Mar 16 2017

Versions of the Truth

Category: ChoicesPatricia @ 9:03 am


When was the last time you told a “white lie”? Who did you lie to? What would have happened if you had told the truth? We all tell lies. “White” lies and “black” lies.  A lie is an untrue statement made with the intention to deceive or create a false impression. It misleads you. On purpose. A “white” lie is considered to be a lie with “good” intentions. But it is still a lie. In the movie, “Something’s Gotta Give”, after catching the man she loves with another woman, the character is confronted by the man. He says, “I have never lied to you, I have always told you some version of the truth.” She replies, “The truth doesn’t have versions, okay?” Unfortunately, we all have our own unique version of reality and sometimes truth gets confusing.

As beings, we are always trying to look good both to ourselves and to the outside world. “It’s tied in with self-esteem,” says University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman. “We find that as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels”.  He goes on to say, “We’re trying not so much to impress other people but to maintain a view of ourselves that is consistent with the way they would like us to be”. We generally want to be agreeable and to make social situations easy. We want to avoid insulting others by disagreeing or speaking up.

Although many animals engage in deception and deliberately mislead another…only the human animal is wired to deceive ourselves as well as others. Feldman’s research shows that people are so engaged in managing how others perceive them that they are often unable to separate truth from fiction in their own minds. Is the perfectly posed and digitally enhanced selfie posted to social media a true representation of the self?

Both men and women lie but apparently they do it for different reasons. Men lie no more than women, but they tend to lie to make themselves look better. Perhaps suggesting their golf score was lower; the fish was bigger; the salary more impressive. Women are more likely to lie to make the other person feel better. Often praising or complimenting another’s outfit or decorating style; omitting a truth about a person’s weight or lovelife.  We all start lying at around age 4 to 5 when we gain an awareness of the use and power of our words.  We begin to lie to find out what we can manipulate. We test and test again. Eventually, we learn to use lying to get out of trouble or get something we want.

But lying can get us into trouble. When we lie, we can lose the things we want most. Lying can create problems with our relationships. It can destroy our financial security. It can erode trust. Friedrich Nietzsche says, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”‘

Sometimes we lie to control a response. We tell our side of a story. We leave out significant details. We rephrase the words we spoke. And then we tell this story to someone about an interaction with a friend or boss. The subtle changes we make may influence the person’s response and their attitude about the interaction. In the end, you can not believe the truth of their response because it is based on less than truthful details provided to them. You are getting advice based on misinformation. If you manipulate the outcome of the response, you are lying to yourself. And you are denying yourself of another person’s true opinions.

Sometimes we lie by omitting facts. Perhaps you forget to mention that you ran into an ex and had lunch. Or maybe you conceal an ongoing flirtation with a neighbor. And you may be lying to yourself when you’re frustrated that you aren’t losing weight and forget that you mindlessly consumed a bag of chips as an afternoon snack. Everyone has experienced a time when they leave out details, but sometimes those details really matter. Whether there is nothing to hide or something you are concealing, leaving out facts creates an opportunity for further deceptions.

Sometimes we lie by exaggeration. We exaggerate to preserve an image of ourselves. There is a fine line between highlighting your better qualities and completely inflating them. Insecurities lead to exaggeration when someone has a lack of self-esteem; a need for approval from others. If you don’t think you’re good enough, you have to exaggerate to make yourself feel better. You may exaggerate to your boss about your abilities or skill level. But a poor performance is a broken promise. Exaggerating makes you untrustworthy.

Sometimes we lie to protect ourselves. We listen to our inner critic, that committee of voices that tells us that we are a failure or disappointment; that it isn’t safe to tell the truth about how we feel or what we want. We may guard ourselves from being vulnerable or feeling foolish by downplaying our emotions. But when you waste your time defending yourself against false perceptions of who you are, you move further away from your goals and aspirations.

You can begin by being honest with yourself. Although there is an ever-present possibility of deceit in all human relationships, your relationship with your own self is most important. Get to know the inner critic. Your inner critic was installed by years of negative programming of your subconscious mind. Separate it from your now reality and stop listening to it. Be more honest and direct with the people in your life as you express yourself. Find kind and considerate ways to do that and be sensitive to the other person’s sense of reality. A true friend or loved one is someone you can openly communicate with; someone who can offer honest feedback to your concerns and ideas; and someone who would welcome the same honest feedback in return.  Really strong relationships are based on what people really are, not on what they pretend to be. Truth earns trust and respect.

Joseph Sugarman says, “Each time you are honest and conduct yourself with honesty, a success force will drive you toward greater success. Each time you lie, even with a little white lie, there are strong forces pushing you toward failure.” Jedi Master Obi Way Kenobi says, “May the Force be with you.”



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