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June Converse

Thriving After Trauma - Author and Writing Coach

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!: Why We Lie

Are You A Liar?

Before you answer with an emphatic ‘no’, let’s look at all the ways one can lie:

  • Intentional deception
  • Intentional omission
  • Unintentional deception or omission (does unintentional mean it’s not a lie?)
  • Exaggeration OR Minimization
  • The “White Lie”
  • The “I’m fine” line (a form of minimization)

I’m sure there are others but my guess is that you can find yourself somewhere in the list.  My favorite type of lie is exaggeration.  I’ve talked to my therapist about this on several occasions and I still can’t figure out why I do it.

Who am I trying to impress anyway?

Why We Lie

I read a profound sentence yesterday:

“’When you lie, it makes you feel in charge of your life.’”

Cider House Rules by John Irving

Holy cow – that explains it perfectly, doesn’t it?  Lies make us feel powerful (and then guilty).  When we lie we get a bit of control over what people think or know about us.  We get to alter their opinion.  Let’s take this a step further, a bit deeper….

Why Do We Need Such Control?

My most recent lie … I told my husband that I didn’t want to go out to dinner.  I added to that by saying I wanted to save money.

Don’t I sound so virtuous?  I realize that’s a “minor” lie in the scheme of things but I want to illustrate my point.

  • My lie:  I desperately wanted to go out to dinner -- I was tired and I didn’t feel like going to all that work. 
  • My second lie:  I didn’t care about saving money  -- I’m not even sure I thought about that.  I actually wanted to go to a “nice” dinner.

What was I trying to do?  What opinion was I trying to control?

  1. I wanted Dave to take me to dinner – think of my lie as reverse psychology. 
  2. I wanted Dave to think of me as a “good” wife – one who cares about the family finances.  This one was especially important because I often spend compulsively and ridiculously.
  3. I wanted Dave to have confidence that I was managing the family finances competently.  Another way to be a “good” wife.

I’ve been married to him for 25 years.  Doesn’t all of that seem silly?  Dave likes to go out to dinner.  Seems even sillier. 

Why do we need to alter someone’s perception of us?  How can we happy with our authenticity?  I think one of the first ways to answer that is to notice your lies – what is your true motivation?  What part of your authentic self were you trying to hide?

Hide & Seek

So, I know what my lies are and some of my motivations.  But what was I trying to hide about myself.  I came up with these possibilities:

  • Laziness – I didn’t want to be perceived as lazy and I was feeling very lazy indeed.  Do you hear an inner critic?
  • Worry – I have let the checking account get too close to the bone for this pay period and that made me feel incompetent.  So, I wanted Dave to see me as competent to help me balance out my own bad opinion.  (And, yes, I get that spending $ when we are short of $ is counter-intuitive).
  • Love – This one hurts to admit.  I wanted Dave to “prove” his love by taking me to dinner.  Or, rather, I wanted Dave to “prove” his love by intuitively knowing what I wanted.  (We drive people crazy when we expect them to read our minds.) 

With these honest admissions, I can lean more into my authenticity, becoming more comfortable with the truth of who I am.

Two more things to know:

I cooked dinner and it was yummy (and cheap).

Dave is my editor – so he’ll be reading this – ugh, that makes it all even harder to admit!  My vulnerability is showing.

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June Converse with purple hair
Choosing to rebuild a life after a breakdown has been a challenge. I became an author and a blogger who openly shares...
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