Lying is something that everybody does and children learn to do at a very specific age-around about 4 years old- the same age that they are becoming more independent and watching how others behave.
Children learn what they see instead of what they are told. So if mum is saying that everything is ok with tears in her eyes, then the child knows that she is sad and saying all is well. If Dad does not really want to play with the children because he is tired, the children learn about doing things that we do not want to.
We learn all sorts of different lies as a child. We are told to kiss people when we do not want to. We are told to say sorry when we are not. We are taught to say things to please others, so that we get attention, which is a conditional lie. We are taught to be strong and brave when we feel scared and vulnerable and so we learn to lie about how we are feeling as well.
As we grow up, we learn that in order to get what we want we have to make up the truth so that we achieve it. In relationships, we lie to our partners about trivial things, so that they will not see us in our deceit. So we tell white lies about where we were, how much the skirt cost, how much we are drinking and so on. We have sex when we don't want to, we watch films and bands that we have no interest in and we give up our own needs and wants in an attempt to be loved by our partner.
Instead of making us happy, however, lying usually makes us feel awful. Many lies are based around the theory that if I truly allow him/her to see me, warts and all, he/ she will reject me. We are terrified of being authentic and honest with our partners, family and friends because we fear they may leave us.
Some lies are motivated by insecurity and usually arise to make us more interesting or less tedious. Exaggerating and fabricating both also come under the umbrella of lying. Sometimes these habits become so entrenched that we no longer know when we are lying, and when what we are saying is true. It is completely possible that we fabricate a story, and then tell it so many times that it becomes as if it were real to us.
What is the remedy? Starting to tell the truth can be terrifying to those who fear rejection. The reason for this is that we take everything personally and assume others do to. If you are offered a cheese flan and you do not want it, and say no thank you, the other person has to learn that you have not rejected them, you just did not want the cheese flan. Similarly, if you are asked to do something that you do not want to do, if the other person gets angry that you are not complying, then the anger is theirs and nothing to do with you. You are simply saying that you do not want to do whatever it is they are asking, the reaction they have is theirs.
We lie to please people. However, when living a more truthful life and being as authentic as possible, you find that people seem to unconsciously know when you are not being truthful with them. You discover that it does take courage to say what you mean, and mean what you say, but it also allows the other person to be truthful as well.
Learning to not lie is a gradual process that takes kindness towards yourself and an understanding of why you learnt to lie in the first place. If you were taught to hide your feelings, you will need to stop lying and find out how to express your feelings naturally. This again will take some time and patience.
People lie to make themselves feel better. This does not mean that you need to. Spiritual growth is about taking responsibility for your words and actions regardless of what others are doing around you.
Tell your truth as often as you can. Be authentic and remember that when you are being truthful, you are allowing those around you to be honest as well.
Written by Caroline Nettle.
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