What lies beneath the lies?
We spent a lengthy time discussing the energy behind dishonesty in my last class. I asked a simple question with an obviously easy answer. “Why do people lie?”
In full disclosure, I chose to answer this question from my own personal standpoint. I have had more than my fair share of dishonesties in my life. In each of my dishonesties, the reason why I lied was to create an alternate outcome or to create a different picture of me.
I lied because I wanted to be liked. I lied about myself because I wanted to be more interesting (or feel more acceptable) and with all my heart and in all honesty, I never thought I could win if I played the game straight. Therefore, I cheated.
I never believed that I was interesting enough without decoration or that I could achieve anything without altering the truth. This is why I lied.
I lied to protect myself. I told simple lies and senseless lies. I told big lies (some of the huge and astronomical) and I tried to disguise them; however, as anyone ever caught in a lie would know; sometimes, in order to get out of one lie, I had to come up with another lie, and then another, and then another, and then another until that lie was truth in my head.
I lied and hid behind my lies to keep them like a shield; only, the shield I hid behind was as weak as my stories and equally so, the shield I hid behind was painfully transparent and obvious.
Back when I was young, —and I’m not sure how young, but I’m thinking this is somewhere around 6th Grade, I made up a lie that I was being chased by a homeless man that lived in an abandoned house on Front Street by the condominiums next to the bowling alley. I said that I ran and threw a rock, which heroically hit the man in the head, and I was able to get away.
This lie was stupid and obvious. However, the lie itself was not important. More importantly was the reason why I told the lie to begin with. I was alone and feeling lonely. I was sad and wanted to feel better.
And since I didn’t know how to ask for attention and since I was afraid to appear weak, wimpy, or sissy-like, and since I thought I was undeserving and unable to achieve normal attention; I created an overly dramatized scenario, which undoubtedly caused a chain of events, and there it was, —a desired outcome achieved through dishonesty.
Previous to the class, I listened to a parent discuss their child and describing them as a compulsive liar.
I get that. I was that kid too.
When I asked, “Why do you think that is?” all the parent could say was, “Because my kid is a little liar. That’s why?”
There is a science behind the lies.
There is a reason for them. I had a reason for each of mine. I lied because I thought I had to. And for me, this was a sickness. Besides, everyone lies, right? If not, and even if no one else lied, I told myself “Everybody lies” to excuse the guilt and shame machine that churned in my head.
Way back when, I used to think I was alone in my insecurity. Today, however, I understand that I am not.
Look at today’s technology. Look at the photographs you see on today’s social media. Look at the way people pose for their head shots and profile photos; meanwhile, with the all the computer apps, photo shop, and photo doctoring, it turns out they don’t’ look that way at all; ever proving, that we all have our “Thing” that makes us feel uncomfortable about ourselves. We all have fears and we all have that “Thing” inside us that causes us to cheat when we feel afraid to play the game straight.
The energy behind lies is truly an incredibly draining process. It is sad and bizarre, and oddly enough, lying is habit forming and difficult to break. Whether we are caught or not lying is always humiliating. In fact, our lies are the temporary band aids we use to protect our humiliation. And even if we are not caught in our lies, —there is still a sense of shame or humiliation because this is why we lied in the first place.
I missed out on most of my 7th grade year because I was in and out of hospitals for several months. And why was I there? It all started out because I was faking it. It all started because I wanted to get out of going to school so I lied about being sick.
This began early in the school year. I was calling out a lot (of course, I deserved an Oscar for my role in the Best Leading Actor category) and one day Mom decided to take me to a doctor. I thought this was to call my bluff. I had to play this out perfectly, otherwise, Mom would know I was lying and I would be in trouble.
My mother knew I was afraid of the doctor. And this was a real fear of mine too. In fact, this was a paralyzing fear of mine. I hated doctor’s offices. I hated doctors. I was afraid of needles and I hated the smell in the waiting rooms. I hated that feeling I would get when sitting in the examination room before the doctor would come in, waiting to see what would come next, and sitting there beneath the hum of buzzing fluorescent light fixtures, waiting for the doctor to come in and ask me a series of questions.
In order for me to survive the lies I told about being sick and not being able to go to school, I couldn’t let my mother call my bluff. I had to play this out. Essentially, I agreed to go to the doctor, which took my mother off guard because she knew I was frightened, she knew I hated the doctor, and she knew that if I agreed to go to the doctor; she would think I must really be sick. Only, I was sick. However, I wasn’t physically ill. No, my illness was mental.
In an effort to protect my lies and stay out of school, I underwent several painfully exploratory procedures. The first day my mother took me to the doctor, hours later, I found myself in the emergency room undergoing a spinal tap. For those who don’t know what that is or how this feels, please allow me to explain.
A spinal tap is when the jab a long painful needle into the base of your spine to draw out and inspect your spinal fluid. They numb the area explaining, “This is not going to hurt but you might feel a slight pressure,” . . . but that’s a lie. I didn’t feel pressure. At least, I wouldn’t describe what I felt as “Pressure.” No, I could skip pressure and call this sheer and unmistakable pain.
I underwent so many different tests. I had an exploratory tune shoved down my throat to inspect my stomach. I had I.V. needles jabbed into my arms. I spent weeks in hospitals; meanwhile, it was all a lie. It was all a painfully draining lie.
And what happened in result of that lie? I missed out on nearly an entire school year. But when I returned, I was awarded sympathetic and nurturing attention by the teachers. I was treated as if I was special. Again, this desired outcome was achieved because of a lie. However, that lie was hard to keep. I had to become that lie. I had to live it. In exchange, I was treated, regarded, and noticed. In this application, my fears of exposure and loss of attention outweighed my fear of doctors and physical pain. My fears of school and social awkwardness was greater than my fears of something, like say, a large needle shoved into the bottom of my spine to draw out my spinal fluid.
I lied about money. I lied about fights I was in. I lied about things I did to appear like a bad ass. I lied about being tough, which payed off a little, until I was in an actual fight and found myself beaten in front of all my friends, laughed at, and humiliated.
The worst part of a lie is obviously being caught. This makes it clear that we can’t be trusted. This exposes our humiliation, which is why we lied to begin with. We lied to beat the odds and to keep from feeling weak or exposed. The second worst part of a lie is the energy it takes to keep the lies alive.
Towards the end of class, I discussed a course I took long ago about energy conservation in commercial office buildings. The reason behind this class was to learn how to cut down on energy bills and consumption in order to save money and increase the profit margins in rentable commercial office space. Put simply, I was taught how to save money in energy consumption so the company I worked for could make more money in profit.
With regards to energy conservation, we are similar in the sense that we are always using and creating energy. However, sometimes we use our energy wastefully. We also consume the wrong energy. We get stuck in this regard and our energy consumption is overactive; our output of energy is counterproductive, and plainly speaking, instead of running like a properly maintained machine, we go haywire and nearly explode.
Either way, we are always a constant sense of energy. Essentially, we determine our usage of energy. We decide where we place our intentions and our concerns. It takes more energy to lie than it does to be honest. Of course, honesty isn’t always easy but neither are lies in the long run because they are habit forming and dangerous.
Why do people lie?
I can’t speak for anyone else. I can only say why I lied. I can only say that I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I lied to create a desired outcome, which often resulted with undesirable results.
When speaking with the class about the lies we told, I noticed most of the people in the classroom were quietly agreeing with me and nodding their head.
Mark Twain once wrote, “Man is the only animal that blushes . . . or needs to.”
I am not sure if there are words written more brilliantly than this but I do know there is nothing as truthful as this quote.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we never had to blush again . . .
. . . or needed to?