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Many people who say they don’t lie nevertheless lie in abundance to themselves. Most of us do it some of the time. In order to protect ourselves from pain or disappointment, for example.

First, let me say two things:

  1. This is not a moral discussion. Whether or not telling the truth is something we ‘should’ do is a matter for those who bang on about it.
  2. Denial is something we need. It is a way of deluding ourselves that protects us in extreme circumstances (following bereavement or dealing with terminal illness, for example). I am not advocating telling the truth to those who would rather not hear it, or who couldn’t cope with it if they did. And sometimes that person is ourselves.

Telling the truth to ourselves is what I’m on about. Idris Shah said that truth and folly are on opposite ends of a continuum, so telling the truth is a way of avoiding foolishness.

This is not an admonishment, there is no ‘should’ about it. Telling the truth to ourselves is a matter of ‘could’, if we can spare the time to give it some thought.


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