Lie is a really big uncomfortable word. It includes a lot of different things – knowing the truth but choosing to say the opposite, omitting the truth by saying little or nothing, picking half-truth and half-lie, ‘white’ lies to please or reassure, pretending to ourselves or others that we know something we don’t, denying the facts or choosing an interpretation which suits us.
Why does it matter? What you think shapes your reality. What you see as real shapes how you feel. What you feel shapes how you behave. How you behave shapes your life. So, if you want to be in charge of your own life, you need to look at the lies you accept. Pretty simple really.
Honesty is more than simply not lying. Deception includes vague statements, manipulating information by emphasis or exaggeration. Withholding information that deprives someone of freedom of choice and informed action. Although we may consider ourselves honest, few of us reveal all our thoughts and feelings and we find many different reasons to justify it.
The lies we tell others, the lies we accept from others and most of all perhaps the lies we tell ourselves are slugs that eat clarity, trust and wise informed choices. And they breed exponentially in fertile ground. I’m not going to challenge any of us here on why we lie or to whom. I’m not even going to focus on the lies you tell. I want to focus on the lies you accept. From yourself and from other people.
The lies that we accept from ourselves usually fall into two boxes; old tapes and current comforts. Old ‘tapes’ we have become accustomed to e.g. ‘I’m the kind of person who…’ or ‘I’m always going to be…’. Look hard at these. Often coming from your early life, family patterns or how you have interpreted past experiences, perhaps they were once true or partially true. But what is the evidence that suggests they are true now? Is there evidence that suggests the opposite? The second box is much more about the story we tell ourselves about the present. Often the lies we accept from ourselves are based on either not wanting to see a truth because we know we won’t like or because we want to avoid dealing with acting on that new truth. We tell ourselves that our job is safe when there is plenty of evidence it may not be, or that we will push through our current feeling of being unbearably exhausted because it will ease when x or y happens (when actually we have felt this way for 3 years.) Here, looking at how you actually feel and listening to your own gut instinct may help you separate fear from fact from fiction.
And the lies we accept from others? Strangely the ones that ‘stick’ are often the lies that feed either our tapes or our comfort box. In the spirit of confirmation bias, we believe what we want to hear…until it becomes unbelievable or too painful. Again, consider the evidence. What are the facts as far as you know? And what are opinions rather than facts? So, your manager may think you are disorganised…the fact is she has said so but her opinion does not mean that you are disorganised. Look at the facts. Gather more information say by asking her for specific examples – which also helps you clarify what ‘disorganised’ means to her as opposed to what it means to you. Reflect on whether her feedback presses play on an old tape in your head or if it is a truth you have been avoiding. Then you are free make your own choice on how you go from your thoughts via actions to shaping the reality of your own most authentic life,