I think it’s fairly safe to say that being lied to, especially when we’ve doubted the hell out of ourselves to believe the person in question, cuts deep. All past experiences of honesty (and lies) influence our attitude not just towards being honest but how we respond when we discover that we’re being lied to.
In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I talk about why people tell lies, why it’s possible to lie but with the intent of pretending to be something we’re not to avoid vulnerability not to screw people over, and why, for example, how loving we are won’t make someone who avoids honesty be truthful.
Some nuggets from the episode:
- Lying on CVs/resumes is really prevalent. People lie about their level of experience. They exaggerate their hobbies, interests and volunteering to position themselves in a particular way.
- Whether they’re ‘white’ lies, ‘big’ lies, exaggerations or whatever, they reveal someone’s insecurities as well as their honesty levels.
- When we realise that someone has lied, especially with something that we regard as entirely unnecessary (e.g. pretending that they play football), we wonder Why bother with the lie? And we wonder what it says about this person. Some of us, even, have an attitude of If you’re going to lie, go big or go home.
- When people feel rocked by someone’s lie from a place of “I never tell lies. I’m the most honest person”, I always encourage them to check in with themselves. It doesn’t mean that they’re ‘wrong’ to be uncomfortable due to the lie, but judging someone from a place of insisting that you’re always honest reveals a big blind spot.
Everybody has lied (or will). This is because we often pretend to be something that we’re not. We often try to spare people’s feelings. We struggle to say ‘no’ or even ‘maybe’ so then we will have to get out of that. And…. so we will often pad things out, pack in a whole load of fluff.
- So many people struggle to say no. We can’t just say no, we have to tell some big-ass story.
- It’s not that some of us necessarily set out to deceive or screw over anyone, it’s that we’re so insecure about being ourselves that we don’t realise how it leads to us living a lie.
Reasons why people lie:
- To gain an advantage. In their mind, the truth puts them at a disadvantage. They wouldn’t be able to get near that person or the situation if the truth were known.
- To get or avoid certain things. We lie, for example, to gain attention, affection, approval, love or validation, or to avoid conflict, criticism, stress, rejection, disappointment, loss and abandonment.
- To buy time. It’s, for instance, buying time to figure out how we’re going to handle things, to manage that person’s feelings. We are waiting for the ideal conditions for them to be receptive to the truth.
- Not feeling as if the other party deserves the truth. It’s this need-to-know-basis mentality where, for instance, someone suppresses the fact that they’re already married or in a relationship. Sometimes we don’t feel that somebody deserves the truth because we’re angry with them about a past hurt and so admitting the truth would seem like conceding. We wouldn’t, for instance, get to feel like the victim anymore.
Drip-feeding: getting the truth (or lies) in instalments.
- To make ourselves appear more attractive. We think that this is how to market ourselves. We think that the [exaggerated] hobbies and interests, the charity work, etc, say something about us as a person.
- We’re afraid that we’re going to be judged.
- We don’t see the lie as a lie. Joe in ‘You’, for example, thinks that his stalking, lies and hugely inappropriate behaviour are ‘love’.
- Because we want to fulfil someone’s fantasy. Sometimes it’s our perception of what we think they want. That person really wants this so I’m going to be it. Or, we become aware that the person isn’t interested in the truth. They want the fantasy. So we sell them the big dream.
- Fear of vulnerability. What if I tell this person about that thing and they judge me? What if they end it? What if they don’t want to be my friend anymore or that they that I’m a really bad person?
Whatever we shame ourselves or feel insecure about is likely to become an area where we have a higher propensity to lie. We might not see it as a lie, we might see it as self-protection.
- Pretending our needs are far less than what they are is a lie.
- Passive-aggressive people lie (and blame you for it) because they reason, for example, that they have to behave this way because people can’t handle the truth. When you’re understandably upset over the lie, they use that as evidence of their belief while ignoring that they, um, lied, and that that’s what you’re responding to.
- The reason why somebody lies to us is based on their associations with honesty: what they believe being honest means. If somebody feels that they’re going to be at a disadvantage by being honest with us, about being honest about who they are, they’ll lie. This has nothing to do with how much effort we have put into the relationship.
How much we’ll lie depends on:
- How much we want to change people’s perception of us or make people feel good about themselves to get what we want.
- Seeing things through this lens of ‘Everyone is my persecutor’. If I’m honest, it’s going to invite things I don’t want.
- How much we need to lie to ourselves.
- What will it mean if I believe what they’re telling me or doing? Who will I get to be or what will I have to do? Conversely, what will it mean if I don’t believe what they’re saying or doing? What will I have to be or do as a result? Our answers offer a clue why, for example, we might buy into someone’s Future Faking.
- For a lie to work, it needs to be plausible. Now, plausible is subjective, but a grain of truth can be enough for some. Our perception of boundaries influences our perception of plausibility.
- We tell white lies to, for example, get out of things, to avoid hurting people’s feelings or conflict, or to dodge introspection.
- Be honest, not because you expect to be rewarded but because it’s who you are.
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