The time had come to tell the kids that the magical mystical characters they had lovingly believed in for their 9 and 12 years on this planet were not actually quite as true as we had made out.
The topics of truth and lies are around us every single day, but often we cruise through the day without thinking about the impact the truth, or lack or it, has on our lives.
I help people explore and discover ways to bring more truth in when it matters most and spot and reduce harmful dishonesty before it’s too late. I reflected on the irony of our teachings to children about ‘always telling the truth’ as I sat down last Saturday to expand on the information that I had helped to deliver to my (step) boys.
The conversation started when Jett, 12, announced that another tooth had come out and he would place it in the glass and hopefully the tooth fairy would bring another $10 as had happened 4 days earlier. My partner looked at me and said “I think it’s time for the discussion”.
We huddled the boys together and although Jett, had been advised some weeks ago of the story of Santa and the truth around the big guy in the red suit, he was still in the dark about the other characters that pop up with gifts and money. Young minded for his age, he had heard rumours at school but still had belief that the stories we had told him just had to be the truth. Why would we lie about important stuff like that?
Jaxon, 9 was a bit more confused and after being advised of the truth of the tooth fairy and then Santa, he thought for a while. “Wait..what about the Easter Bunny?” This one caused him a bit of discomfort as all of a sudden he had a fearful thought that he may miss out on the excessive chocolate that he loves so much.
Truth and honesty are interesting concepts. Most people I meet or work with declare that they consider themselves truthful and most certainly an honest person. But the definition becomes a bit flexible, pliable or foggy when you begin to explore what needs to happen for the label of being an honest person to move to a dishonest person.
It seems everyone has a different view and does well to justify the things they may have done that technically are dishonest, don’t bring them any closer to being a dishonest person.
The lies we tell to children are for fun and for tradition and they are not done with any intent to hurt or leave someone without. On the contrary.
Let me ask you something. Have you ever:
Twisted the truth on a tax return?
Added a few extra things on an insurance claim?
Failed to point out the under charging of an item?
Told someone your phone was flat/died/no signal when that was untrue?
Hidden a relationship with someone other than your partner?
Lied to someone on a date about something important?
Told someone you just love the gift they gave you when there was nothing about it you liked?
The list goes on and often as people look through some of these rather common behaviours, they realise that perhaps they are not always as honest as they like to believe they are. We are excellent at justifying the WHY around deception and dishonesty.
A man in my shared workspace office last week confessed to me about his house being burgled and how he ‘evened things up’ by listing a few extra items. He went on to say that it was fair because he had been paying premiums for over 20 years and had never made a claim. He said “it was easy, they didn’t even question it”.
An article I read once said that one percent of people are always honest and one percent always dishonest. And that the remaining 98% just oscillate between degrees of honesty and dishonesty.
My work has been leading me more into the space of working with people to explore how more truth can make a difference. I have discovered that in most human interactions we can give and get more truth when it matters, but it takes a new level of awareness and often some tweaking to communication techniques.
Lie spotting has been an interesting space I have worked in for over 16 years but my focus now is more about truth attracting. I think that is a better place to start.
So, back to my children who were now demonstrating emotional concern about the loss of Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the beloved Easter Bunny. I grabbed my phone and googled for some historical stories that would make everything ok and relieve some pain – mine and theirs.
I searched for answers to questions about bunnies and reindeer and what was true and what was completely made up. Somehow, toward the end of the discussion, Jaxon concluded that Jesus must have been a bunny! I said I was pretty sure he wasn’t.
I’m curious to know how YOU would rate yourself out of 10 on an honesty scale and why. It’s a gutsy thing to share and you don’t have to go into detail – but if you’ve read this far, then I’d love you to be part of my casual research.
10 – I’m always honest. 1 – I’m rarely honest
Have a great Christmas and I hope Santa (or someone) brings you some wonderful gifts that you genuinely like.