Have you ever told a lie? Most of us have even if it was a ‘little white lie’ that protected the feelings of someone we love. Sometimes a lie is kind “no honey, those pants don’t make your butt look big”. Sometimes a lie is compassionate “I’m sure he didn’t feel any pain in those last moments”. Sometimes a lie is polite “these muffins are wonderful”. Sometimes a lie has good intentions – when planning a surprise.
Most of the time however, a lie is never just one and the series becomes problematic, hurtful, and full of consequences. Most lies generate hurt at some point or another… even the ones we tell because we ‘think’ we are protecting someone or ourselves, when it is discovered. Truth is always the better choice. The motivation for lies is frequently because we are protecting ourselves from consequences we’d rather not face. And then there are the lies we tell ourselves….
As a counselor, I find these are the most destructive lies… the ones that prevail and generate inner conflict. It could be something that started rather harmlessly and then another lie had to be told, and another, and so on… until the truth is deeply buried and there is no escape from the seriousness of consequences if it be told.
I find that lies are told as a way to defend against insecurity:
“Sure I went to college” – never graduated
“I’m not sure why the diet isn’t working” – closet eater
“I tried my best” – didn’t know how
We lie so that we can be the people we think someone wants us to be – so that we won’t disappoint someone. Somewhere deep in our subconscious we believe that if we ‘tell’ someone we possess the attribute they are seeking, they will like/love/accept us more so than if we are just ourselves. We are afraid of being rejected.
Interestingly enough, it is the same principle of the salesman who tells us what we want to hear about a product… regardless of the validity, just to make the sale. We don’t like or accept that behavior in sales people but we do it with our feelings all the time.
“What’s wrong honey?”
“nothing” and “yes” are lies that affect US internally…. we know that isn’t the truth but we are resistant to share our true thoughts because we
- we don’t want to start a conflict
- we are afraid to be rejected
- we don’t feel we will receive a compassionate response, etc.
Lies create space between the person we are and the person we present to the world – the space where shame, fear, and helplessness sit and fester into anxiety, depression, and panic.
Telling (and knowing) the truth is important not only so that the consequences don’t hurt people in our environment but critical for our inner sense of well-being. We must start by making the change to be truthful with ourselves…. To be brave enough to face the consequence, the possibility that when we are real…. Present our ‘true’ selves to the world – that we will be accepted and loved for exactly whom we are, that we can start a dialogue, and that we will be respected.
There is great freedom in telling the truth.
“What’s wrong honey?”