What’s worst: lying to others or to yourself??

We have a quote from my father-in-law: you can lie to others, but not to yourself (in Danish ‘Man kan lyve for alle andre, men ikke for sig selv’). It made me wonder, what’s worst: lying to others or to yourself? Or lying full stop?

My family upbringing was more around total honesty and not lying to anyone at all – but with life experience I realise that we do lie. Small white lies to not upset people, and for some people they live their life on big lies. Others are very aware of being honest and prudent to others – but lie to their true self by not listening and standing up for themselves and what is important to them.

I guess the meaning of his quote is that we deep down know what’s right for us, and that we get hints when we’re not living to our own values and purpose.

The other side of the coin of honesty versus lies is that when we are honest, we can hurt people as well, so is that actually better than lying??? I have given more than my fair share of hurt through being honest and not being able to hide emotions. So I’ve had to learn to lie – or the way I prefer putting it: tell the truth but you don’t need to tell all details and a long story, phrase it so you are honest to both yourself and the receiving end. And you don’t need to speak all you think and know: choose wisely with a filter of whether it will be helpful for the other person. Lots of learning for me still….

I truly believe though that lying or covering up doesn’t serve any purpose at all. Yes, sometimes the truth is painful both for ourselves and for others. But sometimes being vulnerable and honest opens up for a totally different level of conversation – as long as it’s said with respect and we stick around for the conversation, not throwing it as a stink bomb and running off… Covering it up just delays the learning.

What’s your view here? Honesty before everything else? Telling the truth as constructively as possible? Or lying and delaying the realisation of what’s really going on?

Can I be guaranteed another 46 years minimum to practise??? That would be great, thanks.