How To Start Telling The Truth

By Mary Elizabeth Dean|Updated July 25, 2022

If you seem to be dishonest frequently, whether on accident or on purpose, it's natural to feel worried. After all, lying can affect your relationships, personal, and professional life. However, the fact of the matter is that almost no one is completely truthful all the time. Most people lie from time to time even though lying is a bad habit. Some people tell small lies to keep things calm, but some people practice telling many lies as a way to get ahead. Nearly everyone agrees that to tell the truth is better than telling lies as a greater sense of well being in life. So, understanding this lying habit or compulsion from its root will be helpful in un-learning this behavior. A therapist can help you set achievable goals, form different habits, move past pathological lying, and live in accordance with your values. The first thing to understand when talking about pathological dishonesty is what the difference is between involuntary and normal behavior. If you're trying to learn ways to improve or looking to live a more honest life, it's important to look at your behavior – including thoughts – leading up to telling a lie. Continue reading for advice and tips for improvement.

Don't Let Compulsive Lying Ruin Your Relationships & Your Life

What Is Uncontrollable Dishonesty?

If you find yourself telling a friend she looks great even when her new dress is not your style, or telling your partner that you love the meal they've cooked, even though it's not the best, that's not compulsive lying. Those are considered ‘white lies.' It's something we tell that doesn't hurt anyone, and also keeps them from getting hurt. These types of small lies are generally forgiven and forgivable, even if the person never knows you lied. People tend to do this out of habit in daily life as a better response than an unnecessary harsh truth. There are fewer consequences to be caught lying like this. Then there are gray lies, which are the subtle lies we tell most frequently to other people. Gray lies are not just to protect someone’s feelings but to make ourselves feel good (or avoid trouble) as well. Lying is also a natural reaction to fear of unacceptance of the truth. Online therapy can help you understand the difference between compulsive lying and casual white lies every now and again.

Sometimes these lies can stem from anxiety, or feeling nervous, sad, upset, angry, or mad and trying to take it out in a different way. The steps and treatment for problems in telling the truth or gaining trust are quite simple. In reality, it can become an addiction to lie, especially if you grow up around parents who are big in deception or withheld facts from you-- this is something a psychologist can help with, in understanding your needs and can point to where these symptoms or actions stem from. Having low self-esteem can also damage relationships when you use words in an effort to belittle or gaslight others. Research and articles is the next resource that can help in order to better understand the stories you tell yourself and the purposes (and possibly even diagnosis) for being a compulsive liar. Someone with an LCSW certification or working in psychology is a great person to talk to about the temptation to lie, as well as the urge or benefits you receive from it.

If you often find yourself lying more frequently about more things out of a bad habit, however, you may be a compulsive or pathological liar. People who lie compulsively often do it to:

  • Make themselves look better
  • Gain some sort of personal benefit
  • Control someone else
  • Cover up their bad behavior or avoid serious consequences
  • Because it's second nature

Avoid losing friends, family members, and jobs when they are caught lying in the first place

If you seem to be dishonest frequently, whether on accident or on purpose, it's natural to feel worried. Understanding this habit or compulsion from its root will be helpful in un-learning this behavior. A therapist can help you set achievable goals, form different habits, and live in accordance with your values. The first thing to understand when talking about pathological dishonesty is what the difference is between involuntary and normal behavior.

Learning To Improve

So just how are you going to stop lying and begin to tell the truth? It's not going to be an easy process to stop lying, but it's one that you can engage in with some work to become a person who will tell the truth out of habit. BetterHelp can find you a professional who won't judge you and will be on your side from day one, so you can start the process of learning how to stop being dishonest. Here are some considerations to think about when making a sincere attempt to stop lying and make a change for the better if you think you may have a lying problem:

Make Yourself Accountable. Sometimes it feels tempting to do things if we think we'll be able to get away with it or that it isn’t a big deal. How will you feel about that decision to lie to a person later though? Be accountable to yourself whenever you speak, and make sure you tell the truth, even if no one will find out that you lied. Be honest with yourself about why you're lying as well-what do you hope to accomplish? What is your end game? What is easier in this situation about lying versus telling the truth? Remember, with lying, there are often consequences more severe than the truth.

Telling the Truth Is Easier. It's a whole lot easier to tell the truth, even though you may be used to lying. Think about all those times you’ve told lies instead of the truth. Keeping track of every single lie you’ve said, especially when they’re about your personal life can be exhausting. You must remember everything you said to this person or that person when you lie out of habit.

If you tell the truth, you don't have to struggle to remember how to cover the tracks of lying behavior with more lies. You can just relax. Lies often start as something that may seem small or insignificant but could end up costing you or someone else in a way you didn't intend. Can you think of any ways that lying has cost you or someone else something you wouldn't have had to pay?

Omission Is the Same As Lying. If you fail to disclose important information to someone, even when you know it's necessary, it's the same as lying. If someone is looking for their phone and you know where it is but don't tell them, that is still an example of dishonest behavior, which might make you feel like you won and control the world. It may not seem as obvious as telling a lie outright, but if you're ready to practice some radical honesty, lies of omission also must stop. It is important to stop lying and telling the truth, or you will have to face the consequences which build up for a lying person over time. 

The Truth Will Likely Come Out. You may have already experienced the consequences of this one. If you're not telling the truth, sooner or later something unexpected will probably happen that exposes your lies. Your long-estranged mother might walk into the office one day to tell your receptionist all about that great party you threw for her last weekend. Or your close friend will stop by the soup kitchen you (supposedly) volunteer every Friday and find out you've never been there. The smallest lies can unravel quickly, even when no one is intending to prove you wrong, and you will be left with the consequences from the habit of lying.

man and woman sitting at a cafe table drinking coffee and having a conversation

Don't Let Compulsive Lying Ruin Your Relationships & Your Life

The Truth May Not Be So Scary. Sometimes people lie to feel a sense of security or to hide something about themselves they don't think others will like or accept. It can be hard to take a leap of faith that people will accept you as you are, not a person you fabricated or tried to make "better" in some way.

Consider giving the people in your life a chance, and you might be surprised in a great way when you discover they can digest it. It's like a rainbow- blue, green, black,, orange, yellow, pink, purple, beauty that you only see when you let it be as it is. 

Decrease Stress. For some people, lying can be a stress reaction. You may have been in a situation where you felt so overwhelmed that you could not think straight enough to feel like you could come up with a good answer, and the result ended up being a lie. Lying serves to take the pressure off in this way. Sometimes, people genuinely do not even realize they're telling lies if lying is an almost automatic reaction to stress. In these types of cases, someone else might be calling to your attention that what you said was untrue. Learning some healthy methods to identify and cope with stress could help this type of lying. Over time the consequences of the habit of lying and not telling the truth inevitably leads to more stress.

Start Small. It's overwhelming to think you must change all at once to stop lying, especially when telling so many lies has become a habit. Start by telling people a few true things every day. Set a goal for yourself. Don't say "I won't lie today" because that can be very hard to achieve at the beginning of your process. Set a specific goal on how many true things you'll say that day about yourself. Maybe you start with three or four, but you want to start small and work your way up from there to stop lying.

The content found through a comment or written by an author online regarding a menu on yelp or a serious situation with a husband is not always trust worthy- remember to check the page and content before believing everything you see.

Before you know it, you're going to be in the habit of telling the truth, and you'll see the immense positive impact it has on your relationships and your overall life.

two men sitting at desk while looking at laptop smiling 

BetterHelp Can Support You In Improving And Recovering From Bad Habits 

If you want to get help, but you have trouble finding the time, BetterHelp can help you find a therapist that can work with your schedule. BetterHelp is an online platform that gives you access to trained therapists from the comfort of your home. You won't have to worry about stuffy waiting rooms or uncomfortable conversations with a new counselor. A therapist can help you work through your reasons for lying, as well as give you tools and resources to stop lying, such as daily strategies or connections with a support group with people with similar issues. You'll have someone who cares and is ready to help at your fingertips. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.

BetterHelp Therapist Reviews

"Douglas has helped me realize and find a way to break a pattern that I've been having for the last few weeks and probably lifelong. This is going to help me improve my relationships and my life will be more fulfilling. I'm glad I got to talk to Douglas, I can sense he is a great professional."

"Nancy is one of the best counselors I've ever had, and I have had many. She's very down to earth and in touch with me emotionally. Our sessions are always productive and thought-provoking. I highly recommend Nancy to anyone who wants a forthright, no-nonsense approach. If you don't want to think and talk very honestly about yourself, find somebody else. Nancy is going for the truth to really help."

Final Thoughts On Dishonesty And When To Stop Lying

Even though you might be comfortable in the way you're coping, there's always a better way. You deserve to feel free from the stress and discomfort that comes from your compulsive lying, and the people around you don't deserve to be manipulated through lying. Take the first step today and find a therapist who can help you stop lying and start telling the truth instead so you can improve your personal relationships and encourage personal growth. Whether online or at their private practice, mental health professionals can offer you the tools to overcome pathological lying. 

Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:

Why can't I stop lying?
Why do I lie so much?
Can a compulsive liar change?
Is lying a sin?
Why do I tell little lies?
Is lying a symptom of depression?
Is lying genetic?
What are the 17 signs of lying?
What are the 5 signs that someone is lying?
What is the one thing all liars have in common?

Still Wondering How To Stop?

If you're struggling with stopping lying and would like to recover from lying as a coping mechanism, therapy can support you in curbing the habit. Therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go to it seeking the same things whether for stopping bad habits or otherwise. Keeping this in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy for lying, regardless of what your specific goals are. If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you, and what amount therapy costs to start, please don't hesitate to contact us at contact@betterhelp.com. BetterHelp specializes in online therapy to address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual therapy, reach out today to get started. To learn more about BetterHelp as a company and careers, please find us on:

If you need a crisis hotline or want to learn more about therapy, please see below:

To learn more about mental health, please see:

Get help now:

  • Emergency: 911
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1- 800-799-7233
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “DESERVE” TO 741-741
  • Lifeline Crisis Chat (Online live messaging): https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
  • Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (366-8288)
  • Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228
  • Planned Parenthood Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
  • American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
  • National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line: 1-800-622-2255
  • National Crisis Line - Anorexia and Bulimia: 1-800-233-4357
  • LGBTQ+ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
  • TREVOR Crisis Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
  • AIDS Crisis Line: 1-800-221-7044
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.