How Does Lying Affect Your Mental Health? 10 Surprising Effects Of Telling White Lies

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

It's easy to see why lying might have some damaging effects on your life, since lies are sneaky, malicious, and often hurt others. But did you know telling white lies can have an impact, too? While they might not carry the same weight as a major lie, these smaller fibs still add up — and can even have an affect on your mental health, over time.

"By nature of telling a lie, you are keeping a secret," therapist Leah K. Barison, LPCC tells Bustle. "While we often keep secrets to push something away, the act of concealing in fact gives weight and power to a secret. Think of a time when you told a white lie; did the thing you were hiding seem to grow bigger, scarier, and become more real? This effect can transform a white lie into an uncomfortable, consuming experience." And that's why, even when it comes to telling little, tiny fibs, they can still take a toll on your mental health.

While there are some instances where it might be OK to tell a white lie — and all of us tell a few silly ones, daily — the truth is usually the way to go. "Transparency feels good," Barison says. "When you practice honesty and drop the tendency to edit and censor, you can be more present in your life." And, if you make an effort to figure out why you're lying — possibly by talking to your friends, or a therapist — you really can free up your brain. Here are a few surprising ways white lies can impact your mental health.