To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

A Story by Carole

How easy it is to deceive even ourselves with lies and think they are true. If we tell enough of them, it will eventually taint our ability to see the truth.



The truth will set you free. But first, it will

p_ _ _  you off.

Gloria Steinem



The truth will always hurt.  None of us want to hear it. Sometimes we’re not accustomed to telling it.   I have had a few friends in my time tell me the gut wrenching truth about myself.  Truth that made my heart cringe like a two-edged sword piercing right down to the quick of my heart.  After reeling from the shock of what was said, I picked myself back up off the floor, I bellied on up to the bar and took it like a woman should. 


You see, I believe that a good friend loves us enough to tell us the truth.  We may not always want to hear it, and it may tick us off, but in the end, we will be better for it. I love what Henry Ward Beecher has to say about true friendship:  It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. So to love a man that you cannot bear to see a stain upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words, that is friendship. 


Lies are a lot like puppies.  They follow us wherever we go.  If we tell one, we will have to tell another to cover up that one, and then we will have to cover up that one by telling another, and so on.  Eventually we will forget who we told what to and a downward spiral enshrouded in a cloud of confusion will be the result.  It won’t be long and we will be seen as a dishonest person. Mark Twain says it best:  “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember any thing.”


Character is a desirable character trait, at least for me. “A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor than silver and gold” says an ancient proverb.  I respect an individual that has common morals and cares about what they project to our world through not only their words, but also their actions.  


Abraham Lincoln was dubbed “Honest Abe” after paying off his debts when a store he owned went bankrupt and legend has it George Washington confessed that he “could not tell a lie” after chopping down a cherry tree.  It was important then and it is important now.


While I am far from perfect, I pride myself on being honest and telling the truth in situations that I encounter.  I can’t, in good conscience lie to anyone or for anyone and I sleep a lot better these days. The character Polonius in the play Hamlet, while preparing his son Laertes for travel abroad has him commit a few precepts to memory.  Amongst them was the most important one:  “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou cans’t not be false to any man.” 


A lie very simply defined is a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood; something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture; to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive; to confess what is false; convey a false impression. *


Deception is a bedfellow with lies.  It is defined in this way: An inaccurate or false statement; to mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude; to mislead or falsely persuade others; to practice deceit. * 


Oh, I have told plenty of lies.  Who hasn’t?  I have subtly lied through my teeth when my world came crashing down around me and my heart was breaking in two, when somone asked how I was doing and my response was, “Fine.”  I have stretched the truth through exaggeration to make myself feel better about who I was and to look better to others.  But, not once can I honestly say, I felt good about it.  My conscience would simply not allow it.  Deep inside of my soul, I knew the words I had just uttered were not true.


When someone asks me how I am now, if my life is upside down, my dog just died, my car is in the shop, and I just cleaned up a leak from the water heater going out, I simply say, “Well, I’ve seen better days, but the way I look at it, this too, shall pass.  Would you pray for me?”  That way I’m not guilty of the proverbial blatant lie through the teeth, and I feel like I am being true to who I really am.  “Fine,” in some cases, is a bald faced lie and nothing more than pretense.


I remember a time in K-mart around Christmas time when I was as broke as they come, and I sauntered on up to the check out stand to pay for an air compressor for my husband.  It was the last Christmas gift I had to purchase, and I handed the cashier my last forty dollars.  My purchase came to thirty dollars and some odd cents.  The cashier gave me $20.00 back in change.  I skipped all the way out to the car smiling like a little kid that had just snuck a cookie from the cookie jar.  My conscience won’t allow me to get away with such things now.  My kids would attest to that.  They have seen me get all the way out to the car with my shopping cart and realize I had something under my purse that I forgot to pay for and march right back into the store to pay for it.  Why?  Because the way I see it, we reap what we sow.  It all comes out in the wash.  I cannot practice deceit or tell a lie, simply because my conscience will no longer allow it. 


Honesty, they say, is ALWAYS the best policy.  That truth still stands today!

I’ll leave you with one more “Old Honest Abe “ ditty:  You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”



© 2009 Carole

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Featured Review

i love this piece because of the ammount of perfect intent put into each well placed sentence,
as you open with a convicting image defining truth in balance. this is an encouraging writing
because there is so much food for thought, and it leaves the reader with a feeling of
knowledge, there are many aspects that can be pondered and reflected upon which
in turn reflects the quality of the writing, and its ability to effect the reader, as well
as well as being able to find a new sense of wisdom each time it's read, beautifully envisoned.

Posted 15 Years Ago

3 of 3 people found this review constructive.


Thank you, I take honesty seriously, when someone lie, it takes some of the respect away from the person. You don't forget the lie. On a light side of it, when I was very young, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I would go to confession, I couldn't think of sins to confess, I would make some up (lies), I remember to this day how weird it felt. Now this one is about stealing, when I was 4 or 5, I remember stealing a walnut, I was daring myself to, I remember every little details about it, too bad nobody saw me do it. Thank you for sharing. God Bless you.

Posted 14 Years Ago

Illuminating...powerful and so true !

Posted 14 Years Ago

Yes! Yes! And double Yes!! "Honesty is such a lonely word" sung Billy Joel, "Everyone is so untrue!"
Honesty is a forgotten virtue. But I love it - even if its painful and I too try to be as honest as possible. Although the "fine" thing is something I'll be changing now.
Thanks for this timely piece!

Posted 14 Years Ago

I've actually done that as well - walked back in when given incorrect change - I know who pays the price for that little amount of extra money in my pocket in the end will be the poor cashier when she closes her drawer and it isn't something I want to go to sleep on. I loved this piece; I rarely give the pat "fine" answer anymore; but I don't really get into detail about what has turned my life topsy-turvy to the acquaintance either - usually I make an offhanded joke about my life in general. I loved this piece; always have loved that saying about not having to remember anything if you tell the truth.



Posted 15 Years Ago

You sound an awful lot like me. My father wasn't a very good role model in many ways, but he did teach me to be honest. I can't even understand people who tell lies and can still sleep at night.

Posted 15 Years Ago

True story! Telling the truth saves a whole lot of time trying to keep straight all the lies. Have you ever noticed what happens when someone asks you "how are you?" and you tell them, I mean REALLY tell them? This "Oh crap" look comes on their face and you can practically hear their paniced thoughts before they bolt. Hmm to much truth perhaps?

Posted 15 Years Ago

This is an excellent Write. Such truth in your words and a powerful Impact. I have it bad, that whole fine thing. Most people don't want to hear it and I get tired of saying it. So I guess I have learned to be honest with myself and make it easier on everybody else by saying I'm fine and how are you?
Hugs Debby

Posted 15 Years Ago

yes i liked this a lot ,but dear ,sometimes ,a lie is very much in place ,as you said ,to be a good friend ,you should tell him exactly where he stands ,you know dear if you tell all your friends who have built their lives on certain false lies just toso they can dream and dream of a better life that does not exist ,i read Eugene Oneal,The Iceman Cometh,our hero at the end tell all his friends one by one what a big lie all their lives is ,even his own ,they nearly all broke down and he went mad ,i think lies can ,and i am sorry to say that can make life less of a burden ,if you put it to the wide open ,the naked truth ,nobody will bear that ,its terrible but its these terrible times we live in forces us to be that way ,or life will just be unbearable,yes dear this writing is so wise it gives me so much to think of,and i feel sad we reached this way ,and i wonder...

Posted 15 Years Ago

i liked this peace of work hun it give me food for thought hun

Posted 15 Years Ago

What can I say that hasn't already been said. It is a great write and one you should be proud off. Thanks

Posted 15 Years Ago

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34 Reviews
Shelved in 4 Libraries
Added on April 8, 2008
Last Updated on February 8, 2009



Rio Rancho, NM

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