Lying is perhaps one of the behaviors or a bad habit that is hard to get away from. Sometimes, you lie for a good reason, and it’s what they call a white lie. Whether lies come from “good” motives or bad motives, there are reasons why people choose not to tell the truth and cannot stop lying.
WHY DO PEOPLE TELL LIES?
Fear of being punished. This is the top reason why people tell lies, especially among children. There is no significant difference between lies told to avoid punishment for a purposeful misdeed versus an honest mistake.
Protect someone from being punished. It is like lying with the fear of being punished, but the difference is that you are protecting someone (probably important and close to you) from being punished once the other party knew the offense committed.
Protect oneself from the threat of physical harm. Physical harm is different from being punished, for the threat of harm is not for a misdeed. For instance, a young boy is home tells the mother of his brother’s standing at their door that his brother is not home now and to come back later. He lied to protect his brother from a foreseen physical harm to that mother because his brother had beaten his playmate.
Get a reward. This also one of the most common motives is by both children and adults. In adults, this is usually done during a job interview to increase the chances of hire.
To be admired. Telling lies to project a different image, and impress others and increase your popularity can range from “little white lies” to enhance a story being told.
To get out of an awkward social situation. Whenever you are stuck in a boring party or gathering and want to just get out of it, you sometimes tell others that you are not feeling well or claiming to have a babysitter problem.
To avoid embarrassment. One of the best examples is a child saying that he spilled some water into his pants when the truth is he peed on it. This is done to avoid being laughed at and feel embarrassed.
To keep privacy. For example, a couple would say they have eloped because the cost of a wedding was beyond their means when, in reality, they don’t want to invite their families.
Exercise power and maintain peace. A nation’s leader not telling the entire truth regarding the country’s security status to avoid tension and panic.
HABITUAL LYING CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE
Any destructive habit leads to painful consequences. When we choose to lie, we choose to suffer. Think how much better off we’d be if we would stop lying and live in the truth.
Lying is curable; it can be stopped and minimized.
PRACTICAL STEPS TO STOP LYING
Acknowledge that lying is a problem. Unless you don’t consider that the habit is not good for you and others, you won’t stop doing it. Therefore, this is the first and the major step to change your habit.
Remind yourself that lying can mess up your life. Lying taints and destroys relationships and adds a huge burden to your life. Also, remind yourself that there will be consequences when you withhold the truth.
Examine your triggers
Why did you lie? What were you trying to hide? Is there a better way of telling the truth?
The next time you are tempted to tell a lie, you can pause for a moment and ask yourself:
- Where are you?
- Who are you with?
- How do you feel?
- Are you lying to avoid someone making feel bad or to make yourself feel better?
These questions lead you to pinpoint what factors like scenario, people, and emotions trigger you to lie. Once you’ve identified them, you will know how to respond to them the next time.
According to Kim Egel, a psychotherapist, someone lies when telling the truth surpasses his/her comfort zone. She adds that some people can handle the consequences of lying than the distress of telling the truth.
The truth may cause discomfort, but acceptance is crucial to getting more comfortable with the truth despite the painful reality of admitting a mistake. Learning to accept the truth takes time but yields some valuable lessons.
Practice telling the truth
Practice the habit of telling the truth. When you feel the urge to lie, stop and think for a moment. Think about what the others would feel about you if they knew you were lying. There’s no genuine peace than telling the truth.