Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why You Should Always Do the Right Thing, Even When No One But You Will Ever Know the Difference

Have you been around the block a few times?

Then you know how hard it is to get along in the world. Life has a way of challenging you on a regular basis. You end up having to make hard decisions and do hard things. I've known people who preferred to look for an easy way out; and if they saw one, they took it, seemingly oblivious to the consequences.

As I write this, I’m in my seventh decade of life. And here’s something I've learned: if you do something you know you shouldn't do, it’s very, very hard to avoid the consequences.

It’s amazing how this works. Cause and effect rule, and the consequences roll in. Other people eventually find out. You might lose respect, trust, friendship, support, or money. You might even go to jail.

On the other hand, sometimes misdeeds go undiscovered. But the odds are heavily stacked against you.

Here’s the deal: Even if no one ever finds out what you did, in an important sense you’ll never get away with it. Because you can never hide the truth from yourself. You’ll know what you did.

Why is this a big deal?

Take a telling a lie. Lies are hard to cover up. It takes more effort than you might think to cover your tracks and keep a lie from being discovered. But even if no one ever finds out, you know that instead of being strong and facing up to the truth, you were weak and hid behind the lie. Somewhere in your brain is this truth: I’m someone who lied. I wasn't strong enough to tell the truth. I’m a dishonest person.

You may not like these thoughts, and you may try to dismiss them. But you can't delete them. They'll always be stored somewhere in the database of your memory.

And they will tear down your self-esteem.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2013. Building Personal Strength .

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