11 Apr Don’t let lying become a destructive habit
Great big lies, little white lies, one-off lies, an intricate web of deception, premeditated, or off the cuff lies – it really doesn’t matter, these are all lies and they will all have an impact sooner or later.
The issue of not telling the truth comes up time and time again when talking to parents who are worried their children have got into habit of telling lies. So much so that they lie when there doesn’t even appear to be any point in telling a lie.
The last thing that a parent, friend, brother or sister wants is not to be able to believe someone they love and care about. So why do people lie?
Why is lying a problem – be honest with yourself?
What was the last lie you told? Honestly? It could be that it felt like nothing at all when you said it, but on reflection it is certainly a mistruth. Even if it was said without thinking and was unintentional, but wasn’t entirely true, think about it.
How often do you get asked ‘how are you?’ and reply ‘fine’, even though that really is not the case. Have you told someone they were doing a great job but secretly inside thought ‘but you could have done so much better’?
These may not be seen as deliberate lies, designed to deceive, but they are examples of where we stray from the truth. And it is all these little lies, the habit of lying, that adds up.
“Lies were like acid, corrosive: They could dissolve trust in a heartbeat.”
Why do people lie?
However, we only really associate a problematic impact with serious, big lies. We’ve all been there at some time and the first time that you tell a big lie it is so at odds with who you are that you feel a truly deep sense of guilt. You will have no doubt felt bad about it, and even a bit sick inside, but once a lie is out it is too late.
You could, of course, have listened to your body telling you that lying was a bad thing to do and immediately owned up and told the truth. But, most likely, you got away with it – or thought you had got away with it – and, as a result, each lie that followed you felt less bad about.
It is as if your body has accepted that it’s not necessarily at odds with you not telling the truth. Like your nervous system tells you that you are indeed a liar, it has become part of your identity.
If you were to look at yourself under a microscope you are pure energy – vibrating at a frequency. Our energy affects and infects the people around us and we have our own resonant frequency within us.
But, of the 6.5 billion people on the planet, a surprising amount resonate at a frequency below the level of integrity. People have affairs and keep it a secret, some students cheat on tests and applicants at times falsify information to get jobs. Statistics suggest that the average person lies between 1 and 200 times a day.
Part of the problem is that telling people what they want to hear, can get people what they want. This is something you might class as a ‘white lie’ – but really what is a ‘white lie’? It is a name someone made up to relieve the guilt of telling a fib. Simply put, if it is not the truth, it is a lie. Where do you draw the line otherwise?
Every lie has a consequence
Such is the relation between your mental and physical states that it has been claimed that telling a lie, however inconsequential, can even weaken the body.
In the course of his work, American psychiatrist David R. Hawkins tested the correlation between lying and human strength on thousands of patients, finding that the body remained strong when participants told the truth but weakened when they told even a small lie.
With that in mind, consider what is happening to you if, in the course of a week, you tell up to a dozen small lies? You could be conditioning your body to be weak.
“My father always told me that what’s wrong with lying is that it’s an admission of weakness. If you’re the strongest, you can afford to tell the truth.”
K. J. PARKER
Why do people lie?
Tracing the beginning of a lying habit leads back to survival techniques where a learned behavior is constantly reinforced.
If a child takes some biscuits and is honest about it but is then punished, yet lies the next time she takes biscuits and is not punished, what pattern does that establish? It’s all too easy to see. As hard as it can be in the moment, don’t ever punish children for being honest.
Think about the last lie you told and why you told it. Was it to protect someone else’s feelings? Or was it to protect your own feelings because it would feel bad telling the truth? Or did you pretend you were someone or something different to feel significant or to make a connection?
Rather than finding pleasure in telling the truth and feeling pain in lying, the brain starts to look for reasons to make it ok to lie as we are conditioned to see pain in telling the truth and an avoidance of pain in lying.
Damaging trust through lies
Over time all those little white lies will affect your physical and mental health by impacting your nervous system, causing anxiety, worry, depression and insecurity. It’s not only yourself that you can cause harm to through habitual lying but your relationships with others as well.
Keep in mind that your unconscious does usually know when people lie to you. You can feel it.
People usually know when someone is lying – that is how parents know their children are lying. When someone knows they are being lied to it always causes tension in the relationship, leading to a lack of openness and trust. People feel they have to be more cautious around that person and cannot trust anything that is said.
It is incredibly difficult to be close to someone that you cannot trust. Your relationship with the truth may have even deteriorated to the point that you can’t even trust yourself anymore.
“You may tell the greatest lies and wear a brilliant disguise, but you can’t escape the eyes of the one who sees right through you.”
Challenge yourself to tell no lies
Honestly, how good is your relationship with the truth? There is a way too check. Used by ‘Power of Truth’ lecturer Gary King, this challenge will give you the insight you need:
- Make a note of the time – and now set yourself a goal of not telling a single lie for the next 24 hours. Not one. Not even a little white lie.
- During this time note how many times you would have usually resorting to telling a lie and ask yourself why.
- Let yourself feel what it is like to tell the truth instead – it may be challenging but it will be freeing.
It is time to embrace honesty, integrity and truth. Lies compromise the quality of our life so leave that habit behind.
Choose the life you want to lead
Telling the truth will help you to feel confident in who you are as a person. It is also essential to nurturing trusting relationships with family, friends and partners. Trust is at the heart of all relationships so beware not to damage that with habitual lying.
If you have struggled with trust or in being honest with yourself and those around you, look for support and advice from our community.
Enjoy the challenge and see how much of an insight it gives you into the casual way we can treat the truth.