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Refuse to Be A Hypocrite

  • Dr. Neil Clark Warren for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 21 Jul
Refuse to Be A Hypocrite

I've listened to a lot of people through the years discussing the way they present themselves to friends and family.  I have become strongly convinced that telling and being the truth is always friendlier in the long run than anything less than the truth.

As you date and explore relationships that have a possibility of becoming lifelong commitments, it becomes even more important to make your words and actions identical. Unfortunately, it can be harder than it seems. During the first few dates of a new relationship we all try to put our best foot forward. "If I can make this person like me, THEN it will be easier for them to accept my faults and eccentricities," we often rationalize.

But the best way to determine if a person is really right for you is to be the person you claim to be, own the opinions you voice, and speak the truth about yourself even when it isn't flattering. The person who shares your vision and opinion is the person you want to consider as a mate.

I remember reading a story of a piano manufacturer who tried to get a testimonial from Will Rogers for his pianos.  Rogers, who never endorsed any product unless he totally believed in it, wrote this letter to the piano firm: "Dear Sirs:  I guess your pianos are the best I ever leaned against.  Yours truly, Will Rogers."  Refusing to be a phony, under any circumstances, may cost you for a few moments, but the long-term effect is enormously positive.

There is something magnificently "unhypocritical" about little children.  They just plain tell the truth!

I imagine you have encountered many a life event similar to this one:

"How do you do, my dear?" said the old lady to the little girl.

"Quite well, thank you," was the polite reply.

There was a pause and then the old lady asked, "Why don't you ask me how I am?"

"Because," said the child calmly, "I'm not interested."

"Hypocrisy is all about the false profession of desirable or publicly approved qualities, beliefs, or feelings," says Webster's Dictionary.  "It is a pretense of having virtues, moral principles, or religious beliefs that one does not really possess."

If we could learn to shun hypocrisy like it was the Bubonic Plague, we would save ourselves an enormous amount of trouble.  This is the case for two reasons.

First, our deep-down contentment as persons depends upon our being who we truly are. 

Secondly, hypocrisy violates and devastates every relationship of which it becomes a part.  When persons begin to recognize that we often present ourselves in false ways, ways designed to produce a certain effect on them, they lose their confidence in us.  Lost confidence produces defensiveness.  Defensiveness blocks intimacy and keeps our interactions superficial.  When this happens, our relationships fail to satisfy and fulfill us.  It all starts with hypocrisy-that attempt to bypass the inner truth in an effort to produce a more desirable effect.  The result of this short-sighted effort is inevitably negative.

The Apostle Paul could never be charged with hypocrisy.  He went right to the heart of the matter, and he presented himself with forthrightness and precision.  As a matter of fact, he found Peter's behavior shameful and unacceptable.  He confronted him in spite of what this might have meant to their relationship.

Shun hypocrisy!  If you do, your relationships will be fresh and alive, and you will inspire in every person you know the kind of trust and respect that always leads to a depth of caring that produces lifelong and satisfying friendships.

It all starts with being true within yourself.  As one father said to his son in Shakespeare's Hamlet: "This above all; to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."


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