Tuesday, 15 December 2015

an excuse is worse than a lie

#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au

An interesting thing about having my mother staying with me is seeing how my values have changed over the years. Every so often she will say something from a world view that is completely alien to me, one I realize that I grew up with but have moved on from as I have become my own person.

It hit home today how differently we view things when we were talking about my daughter leaving a Christmas event early. Mum's first comment was that Erin should tell the people at the event that she had a migraine and from there the story could spin out about her terrible headaches and how she needed to go home to rest. 

This reminded me of all the "stories" that were invented by my family as excuses for not doing what they couldn't be bothered putting themselves out for. These excuses always got bigger and more complex as they went along and they would be really proud of the story lines they spun.

Moving away from home and being surrounded by people who valued the truth, woke me up to the fact that these "stories" or excuses were actually just lies that were embroidered to make them feel that they had escaped from a commitment. The smug satisfaction of having fabricated a falsehood that got them off the hook far out-weighed any sense of it being dishonest.

an excuse is a lie guarded

Seeing the lies for what they were really opened my eyes to how differently I see the world. Now I take the opportunity to ask why an excuse/lie is needed and why we can't just give an honest answer? If my daughter wants to leave an event early, she can just say that she needs to go and exit graciously - no need for a convoluted story to make herself feel better. If we don't want to do something, then why not be politely honest and accept that it might cause us a little discomfort because we are disappointing someone?
Sometimes being a grown-up is about allowing others to see that we aren't perfect - that we feel like piking out on an event, or not attending in the first place. Sometimes we have to take the flak that may come from that decision. Lying might let us escape from that, but maturity comes from facing the consequences of our choices - not hiding behind some pretty wrapping paper and hoping we can keep our story straight.

35 comments:

  1. I really like this, I used to feel like I had to make excuses and lies to get out of doing things. Now I find it much easier to tell the truth! #abitofeverything

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    1. it just makes things simpler - you don't have to keep your stories straight - you just tell the truth kindly - because being hurtful isn't the right answer either.

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  2. Same boat here, Leanne! I, too have been guilty of inventing a story to 'spare someone's feelings'. You are right. Honesty really is the best policy!

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    1. I think it's a case of learning how to tell the truth kindly Di - not "your party sucks and I'm leaving" - I don't think that would go down too well!

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  3. Very well said Leanne. I had never thought of it that way before. But you are absolutely right. We all tell little white lies sometimes but not to the point where we'll be proud of them, only to avoid hurting someone else's feeling. On the other hand we should not lie and hope that these excuses will get us off the hook!

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    1. A little white lie can often cover an awkward situation Mary and I don't see the harm in that - it's the full blown embroidered "story" that I don't see the need for - and I don't miss hearing them either!

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  4. I am so with you on this! I'd much rather people be honest and up front about things, even if it hurts a little, than invent some elaborate excuse. Thank you for this fresh perspective!

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    1. thanks Laurel - I think we are old enough and wise enough to know how to use our words kindly - we don't need to concoct stories to make ourselves feel better (because ultimately those stories are for the teller - not the tellee!)

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  5. This is a real eye-opener, Leanne. I was told that little "white lies" were alright as an excuse. Yes, I'm guilty of telling a few of these in order to not attend a function in the past however, now in my late 40's, I feel free to be straight up, but gracious. Thanks for bringing awareness to this. Sharing to my friends.

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    1. I agree Brenda - gracious is the key - we don't need to be unkindly truthful. Just being straightforward and nice and saving the white lie for when there's no other option!

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  6. Wonderful post and eye-opening particularly for those of us who are 'people-pleaser's. I way too often feel I have to explain everything for my kids or myself, which is not right. I really appreciate your post and I truly need to address this myself.

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    1. I think we all try to smooth the way and keep everyone happy Carrie (it's part of our makeup) but it's when we become proud of our elaborate excuses that it gets a bit out of hand and we might need to make some changes!

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  7. I agree with you on this - our decisions have consequences so we should accept them. And the thing is, the consequences aren't necessarily bad - often not nearly as bad as they are in our heads. People can appreciate being told the truth and it can mean we're more likely to be trusted in the future. I respect honesty, myself. #abitofeverything

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    1. I so agree with you Maddy - I think we all feel we are much more important to the grand scheme of things than we actually are. Most people would be quite okay with a genuine answer and would wish us well.

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  8. The older I get, the less inclined I am to make up excuses about why I don't want to attend something. Or, if I do attend, why I want to leave early. I just tell the truth. "Sounds lovely, but I'm not really a large gathering sort of person. I hope it goes well, but I won't be there." Or, "Thank you for having me, I've had a lovely time, but I'm tired now and must go home." No one thus far has seemed to treat me any the worse for a bit of simple honesty :) #abitofeverything

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    1. Exactly! The party will not live or die based on whether we are there or not or whether we stay till the last moment. I'd rather have happy guests than long suffering ones - or lying ones, so I give others the same benefit :)

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  9. A good blog. I favour the Bartleby approach - "I would prefer not to". Difficult to argue with a preference, it's honest without being rude.

    I also use "I've had a lovely time but it's time to go home now".

    Thanks for your post!

    #alittlebitofeverything

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    1. I so agree, we can just politely say goodbye or no thanks - we don't need to concoct a big story that nobody really wants to listen to in the first place!

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  10. I prefer a person to be honest with me up from have me find out they have been lying all along ...Excuses

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    1. I think we all do Patrice - no weak or embroidered excuses - just say something with kindness and everyone's happy.

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  11. That is true, Leanne. I always value truth over anything else..but what if you know the person is emotionally fragile and can't handle some truths? I feel that the world is not always black and white.

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    1. Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything

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    2. I agree that you have to be careful with truth - it's about being kind with your words and a white lie here and there is still part of keeping the peace - it's the huge fabrications that I found were not where I wanted to be.

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  12. I've always been a people "pleaser" and that leads to a lot of guilt when you don't do what someone wants. I'm finding as I get older its becoming less of an issue. I'm fighting a whole life of being taught to be subservient. To basically be a doormat and I'm learning to be more of a door I guess.

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    1. I love that Rena - I think being a door sounds perfect! I think we will always choose our words carefully and try not to hurt others, but saying no graciously can be done sometimes too for our own sanity! Thanks for commenting on my "Seeing Me Project" profile story too - I really appreciated it xx

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  13. Great points! I totally agree with you, and think that encouraging your daughter to be dishonest would have been a mistake. Thank you so much for linking up this thoughtful post with us at the Best of the Blogosphere! We would love to see you back tomorrow morning, for a new link up! :)

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    1. thanks so much for hosting and I'll be linking up again for sure :)

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  14. I love this, Leanne! My father teases me because I am well known for telling people when they ask me why I won't go somewhere or do something, "Because I don't want to." He thinks I'm so rude that it's funny to him. I don't think it's rude at all. Rude is lying, just like what you're saying here. (As an aside, I'm also quite famous for changing my mind about going somewhere, so my friends bug the crap out of me leading up to an event to make sure that I'll go...that doesn't guarantee anything though. LOL!) Thanks for this post!

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    1. Hi Regina - I think it's just easier to be honest - our friends know what we're like and they accept our refusal - the people we feel we need to lie to often didn't really care in the first place, so why make up a story!

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  15. It's always hard this kind of thing. Often you tell a 'lie' to avoid hurting people's feelings. I'm not saying it's right, but sometimes in situations it's better to sugar coat things for some people. I like the bravery of saying I just don't want to, but I'm not sure that would always go down well with everyone. If only we could always be honest without fear of hurting people's feelings.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie

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    1. I think it's how you say it that is the important thing Sally. It's not about being rude or hurtfully honest, it's about gently saying you can't come or you need to leave and not turning it into a huge story to try to make yourself feel better (it's when it's all about you and not them that the lie is worse!)

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  16. You are such a wonderful woman, to change what you grew up knowing, that's a hard thing to do. And to also place emphasis on what you know is right even when it's so different that the beliefs of those who raised you, wow! You impress me with your truth and integrity! I love reading your posts, they make me think about life, reflect on how I am doing in my own. xx

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    1. thanks so much Nikki - I think (as Dr Phil would say) we can rise above our raising. It's nice to know that we can move forward and it brings us to a better place and better people :)

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  17. Hi Leanne,
    Nice to see you! After reading this, I will never make another excuse again; at least I'll try not to. I love Friends. Thanks for the memory.
    I'm Janice, one of your Blogger's Pit Stop hostesses. Thanks for bringing this to last week's linky party.

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    1. Hi Janice - glad you could stop by and thanks for hosting the Pit Stop - it's such a great link up. I'm looking forward to seeing where you girls take us on 2016 :)

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