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Gary King once said, “There is no such thing as an inconsequential lie.”
Honesty is so important to a successful life of recovery it deserves special emphasis. It is a cornerstone of integrity.
Everyone lies. The person who says “I have never lied” is not telling the truth. People lie out of guilt, shame, fear, or to get what they want. This is why the practice of honesty is important to everyone.
At the end of the day, it is hard to say who dishonesty harms more—you or others. It destroys trust and poisons relationships. Dishonesty leaves people separated and disconnected. As Renee Bledsoe has said:
“The Light is more than some abstract, unknowable energy force. Light is Truth. If Light is Truth, then darkness must be lies. Each and every lie you tell to yourself and others casts the shadow of separation upon you. Every time even the most minor deception is revealed and the truth is made known, you are reunited with the Light. So, let there be Light. Those are the words by which you can create your own magnificent world.”
This is why a commitment to rigorous transparency and honesty is so critical. You cannot have authentic connection and mutuality with others under the veil of deceit.
Integrity requires rigorous honesty in all your affairs. This is very difficult for those in early recovery, for addiction compelled them to develop a way of being that depended upon deceit for survival. It was a crucial coping mechanism to protect the Master, the addiction. To give it up feels both unfamiliar and frightening. It takes a leap of faith to share your feelings and actions with others and hope others help and not harm you. Many fear judgment if they return to addicting. People fear rejection. They fear the painful consequences of their behavior and feel an overwhelming urge to lie to protect themselves from these consequences. See that recovery means “facing the music” of your unskillful actions. The painful consequences of your unskillful behavior are part of the healing process of recovery. No matter the case, you must intentionally practice honesty to break this default way of acting.
Lying to protect an addiction can be a core survival need if you do not see other ways of dealing with your pain. When caught in the grips of addiction, the addiction rules. Attempts by others to block your addictive behavior can then bring out frustration, rage, and deceit. Honesty helps to free you from the shackles of addiction.
As you enter recovery, renounce even the smallest lies. Lying only adds fuel to the fire of your guilt, shame, and remorse. You may lie in a rationalized attempt to “protect” loved ones from the painful truth of your addiction. This only creates separation when you need connection. When people discover the lie, it shatters trust and incites hurt and anger in the ones you have deceived. This multiplies the shame that led to lying.
Committing to honesty is a courageous act born of the insight that it’s what’s best—for you and everyone else. Accept the consequences of your actions. Don’t lie out of fear of what will happen to you. Be honest. This builds trust and connection with others. Do it to decrease your own shame, guilt, and remorse. Let the Golden Rule guide you; you don’t want others to lie to you.
Committing to honesty helps you to act with integrity. This is because every time you act, you know that others may learn of your actions, as you commit to honesty regarding what you do and say. Honesty thus creates accountability. This helps you to think twice before acting. It reinforces your commitment to doing the next right thing.
Take care, however, in your practice of honesty, to not harm others. Sometimes it is best to not say the truth, as no good will result. Truth without compassion can be a weapon. If you must say something potentially hurtful, say it with tact and kindness.
While practicing honesty may bring short-term pain in the form of painful consequences—embarrassment, not getting what you want, punishment—see that it brings long term gain and reduces long term pain. It is what is best for you (and others) in the long run. It leaves you with a clear conscience and steers you clear of the even more painful consequences that can come from being dishonest. Honesty relieves you of unnecessary stress and provides peace of mind. This enhances and protects your recovery.
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