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In Defense of “Little White Lies” in Our Daily Lives?
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Sunday, April 30, 2023


Outright lies are unacceptable, but those little white lies come in handy in so many situations that call for tact or protecting others from something upsetting. Are they OK to use?

Erasmus, the Dutch philosopher, priest, and writer, offers an interesting perspective for those of us living in the 21st century. He expressed confidence in the potential of human beings for self-improvement, a corollary of his acceptance of free will. He believed in the preponderance of nurture over nature, given the power of the will. He is someone whose work I admire.

One book he wrote about superstition and, in part, a pompous Pope, In Praise of Folly, continues to be a favorite of anyone looking for insight into what we call “the human condition.” In this article, I take a look at what most of us use every day or several times a year, at least, the white lie.

In order to avoid awkward situations or save someone’s feelings, we frequently turn to “little white lies” in our daily lives. These lies are generally harmless because they concern trivial or minor subjects. It’s crucial to understand that lying may have harmful effects and undermine relationships, even in the most innocent-looking of ways.

Examining our reasons for telling small white lies can help us accept the fact that we sometimes tell them. Are we advising them to avoid conflict or causing someone else pain? Or are we instructing children in order to benefit ourselves—perhaps by escaping criticism or punishment? It might be simpler to understand why we tell little white lies if our motivations are honest and not self-serving.

Examining how little white lies affect our relationships is another strategy for dealing with their use. Even though it may seem like a tiny lie at the time, a long string of lies can erode trust and intimacy in a relationship. Even when it is uncomfortable at the time, being open and honest with others can result in deeper and more genuine interactions.

It’s critical to understand that not all lies are created equal. Even though they are still lies, small white lies are typically regarded as less detrimental than “big lies,” or lies regarding important issues. This does not imply that they have no impact, either. The effect of a lie is frequently arbitrary and depends on the circumstances and the recipient.

Despite the fact that small white lies may seem innocuous, it’s crucial to evaluate the reasons behind them as well as the effects they have on our relationships. It may seem harmless, necessary, or inconsequential, but we still need to question our motivation. Even in awkward circumstances, being open and honest with others may help foster deeper relationships. Nevertheless, a lie’s effect varies depending on the circumstances and the person being lied to.

I can say with certainty that all of us have engaged in this type of behavior. It’s human to want to relieve ourselves of what we believe may be a major problem if we tell the unvarnished truth about something. But we do need to consider the future consequences. Once you begin lying, your brain jumps right on board and is more than willing to help relieve any psychic discomfort you’re feeling, which makes it more acceptable to lie.

Our friend Erasmus would have called this striving for self-improvement, or words thereof, and they are as true today as they were in the 1400s. We have the will and the power to do so. Each of us makes these choices daily.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

Author's page: http://amzn.to/2rVYB0J

Medium page: https://medium.com/@drpatfarrell

Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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