“I lie a lot. Sometimes it’s to hide my mistakes, and sometimes it’s to build myself up by claiming to have done things I really haven’t. How do I break this bad habit?”
Even “little white lies” are dishonest.
Build yourself up by obeying true principles.
Always tell the truth, and you won’t have to worry.
Make it a habit to be honest.
Learn to love the truth.
You probably know better than anyone how many problems you create when you start to lie—even when you don’t mean to hurt anyone. One lie easily leads to another, and soon you get to the point where you can’t recall what you really said. It is much less complicated to always tell the truth. Then you don’t have to remember what you made up.
It sounds like you’ve gotten into the habit of depending on other people’s opinions of you for your own sense of worth. You may worry that if someone knows you’ve made a mistake, it will detract from your worth as a person. You may think if you can impress someone, it will make you feel better about yourself. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really work.
To build yourself up in a good way so that you won’t feel the need to lie, ask for the Lord’s help. Pray specifically to to see the good in yourself. You can also read about people from the scriptures and from good literature who have overcome hardships and emulate their traits. And remember that the Lord has promised to help us with our weaknesses. He has counseled us: “If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
So how do you get out of the trap of lying? Try telling one truth at a time, time after time, until always being honest becomes your new habit. If you slip, don’t let the lie linger. Quickly correct yourself by saying something like, “Excuse me. That wasn’t totally honest. What I meant to say was … ”—and fill in the blank.
Practice being honest. Honesty will become a great foundation for the kind of reputation you really want to have. Build yourself up by being known as someone who is truthful and trustworthy. If you build your reputation on those principles, as well as on keeping the commandments, you will never have to pretend to be something you are not.
If you feel the need for additional help, counsel with your parents and perhaps your bishop. Along your path to change, pray continually that with the Lord’s help you can become strong. Learn to love the truth (see 2 Nephi 9:40).
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, put it this way: “We all need to know what it means to be honest. Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. … All of us can climb high when we honor every form of truth” (“Honesty—a Moral Compass,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 41, 44). NE
You should start by repenting. Try your hardest to stop yourself from lying. Remember that people will find out about your lies, and there will be consequences. Eventually, you will become more confident about yourself, and you won’t feel the need to lie anymore. Brianna P., Victoria, Australia
What I do is just do everything that I’m asked to do to the best of my ability. Then I have no need to lie or not tell the whole truth, because I did the right thing in the first place. Kayley M., 14, Utah
Think about what you are doing. Is this the path you want? When you lie you lead yourself away from your Heavenly Father. Pray in faith and ask to be strong against the devil and the lies he wants you to tell. Matthew H., 15, Arizona
Make the decision now not to lie. Then, when you are faced with temptation, you don’t have to face it as a question because you’ve already decided to tell the truth. Telling the truth is like paying tithing; it is only hard when you are not firm in your decision. Always tell the truth no matter what! Good will come of it. Alex E., 17, Arizona
A lie is a hard thing to fix, whether it’s used to try to build yourself up in the eyes of others, or whether it’s something untrue you say about someone else. If we realize that the Lord loves us and that we become more Christlike as we do our very best to keep His commandments, including honesty, then we don’t need to lie to make ourselves look good. Others will love us as we do our best to follow Him. Elder Dustin Shepherd, 21, Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission
If you have to lie to give yourself a sense of importance, then you have forgotten who you are. All you have to do is realize that you are a son or daughter of God, and then you won’t need to lie to build yourself up. The feeling of self-worth comes from that realization. Caitlin M., 17, California
Alma 12:3 reads, “for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God.” That’s big. If we lie to men, we lie to God. “Do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord … ?” (Alma 5:17). That’s a scary thought. I don’t want to stand before the Lord at the Judgment and have Him tell me I can’t live with Him in His kingdom because I lied. Through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and through prayer, we can be forgiven and receive help to break this terrible habit. Elder Steven Jay Brown, 20, Alabama Birmingham Mission
I used to lie a lot, too, until I tried just telling the truth a couple of times. I found it was easier to tell the truth than trying to remember all those things you lied about. If you keep up telling the truth, people will trust you more. Makayla J., 14, Utah
When we are humble, we will not take others’ honor upon us. Humility helps us be what we are and not what others are. Recognizing and admitting our mistakes, plus humility, helps us shun the spirit of lying. Elder Ohwofasa Edgar Eriabie, 25, Nigeria Enugu Mission
“Church leaders are always giving us rules to follow. Aren’t they taking away our agency when they tell us what to do all the time?”
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Please respond by December 15, 2006.