Barton Goldsmith column: All bad things in life start with a lie

It is a mistake to think that any belief has ultimate power over the truth.

Barton Goldsmith
Barton Goldsmith is a columnist for Tribune News Service. (TNS)
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All bad things in life start with a lie. Perhaps it’s one of the lies you tell yourself, like “I’m not good enough.” That lie can hold you back from many things. Then there are the lies others tell you to manipulate their way to getting what they want. That may cost you some money, time, and heartache, but you do recover and learn. Perhaps the most devastating is a lie that someone completely makes up to hurt you or try to ruin your life.

Of course, there are now more people than ever, nearly half the country, who believe that lying to get what you want, be it power, money or revenge, is now the way of the world and perfectly acceptable. That woman who attacked the young black man in New York after falsely accusing him of stealing her iPhone is saying he attacked her — even though the truth is all on video. And there are people, mostly racist people, who believe her because they want to.

It is a mistake to think that any belief has ultimate power over the truth. But some beliefs may get so popular and be shared by so many people that they can cause an uprising and make things horrible for the rest of us.

Lying comes from selfishness. Any liar wants what they want, and they don’t care who they have to hurt to get it, and if it’s someone they are mad at, so much the better. Are you feeling me? Because if you are, then it has happened to you, and the pain is a lot harder to get rid of than a bad habit.


Unfortunately, the cultural lies that people tell themselves happen globally as well as in the schoolyard or on the job. On top of that, the personal lies that people spread about others can make life hell. When your value system is called into question, and you fear how this will make you look to the people in your world, it can be crazy-making. You can’t stop other people from saying what they want. Sure, you can threaten to sue, but the damage has been done, and unless you’re a star with a bankroll, it won’t go anywhere.

I have watched good lives get put on hold because someone told a lie. I have seen people put in jail because of a lie that someone they were married to told. I have held the hands of a kind-hearted dying man who only wanted to know the truth about why his children were turned against him. He thought making a fortune for his family would keep them closer, not tear them apart with fabrications about who did what to whom.

Lies only hurt. Let’s remember that. Let’s not forget the damage that can be done, and maybe we will all get to live better lives, even though we are sharing a very difficult time.

Lies are always uncovered. Always. That may not help you right now, but it is something to hold on to.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at ©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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