Liar Friend

September 12 2022 | by

Dear Pastoral Counselor: I have a friend who constantly exaggerates the truth or just plain lies to our mutual friends. I’m privy to this because I’m her closest friend and she shares this with me. Although I’m not proud to admit it, we often have a laugh afterwards about the situation and the way in which she misled them. I always thought our gossip was harmless fun and games.

Things changed this past week and now I’ve become the “other friend.” It’s really changed the way I view our relationship and our actions. I’ve also been having a lot of uncomfortable emotions. I’m sorrowful for my actions, but I’m also really, really angry. I can’t stand being this way. I want to make amends for the way I’ve hurt my other friends, but I can’t stop being angry long enough to do anything to fix it. How can I stop being so angry?


I want to first commend your desire to heal the hurt you’ve caused to your friends by your past actions. This is certainly a virtuous desire.

If you’re going to overcome your anger at this situation, you need to know more about the reason why God gave us emotions in the first place. Emotions, such as anger, joy, or sorrow are actually good things in themselves. We need emotions because they serve as, metaphorically, gas to our vehicle. They propel us to overcome obstacles that are preventing us from achieving a good end. They spur us to more prompt execution of whatever we may be doing. 

In relation to anger specifically, Saint Thomas Aquinas speaks of it as a perception of some harm inflicted upon oneself or another with a desire for vindication resulting from this harm (ST II-II 158:1). He expounds that anger can be both good and bad, depending on the circumstances.

What this means is that when anger comes prior to reason, or our ability to think and reflect upon the situation, we see anger as an evil because it was not brought about by reason and therefore by passion. We see this when there’s an automobile accident and, before anything can be done to assess the situation or why it occurred, one or both of the drivers jump out of their cars and start yelling at the other person about how they’re a poor driver and this is all their fault.

When anger comes consequent to reason, or after we have the opportunity to think and reflect, we see anger as a potential good, as correcting an evil can foster virtue. This would apply directly to your situation. The gossiping you participated in was a harm inflicted upon another that needs to be remedied. This is why you’re experiencing anger at what your best friend did to you, as she’s treating you unjustly.

If you’re going to overcome your anger in a healthy manner, your response needs to include two things: restitution and forgiveness. Restitution will come in you making amends with your friends who were harmed by your gossip. You need to apologize and ask for their forgiveness. Forgiveness will come in letting go of the bonds of justice your best friend’s behavior have given you right to by her actions. When someone harms us, they by the virtue of justice we have a responsibility to right their wrong and the damage it has caused. Forgiveness, however, lets go of these bonds and rights our relationship with them.

Forgiveness is the remedy for anger. God in His goodness forgives us for our transgressions when we come to Him and ask for His mercy. Let us imitate Him.


Updated on September 20 2022