Telling lies when we could tell the truth becomes standard operating procedure for many of us from drama, trauma and dysfunction. We learned early on that the best way to stay safe from the wrath of others was to make something up rather than tell them how it is for us.
And in the dance of dysfunction that works. It does its job. It keeps us safe and let’s us navigate a world on our terms that doesn’t allow us to be self determining.
When we continue to use this survival strategy in our adult life and relationships it serves only to perpetuate the dance of dysfunction and pattern of pain in our adult relationships.
- relationships suffer as intimacy becomes difficult; we often fear being found out
- shame often has become one of our motivating factors. We are afraid to let others see us for who we are because we believe deep inside that we are “not enough”
- guilt often lies right under the surface as we avoid those we’ve lied to
- isolation from those who question our honesty kicks in as we remove ourselves from situations that stir up our guilt and shame
- we feel stuck. We often know we are being dishonest yet it’s all we’ve known and we don’t know how to change it
The empowering solution and practice becomes then:
- learning to recognize and catch ourselves when we do this
- going back to make things right by being honest about what we think, feel and want in this relationship
If it doesn’t go well? Ie the other person becomes reactive/angry/explosive/abusive/blaming/ argumentative etc?
- We can look at how we approached and presented the situation (did we make amends i.e. own our actions or did we make excuses ie “I know I lied but it was because….).
- Once we’ve done the checks and balances in ourself we can ask is this a unique situation or is this person like this all the time? If the former maybe cut them some slack and talk later. If the latter it might be time to admit this relationship may be unhealthy and it might be an option to create some healthy distance.
So, telling us lies is a normal response to living in a situation where we have to read those who are hurting us so we can try to navigate not being hurt.
Unfortunately telling lies when we could be telling the truth doesn’t lend well to trying to build a new life and discover new, healthy, respectful and responsive relationships.
In fact if we are unable to learn to be honest this survival skill alone can sink many ships and leave us wondering why we often end up repeating the patterns of drama, trauma and dysfunction in our relationships until we are able to recognize and resolve these issues for ourselves.
People know when they are being manipulated and lied to.
Often we will hear them say something like “I knew something was off but couldn’t put my finger on it”.
It takes time to do this kind of work.
It’s often difficult at first but it always gets easier with practice.
- be kind to yourself while not making excuses
- remind yourself you are safe and can choose to leave any situation or relationship that doesn’t feel “safe”
- time outs are totally ok. Sometimes we need a minute to sort our thoughts so we can decide to answer or not answer instead of telling a lie
- know that this will take time. Like all inside work? We may “know” the answer but it’s through practice it becomes our new response
Learning to catch ourselves and then correcting our course at first may feel awkward but in the end feels rewarding.
There is nothing more amazing than the realization that I was NOT powerless to create the change that would ultimately change my life.
This is creating change “from the inside out”.
and when “we” change?
So cut yourself some slack if you’ve used direct lies or white lies to survive. And know that you’re not alone. Not the only one.
No shame in surviving.
But let’s start living.