Why Do We Tell Lies

Hand over mouth
Is It Oops or Fear?

Lying…We have all done it in some capacity…little white lie, blatant “big one”, lie of ignorance.  Most of us have been taught that lying is wrong.  It is bad, punishable…and if you do it, you are “bad”.  I have been interacting with quite a few people lately about the lying issue and since it has been such a theme, I thought I would banter out loud on the subject.

So the question is: why do we lie?  We don’t tell lies because it is fun…we may get in a habit of doing it, but really lying is just fear.  We are afraid of people.  We are afraid of consequences.  We are afraid of hurting others.  We are afraid of perceptions.  We think the way to manage fear is to lie.

Fear is not feeling safe.  Kids (and adults) don’t often feel safe because of the judgment, the punishment, the response, which in turn reinforces the cycle:

Fear/Not Safe — Lie — Verbal Confrontation/Punishment — Increased Fear — Increased Lies (or more subtle lying)…

It goes on and on…instead of encouraging others in an environment of safety which would lessen the “need” for lying, when we see lying as a bad entity, in and of itself, we send others upstream into more lying and more “sneaky”/subtle lying.

I am not saying there shouldn’t or can’t be responsibility for the results of the lying, but what I am saying is that so much of what we do in contributing to the fear in the relationship, contributes to another’s lying.

Integrative thought for the recipient of lies: recognize lying for what it is: fear; wonder about the fear; provide a safe environment to expose the fear; grace the fear and the individual; avoid judging the fear; disempower the fear-punishment cycle; and…continue to grow in being ok with you so that lying doesn’t become a personal confrontation.

Integrative thought for when we find ourselves lying: avoid judging the behavior; ask “what am I afraid of?”; expose the behavior; and continue to seek growth in knowing you are ok being ok just the way you are…not because of what you do or don’t do…so that lying is not a part of your go-to defense in the world.

Hope it is an enjoyable, safe-feeling day for you.


2 Replies to “Why Do We Tell Lies”

  1. This is well-written, Kris. I’ve come to realize that my “dis-integrative” approach to lying/fear/unsafe feelings was because of my own fears and unsafe feelings. Thanks! Here’s to continued growth in being ok with ourselves “so that lying doesn’t become a personal confrontation”.

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