by Donald Best, ACMHC
Ways to think about lying that I find helpful. Hopefully these will help you think more clearly about lying as well.
Most Science on Lying isn't useful. Many scientific studies define lying as - saying what isn't true with no regard to the motive behind the lie. So when you hear that in most conversations people tell at least 3 lies it is a deceptive truth. So why isn't it shocking?
When working with the Neurodiverse I tell them being polite is not even lying because no one is deceived.
The cashier isn't deceived when you tell her you are doing fine. She is just glad you didn't unload on her.
Your buddy isn't going to be outraged when he finds out there was some major things “up” you just weren't ready to talk about it, right then. He knows you, he knows something is up and how to get you to open up - later.
Then there is flattery:
When you tell an older lady she doesn’t look a day over 29, she is complemented, not because she believes you but that you care enough to say what isn’t true.
Then there are lies to entertain;
Fish stories and tall tales often fit here. If the motive is to entertain not to self aggrandize. These are when no one believes it but loves how entertaining it was.
White lies are distinguished from Polite ones by the fact that they are believed. While the lack of deception distinguishes a polite lie from a bad one, the unselfish motive is what makes a lie white. You really hope they believe those pants make them look thinner. Not that you are so fat that what you wear makes no difference. Does the other party want to be deceived and benefit from the deception? Dangerously there is always a selfish motive too. Part of not insulting someone serves them but it serves you too. As the benefit moves from primarily the other person to the actual person fibbing - the lie gets more and more grey. The person might really be served better by telling them they aren’t a good singer before they embarrass themselves. Even if they might shoot the messenger.
While any good liar will believe the lie while telling it. These lies are simply natural consequences of the lies people tell themselves. You are not the intended victim just the collateral damage.
The classic example is the alcoholic who doesn't think he drinks too much so he or she can drink as much as they please. Then they grossly underestimate how much they drink to you. A person cannot possibly be more honest with others than they are with themselves.
These people are lying to themselves to avoid pain, comfort themselves, endure hard things, etc.
They tend to be believed because they believe what they are saying, They get away with it long term with others who they can foster sympathetic denial – co-dependence with.
Deceiving another person to obtain personal gain. Whether it is to avoid punishment, nagging, or to make yourself look good. The motive is selfish and the people deceived are going to feel harmed if/when they learn the truth.
The science here is good. One of the things science tells us is people are very good at keeping score and tracking cheaters of any sort, whether they verbally lie or not. Which is one reason these people keep lying, because they don't realize people are keeping score and tracking.
What feeds these liars?
A cheating liar is really what people mean by lies. This is our focus.
If a lie gets someone an extra piece of cake, others eventually notice even if they don't say anything.
Without the liar realizing it they are under more scrutiny and no longer get the benefit of the doubt. The next time it is convenient - under the bus they go. They don't understand the cost they paid for that piece of cake. This is the truth behind cheaters never prosper.
Unfortunately that is a lie.
“Good liars” don't prosper simply when others believe them at the time. Their long term success requires manipulative or moralistic tactics. So they can lie and get away with it.
One common way to manipulate is to use feelings as facts. These kinds of liars attach such emotional value to the situation, the truth never matters even when it is eventually discovered. These people can tell you what you know isn’t true but the emotional backlash makes you behave like it is. It basically gas lights the entire system.
Another system is “stooping to it.” Most people will not sacrifice self-respect to get ahead. So when someone is willing to play the victim card, others will be forgiving. Yes, they told you what you wanted to hear but they were desperate.
Often the most consistent lie these people tell is: “I care about my self-respect.” You believe them because you care about your self-respect despite every indication they don’t care about theirs.
There is a touch of a moralistic, empathetic, and codependent manipulation here – “if you are a good person you will have compassion and help me abdicate my responsibility.” True compassion empowers. If you are focusing on how pathetic and powerless someone is don't call it compassion.
Perhaps the simplest ploy, that cheating liars use, is tallying all the other kinds of lies. So they can say “I'm not the liar, you are.” Then when you make a distinction they can say – “Oh that's just your justification”.
There are too many of these to go over here often many are employed at once.
Point is if you find yourself wondering how someone in your life “gets away with it (lying)” all the time. Get help. It’s probably pretty sick, pathological. You may need support to hold your own.
By Bonnie Bennett, ACMHC
Truthfully, how important is self-esteem? It effects every decision and touches every part of your life.
Webster’s dictionary defines self-esteem as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself : SELF-RESPECT, 2: SELF-CONCEIT” (“Self-esteem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-esteem. Accessed 28 May. 2020.); I would say the definition is most accurate, but most people focus on the self-conceit part and feel that if they are confident in themselves then they are conceited, self-involved, or worse yet…. A NARCISSIST!
How can you tell you have no or low self-esteem? The answer is how you treat yourself- internally and externally.
How can you improve your self-esteem? The answer is how you treat yourself – internally and externally.
The first and most important thing people should look at is the internal dialog one has with their self. It is not uncommon for people to be mean to themselves when they feel they did not do the best they can do, or if a mistake is made, or a poor choice was chosen; here comes the punching gloves!
Media, society, culture, community, and experiences; all have had a huge role to play in how we look at ourselves.
The media presents concepts that could be considered either self-indulgent or confident; and the perception is twisted by the intent of the story.
Society and community unknowingly (knowingly?) set a tone for “normalcy” or what is expected of us as an individual, along with the bar that is to be achieved that is usually miles high.
Culture- in a sense is how we live our lives, helps define who we are. But if not defined carefully can limit us and set standards that may not be healthy or beneficial to us.
So now what?
Treat yourself as you would your very best friend. Be kind and honest with yourself. You would not look at your friend and say “Really, your gonna wear THAT?!, not likely. You are more apt to say “let’s try something that will work better for you”.
Approaching yourself with kindness and acceptance is the pinnacle to repairing self-esteem and starting to feel not only better about you, but maybe about life in general. Removing others expectations of yourself also removes some of the pressure to reach the bar that others have set. We want to help you learn to lean on yourself to set the standards.
The term self-love can be very confusing. What does it really mean? It means the basic care of self:
The concept of self-worth can be confusing at best. What is it? How do I judge it? Noting your self-worth is looking at your value. When we value ourselves, we are more apt to take care of and protect ourselves. One of the major components of self-worth is:
We have all heard before how important it is to accept ourselves, but the real question is how many of us actually do?
No one person is all good or all bad; we are all a beautiful mixture of both (although we lean heavily one way or the other) and that is part of our uniqueness, part of what makes us human.
Does this mean allow our ‘bad’ to rule the day? Not necessarily, but it does mean being kind to yourself and recognizing that it is all part of being a human being.
Sometimes it is easy to say we have forgiven ourselves for whatever… but reality is most of us choose to brush it under the rug and forget whatever the offense is that we have done to others or ourselves or we beat ourselves up for years about the event.
Reality is, you need to forgive yourself more than you forgive others (still need to forgive others eventually).
Holding onto negative emotions that go with not forgiving ourselves slowly eats us alive, the continual emotional beatings we give ourselves lends to the pain and anguish that literally breaks us down.
What can we do about it?
Today’s culture does not make it easy to be kinder to ourselves. There are so many factors that work against that very concept. And yet, we have the ability to break free and love ourselves for who we are, our uniqueness, the very beauty in how we are made, to be authentic and true to who we are while striving to be the best that we can be in the same breath.
No matter what happens with you today: remember one thing…..
YOU ARE PERFECT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE RIGHT THIS MOMENT, LATER TODAY, TOMORROW, AND FOREVER.