Memoiren einer Seele

Identity – What is true and what is not?

Jun 15, 2024 | Identity | 0 comments

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I was taught early on in my childhood that “white lies” are okay and “sometimes necessary”. But I was never really taught what a white lie is and where the line is between a normal lie and a supposedly necessary lie.

Now, when I think about it today, as a naive child I would think that any lie is okay if it only arises out of a subjectively perceived necessity. And that opens the door to every lie without exception. After all, in what situations do people even consider lying? In most cases, you will do so if the truth tends to have negative consequences or disadvantages for you. Even if it is only because a short lie can obviously simplify things. Depending on the interpretation, almost every lie could be called a white lie. The need to lie because you don’t have time for the truth. The need to lie to your spouse after having an affair because there is a risk of separation.

Types of lies

It is entirely up to the person telling the lie to decide whether or not to declare the untruth a white lie. In other words, there is no objective difference. The only lie that can be considered okay is one that is not told out of pure self-interest but for an obviously positive reason and that does not cause any disadvantages for anyone, e.g. when planning a surprise for a birthday.

And then there is the kind of lie that is told to protect the other person or a third party, provided it is promptly clarified. This could be seen as a kind of white lie, but not out of necessity. But when I think about it, I quickly realize that it can be difficult to assess a situation objectively enough to justify this type of lie. It requires a high degree of self-reflection if you don’t want to run the risk of lying under the guise of the altruistic Samaritan.

And last but not least, there is perhaps the type of lie that can only be judged as okay on the basis of a consensus, also with prompt clarification, e.g. as a joke, provided that the other person agrees to such jokes.

Generalized lying

That was a brief digression about my current understanding of the topic of “lying”. Much more important, however, is the fact that I didn’t have this understanding as a child and therefore had a problematic relationship with truth and lies well into my adult life. Even worse, it had become so generalized as I grew up that I didn’t even notice when I twisted the truth so much that it was basically no longer true. I often believed my own lies while lying to myself.

This may seem like I was a notorious liar in my youth, but in fact most of the time it wasn’t a serious lie. It was often an embellishment or exaggeration of the truth, e.g. to make myself or experiences seem a little bigger or better.

Growing up, I often found it difficult to distinguish between truth and lies, although I was always intuitively aware of it in some way. My feelings could always tell me what was true and what was false, only my mind was confused.As a result, I often found it difficult to make decisions, always unsure which was the “right” one.It was not uncommon for me to do the opposite of what I actually wanted.I was also very naive because it was easier to believe everything instead of questioning things. And that is the much bigger and more important point: far too often I spread unconscious lies because I was too confident that I knew the truth without ever having checked it out.

A penchant for drama

It all sounds quite dramatic up to this point, especially as your own missteps in life usually weigh the heaviest. And today I am aware that I have always had a penchant for drama and that I emphasized things by often making them bigger than they were, perhaps because I felt they were just as dramatic at the time.Ultimately, I am describing the feelings of my youth and growing up.Who can say that their youth wasn’t dramatic in some way, at least in comparison between adolescence and adulthood.

Now I’ve talked a lot about my past and partly clarified why I asked myself this very question in the past, but it seems we’ve hardly made any progress towards an answer. And yet this part contributes significantly to being able to find an answer at all. Because I don’t want to answer this question philosophically, I want to answer it for myself personally. So the answer can only be just as personal.

Scientific digression

So what is true for me and what is not? How can I know for sure, do I always have to know and is it even possible to always know?

Isn’t the mistake perhaps even that I have always, without exception, made a decision about true or false, even if I couldn’t know for sure?Perhaps I could not bear the fact that there are questions that cannot be answered immediately and possibly even never, especially with the ever-present question of true or false.In science, things are very clear, theories are put forward and their truth is “proven” or falsified, i.e. rejected as false, through experiments. However, verification, i.e. the exact opposite of falsification, is never possible, as every theory only ever comes closer to the truth until it is improved or replaced by a new one. Accordingly, there is no clear and certain truth; even our memory and subjective perception can constantly deceive us. There are, however, clear untruths.

And what I have learned from this is that truths can evolve or be discarded at some point without having to be considered an untruth. It was probably just not yet the whole truth. So sometimes it can be better not to immediately judge whether something is true or false and perhaps remain a little more critical at first, because there is no guarantee of the truth, but there is always the possibility that something is untrue.

This does not mean that we should assume that everyone is lying, whether consciously or unconsciously, but rather that we should adopt a neutral approach. In the same way, it is not much about trust here, on the contrary, this can even offer the greatest danger of encountering untruths. Because absolutely nobody is infallible and that’s okay as long as you are aware of this and question yourself and other people as often as you can.Questioning something never means bad intentions or mistrust; on the contrary, it protects yourself and others from making mistakes and makes it possible to uncover untruths in the first place, for which very few people are probably responsible.

What is true and what is not?

What is true and what is not? I don’t know for sure and that’s okay. I rarely judge anything by it anymore and, above all, I don’t worry about it if it’s not important to me personally. And when it comes to something important, I try to inform myself about it as widely as possible and not rely on unverified statements. Apart from that, I listen to my intuition more often these days when it comes to personal matters that are not “decisive for war”.However, I try to avoid passing something like this on thoughtlessly or by saying that I’m not sure about something. And if it does happen that I have inadvertently passed on an untruth, either because I was a little thoughtless or because I actually fell for an untruth myself, then I clear it up as quickly as possible and try to put it right.

And for me, that’s one of the most important things, to own up to mistakes and put them right instead of letting them fizzle out out of shame or even ignoring them completely. Because if this doesn’t happen, untruths spread like wildfire and sometimes become the truth, even for the general public, simply because it is never questioned and is spread by so many people that often only a few can imagine that it could be an untruth after all… “What everyone says must be right”.

What is true and what is not? One truth I am certain of is that life and the fact that I and other people exist is a blatant miracle and that there are always new truths to discover in our world that make our lives that little bit better. We should not waste our lives and our time with untruths.

And with that, I wish you a truthful life,
Your Leonie ♥


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