In the words of Dr Gregory House M.D, “Everybody lies”. Of course, Greg (as I like to call him) was certified crazy, but he was also, almost always where patients were concerned, right. Everybody does lie. Big lies, small lies, white lies, fibs, versions of the truth, alternative facts … Whatever you refer to them as, they are still just lies, regardless of the spirit in which they were told or the intention behind them.
Now, whilst I’m not suggesting that we all go about admitting our lies to everyone we’ve ever told one to,or that we all do a mass confession of our pretences, on Facebook, I am going to advocate being just a little bit more honest with ourselves. You see, if we’re more honest with ourselves, at some point along the lie-making process, we might discover why we told the lie in the first place, and it can help us look at the lies we’ve made in the past, the reasons behind those lies and hopefully eliminate the need to tell further lies.
Lies can generally be put in to five categories. Below are these categories and what might really be going on, to construct and perpetuate those lies.
1.Lies that make others look bad, (and you look better) e.g “He was really lazy all day and never pulls his weight” or “I know what you mean, I’ve never liked her either”.
Possible reasons for lying: you have low self-esteem, hold an unresolved grudge, want to be seen to identify with someone who holds that same opinion.
2. Covering your mistakes or blaming others, e.g “my alarm didn’t go off” or “I told her weeks ago I needed that report”.
Possible reasons for lying: low self-esteem, avoiding responsibility, self preservation or fear of confrontation.
3. Lies to make others feel better / protect them from the truth
Possible reasons for lying: You feel a responsibility to that person, to avoid confrontation, protecting them makes you feel like a better person or you gain a sense of a power by withholding information from them.
4. Lies to get you out of something you’ve committed to, e.g “I’m sorry sorry I can’t make it, I’m not feeling very well” or “something’s come up and I can’t make it”.
Possible reasons for lying: You lied about wanting to do the thing in the first place (to make the person feel better? – see above!), you’ve had second thoughts and don’t want to have to justify your reasoning (because you don’t think your reasoning is good enough? – see ‘self esteem’!) or you undervalue your own time and energy and can’t admit to wanting control over both( again, with the lack of self esteem!)
5. Erm … that’s pretty much it. You’ve probably realised by now that almost any lie you’ve ever told is probably down to the fact that you have low self-esteem, you’re covering your ass or you want to keep the peace.
All of these reasons, in isolation, are perfectly natural human impulses and are, on occasion, completely necessary. The problems arise when these behaviours become habitual, constant and damaging , either to yourself or other people. With social media, technology and an ever more complicated world, there are a thousand excuses, cover-ups and justifications at our fingertips, making it easier than ever to construct our versions of the truth. It’s become the norm to have a highly filtered profile picture, to embellish on a situation to gain more ‘likes’ or align yourself with certain opinions, to feel like you have found your tribe, but, keeping up with your own lies, stories and versions of the truth can be exhausting and ultimately you either get found out, admit to your wrong-doing anyway or it slowly eats away at your conscience, only to manifest itself in some other area of your life.
No one on this Earth is 100% honest, 100% of the time but I think that by recognising our go-to style of lying and acknowledging just how often we indulge it, we can maybe start to at least reduce the amount or scale of lies that we tell, hopefully leading to a simpler, happier and more authentic lifer ourselves, and those on the receiving end.