Lies: Everyone tells them. If you don’t, you’re lying.
They range from seemingly-harmless platitudes, like “of course your new haircut looks great, honey,” to deep-seeded, life-altering deceptions.
Regardless of the magnitude of the lies we tell, we all have a conscience that chirps at us, like an imaginary Jiminy Cricket reminding us it’s wrong to do. And no wonder! From birth, we’re told nursery rhymes, proverbs and lessons preaching honesty to be “be the best policy.”
Yet, the truth is we all stretch the truth. So why do we lie?
Sometimes white lies are to protect the people we care about, like the wife with the bad haircut. Sometimes lies are meant to protect ourselves, maybe from others’ judgement. And sometimes, lies are born from deeper places. I’m talking about the lies we tell to avoid, cover-up, or flat-out deny our own truths.
Contrary to the proverbs, lying doesn’t make you a bad person. Real life is just isn’t black and white like in the nursery rhymes.
But what happens when what started as a simple, perhaps well-intentioned, falsity affects our lives, or others’, beyond what we ever anticipated? What happens when you struggle to keep up the pretense, or when guilt gnaws at you, or in extreme cases, when you’re so deep in the lie that you alter your life to keep up with it?
Sounds familiar? Let’s move past the philosophical and look at some real-life examples.
Dating. It’s a breeding-ground for lies. When we want to impress a love interest, it’s easy to embellish to make ourselves look better. “Wow, I love camping, too! What a coincidence,” you said, knowing full well that your idea of being outdoors is drinking a beer by the pool. Of course these little inaccuracies can be harmless. But have you ever lied about more personal qualities or situations - like your financial health, sexual history, or relationship status?
Family. Who doesn’t lie to their family at one point or another? Sometimes it’s just easier to avoid lectures or unsolicited advice. Family pressures are no joke. But what if you tell a lie that significantly misrepresents your true self? Sexual orientation, career success, recreational activities, hopes, dreams, wishes - you name it.
If any of these examples resonate with you, you’re not alone. Lying is far more common and pervasive than we will ever know. Most of us want to be liked, accepted, and even loved - and sometimes, we lie in pursuit of these feelings.
However, try to think about what it would be like to speak your truth. You may feel it’s impossible to unravel the lies, especially if they began years ago, they sparked even more lies, or that the implications of “coming clean” are too risky. But what if the freedom that follows truth is far more rewarding? What if the challenges that come with being truthful eventually lead you to a happier, more authentic life? Ideally, life is long, and you deserve to live it free, healthy, and true-to-yourself.
I understand confronting a lie or addressing the truth with the people in your life is a deeply personal decision. It’s one that may take time, weighing the pros and cons. You don’t need to face the decision alone. Speaking with a therapist is a great first step and one that’s free from judgement and bias.
If you would like to discuss, please contact me for a free therapy consultation or to schedule an appointment.