Lying is ubiquitous in all relationships, but it’s important to recognize the reasons and types of lies we tell. The occasional white lie generally comes from a place of compassion. Deceptive lying, though, such as lying by omission, and straight out lies, are often motivated by self-interests. The latter types are damaging to relationships and self-esteem, and contribute to feelings of guilt, anxiety and sadness. They can even have negative impacts on our physical health.
So why do we lie? Some people lie because they imagine telling truths would hurt, disappoint or upset others. Another common reason is for fear of judgment about revealing or expressing a truth or opinion. Others simply lie or embellish due to a lack of self-awareness.
Lying is often learned in childhood in families who find it difficult to cope with the messiness of telling the truth. Ultimately, it stunts emotional development, diminishes our relationships and undermines our trust in others.
Being honest may be challenging, but it’s ultimately better for our emotional and spiritual development.
6 Tips for Curbing Lying
- Tune into your emotions. People often lie to themselves and others because they don’t how they feel. Keep a feelings journal to better understand yourself and your needs.
- Identify when you lie. Do you find you’re more likely to lie to certain people and or in certain situations? Identifying triggers can help with understanding why you lie. Common reasons are for avoiding conflict or when feeling anxious.
- Learn to say no. It’s common for people to lie when they find themselves always saying yes when they really mean no.
- Learn to cope with negative feelings. Some lie to avoid the negative feelings telling the truth might create. Avoiding those feelings usually creates more problems. Consider meditation or talk therapy to help manage negative emotions.
- Make your words match your feelings. Consider the words of Sri Sathya Sai Baba: “Before you speak, think: Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?”
- Seek professional help. If you’re not making progress on your own or want to delve deeper into the reasons underlying why you lie, talking to a professional can be enlightening.