Ida Thurman. Both first and last names? That’s crazy!”
The moment I heard it, I knew I had unconsciously spoke the name on the brass nameplate displayed on her desk. Too late for a clever lie as to how I confused my own name with hers, we began a lengthy, clumsy conversation about the Minnesota Thurmans, none of which I could recall except possibly Sue Ann sounded “familiar.”
No matter if the lie is white, barefaced or polite, a fib, a whopper, or my favorite – The Butler’s lie (coined for lies intended to save face), lying is stressful. Maybe you’ve never lied; never experienced that flushed face sweaty palm moment; never needed a shovel of reinforcement lies to dig yourself out from the grave of deception. If so, I commend you, albeit with much skepticism.
I know my family culture promoted the art of lying, selectively of course, with good intentions and purposes; such as lies to friends or family, protecting feelings; lies to neighbors and busybodies, restricting gossip, lies to the police, limiting jail visits; lies regarding taxes, saving money. This is just a small sampling of the acceptable practices in the art of moral lying. If you research styles of lies, you’ll be amazed… Wikipedia lists 35. As a former not so nice chick looking for trouble, I believe I’ve practiced all on the list and more. I’m not alone. Just look at the songs written about it- to name a few: Rolling Stones – Lie; The Castaways – Liar liar; Eagles – Lyin’ Eyes; Queen – Liar; Fleetwood Mac – Sweet Little Lies.
Personally, I had a hard time taming my lies, sometimes still do. For me, lying was a natural gift for survival. It was easy and harmless creating a tall tale to fit the occasion. Even as I write this I’m holding back an urge to boast of instances when one of my lies helped someone. Alas, the command to not lie made God’s top ten list, thus the need to change. One thing I’ve learned, if God commanded it, then you better listen up because He only wants to protect you from the dire consequences.
Today I can honestly say I’m no longer a gifted liar. It’s like making gravy, it takes practice keeping the lumps out. I don’t miss the thrills or even the sense of self-awe after creating a doozy (not on the Wikipedia list). I do enjoy knowing my word means something today. Turns out telling the truth relieves stress better than the typical recommendations of rest, meditation, exercise and it’s even better than a strong dose of Vodka or a bottle of wine. That old saying “it’s always best to tell the truth? Turns out it’s not some hokey line parents made up to find out what their children have been up to. It’s true.
4 simple ways telling the truth can relieve stress
You only have to keep track of one version of the details.
People learn to trust what you say, even respect who you are.
You don’t think everyone else is a liar, leading to trust and respect for others.
That feeling of “soon the bodies will float to the top of the lake,” disappears. You’re confident of your innocence.
Keep in mind, this is based on my own experience with the relationship between lies and stress. We might need a spendy government study to prove it, being a sound source of truth telling. As obvious as it may seem to stop telling lies, I believe we all need a little reminder since it is a prevalent, even expected practice, in the world we live in.
I conclude this post with a confession: Stress or not, if you ask me, “does my butt look big in these pants?”… I’m going to lie.