Is It Ethical to Pamper Someone's Self-Esteem With White Lies and Pep Talks?
Sometimes all we need is a little pampering to help us feel better.
-- Charles M. Schultz
A Formula for Harmony Within and Without
Everyone is bound to readily claim about themselves how they are a "truth-loving" person---from a lover, parent, friend, preacher, shrink...all the way to a politician. And yet, as we are about to find out, none of the above would perform effectively in their role without applying a dose of white lies, which in a mega dose would translate to a pep-talk.
How is that?
Those very same people to whom we are tied by trust completely would lose their significance in our lives if they started telling us exclusively the crude truth about ourselves, themselves, and the world we share.
But then, even if it would come to that, what would make us competent judges to accuse them of lying to us? Look, a day doesn't pass without our feeding ourselves a bunch of white lies upon which all our confidence, self-esteem, and the whole self-image are heavily based. For sake of sanity we simply have to think of ourselves as "good looking", "smart", "experienced", "skilled"...etc. How true it really is---that's another story, right?
Are we good human beings? Of course we are---what a silly question, right? And yet, in the relativity of everything, many people of this world might not share our opinion about ourselves, finding a flaw here and a weakness there. And if they cared to dig deep enough, who knows how much would be really left of that shiny front that we are exhibiting for the world---and for ourselves for that matter.
That's why we are so elegantly selective about what is presentable and what is not about ourselves. If we were not, we might get depressed like hell, losing much of that enthusiasm, zest for life, that drive and inspiration to take an active part in the events of life.
Maybe some versions of depression are stemming exactly from this neglect to feed ourselves those white lies, while going too "realistic"---warts and the rest about ourselves and our life. With no white lies a cynic gets born in ourselves.
Thus, by that same phrase "in the relativity of everything", what we have cherry-picked as the truth about us is also a right choice, whether a lie, a truth, or only a half-truth, for all the goodness it does to keep our emotional batteries charged. In a strictly philosophical sense, whatever we say to ourselves is a lie anyway ---so, why not make it a white one?
Indeed, folks, whether we say that life is an "exciting journey" or that it "sucks"---it's a lie, a deliberate fabrication, a positionality, so we can't go wrong by slapping a good coat of white paint on it. Then life has ways of thanking us for that.
Tact is knowing how far to go too far.
-- Jean Cocteau
Tactfulness Equals White Lying
When our opinion about those we love is not "white" enough to be spoken out, it's our sacred duty to paint it as white as possible. Just for an example, how would you have a heart to say to someone sick whom you love that they look like crap?
Then, as your dear wife, the love of your life is proudly trying on her new dress, for which you paid a lot by the way, and now is parading in it in front of the full size mirror like a movie star---would you remind her of the "fact" that no dress in the world could hide that "spare tire" in her midsection?
If you would, then you don't deserve any better than being told that you are not much of a provider, money-wise or bed-wise. I am sure, that remark about the "spare tire" would make your wifie quite articulate about your negative personal inventory.
So, paying for being truthful would only add up to what you already paid for the dress. Bad move, buddy; so go creative and give her one of those admiring looks; borrow it from those times when you are eyeballing that good looking neighbor---that will do.
Really folks, we all seem to be so sensitive to this word "lie", or "pep-talk", so maybe it's time to face the truth how without it no functional relationship of any sort would be possible.
Now, before you jump me with all kinds of protests, of course, it doesn't cover our "performances", which are an altogether different ball game. You can't give a driver's license to someone who crosses red lights and stop signs, and it's perfectly right to seize it from someone like that who already has it.
Job performance, artistic performance, all kind of performances including the one in your bedroom can get you fired if you don't satisfy the standard requirements. But we are not talking about any of those; we are talking about the models of interacting to each other and to ourselves.
And neither are we talking about those sincere expressions of closeness which don't need any white lies. Our theme is the constructive maintenance of a relationship, within which certain expressions may come out sincere---but some others need that "interactional cosmetics".
We simply can't be "sincere" all the time, because that would not be healthy for the relationship. No one wants you to be "perfectly honest" with them. They need verbal pampering, which also gets to be called "support". To make it apparently a little more complicated---we do our white lying in the name of those sincere feelings.
An occasional compliment is necessary to keep up one's self-respect.
-- Mark Twain
We Are No Robots Acting Upon Facts
A preacher sweet-talking to you about your being a "lovable child of God" simply has to do it in order to be called a preacher and not falling on a level of a cynic who might analyze either "what's so lovable about you", or "what's so wrong about God's taste".
What they are calling "constructive criticism" is merely a logical step-ladder which is to uplift us to a level where we would deserve a certain white lie.
So, is all that about white lies and pep-talk morally justifiable?
Well, our natural model of functioning would make it so, because there would be no escape from it but straight into insanity---since we cannot function like biological robots being fed an input of dry facts. We have to give everything a "significance". Even this word contains a part of the word "signature", meaning that we just have to slap all factual input with a result of our inner processing, intellectual, emotional, and attitudinal.
Without doing that, the whole life would turn into a sterile professional meeting where only facts are allowed. This alone may explain why a shrink or a priest are not really welcome at a party. They make us self-conscious and inhibited in our free flow of being a silly bunch of happy and imperfect humans.
For another brief moment just try imagining how disastrous would be the results of our joint sticking to the fact of all politicians being professional liars. There would be no elections; I mean, none of those happy and perky party conventions, no campaigning---as every candidate would be booed even before starting his brainwashing speech.
Hey, folks, isn't this telling you something? Damn it, we simply love being brainwashed, don't we? Let's call it a "high level pep-talk". And to make it just a little more ridiculous, we call the opposition leader a "liar" with such a dark passion, while completely blinding ourselves from the truth that our candidate is just as full of brainwashing crap---which they are bound to keep proving for four years if they get elected.
Find your fucking balls, Mitch, and reattach them.
-- Jacquelyn Ayres
Let Us Make Our Lies Helpful
But well, that's our nature, we can't help being very selective about which lie can qualify to be called the truth---our truth, that is. Thus, there is nothing basically wrong about white lies and pep-talking, since it seems to be in our default nature to do it.
When a motivational speaker fills your heart and your guts with a new zest for living, it's nothing but a noble attempt to instill into your self-talk a new program of white-lying. Hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, positive affirmations, and positive thinking are all based on re-programming that inner chat that we constantly have with ourselves.
In other words, they are reprogramming our belief-system. Hey, did I just dump this sacred word "belief" into the "white-lie" business? Yes, because belief is really nothing but a thought chosen to stay as a mental signpost in the structure of our personality. It may, or may not have something to do with the factual reality supported by evidence.
That's exactly what makes "believing" and "knowing" different. Technically, every positive belief is a white lie sustaining us in our life-orientation. And it's O.K. like that, folks. Isn't that a sort of a paradox that the truth about lying justifies it?
From the perspective of modern science---and also an ancient spirituality---everything is anyway an illusion, a maya, as it's called in Hinduism, or call it a virtual reality in which we are guided by some deliberate truisms, not the ultimate truth. And I hope I don't have to tell you---something being only a partial truth is not truth, no matter how elegantly painted by our belief and sentiment.
Therefore, let's you and I keep lying to each other and to ourselves about how great people we are; for if everyone's self image was a true reflection of who they really were, this world would look quite a gloomy place, don't you think so? Thinking like that about ourselves at least makes it more true than not doing it.
A moment after we take shower our skin gets full of microorganisms, and it doesn't bother us one bit, because we don't choose to be hard core realists to think about it, but rather enjoy in that illusion of "now being so clean".
One way or another, all of us are quite able "poets of deception", creating our inner and outer world---not to make it "real", but the one that may pamper our existence by lulling us into a comfortable version of the dream called life---whenever we are not in a business of making it a nightmare, that is.
In the short video below you will learn how white lies may be constructive to our relationships---as long as we don't overdo it.
White Lies Are O.K.---but Not As a Habit
Your Thoughts about White Lies and Pep-Talk
Are well measured white lies and pep-talk:
© 2017 Val Karas