Why do we Lie?

Lying destroys relationships and damages the bonds between human beings.

The Journal of Intercultural Communication Research (2016) states that “we all lie, but not all lies are the same. People lie to achieve a goal: WE LIE IF [we believe] HONESTY WON’T WORK. Essentially the truth comes naturally, but lying takes effort and a sharp, flexible mind. Lying is a part of the development process, like walking and talking. Children learn to lie between the ages two and five, and lie the most when testing their independence.”

While it is a normal developmental process for children to lie, many adults get stuck in the same pattern and do not seem to grow out of a need to lie in order to achieve rewards or avoid perceived punishment.

Below is a list of possible motivations for lying.

TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

Personal Transgressions:                         Cover up a mistake or misdeed.                        22%
Avoidance:                                                 Escape or evade other people.                         14%

TO PROMOTE YOURSELF:

Economic Advantage:                               Gain financial benefits                                        16%
Personal Advantage:                                 Bring benefits beyond money                             15%
Self-Impression:                                        Shape a positive image of ourselves                    8%
Humour:                                                     Make people laugh                                               5%

ALTRUISTIC:                                            Help people                                                            5%

UNKNOWN:                                              Motives are unclear, even to ourselves                 7%

SOCIAL OR POLITE:                               Uphold social roles or avoid rudeness                   2%

MALICIOUS:                                              Hurt other people                                                  4%

PATHOLOGICAL:                                      Ignore or disregard reality                                      2%

The research of David Leys PHD. (Psychology Today) can also help readers gain some insight into the way liars think.

“Believe it or not, their lying makes some sense, when you look at it through their eyes.

  1. The lie does matter…to them. People lie when it just doesn’t matter because they actually do think it matters. While everyone around them thinks it’s an inconsequential issues, the liar believes it is critically important.
  2. Telling the truth feels like giving up control.  Often, people tell lies because they are trying to control a situation and exert influence toward getting the decisions or reactions they want. The truth can be “inconvenient” because it might not conform to what they are trying to achieve.
  3.  They don’t want to disappoint you. It may not feel like it to you, but people who tell lie after lie are often worried about losing the respect of those around them. They want you to like them, be impressed, and value them. And they’re worried that the truth might lead you to reject or shame them.
  4. Lies snowball. If you tell a little lie, but then to cover that lie, you tell another one, then another, and another – each gets bigger and bigger. Finally, we’re arguing about the colour of the sky, because to admit anything creates the potential of the entire house of cards tumbling. If a chronic liar admits to any single lie, they feel like they’re admitting to being a liar, and then you’ll have reason to distrust them.
  5. It’s not a lie to them. When they say something, it’s often because they may genuinely believe, at that moment, that it is the truth. Their memory has been overwhelmed by stress, current events, and their desire to find a way to make this situation work. Sometimes, this can become so severe that the person almost seems to have created a complete alternate world in their head, one that conforms to their moment-by-moment beliefs and needs.
  6. They want it to be true. Finally, the liar might want their lie to be true so badly that their desire and needs overwhelm their instinct to tell the truth. Sometimes, liars hope that they can make something come true by saying it over and over.”

Most people who lie may not be aware that others see through the facade of their lies. This is an entirely different subject to be addressed and begs the question of why the recipient of the lies does not compassionately address their loved one’s lies? It is likely for the same reasons the liar lies. To avoid conflict, deny reality, or having to confront an uncomfortable situation.

Facing the truth of why we lie and becoming dedicated to dismantling this behaviour allows us to stop hiding behind a cloak of desperation and fear. We learn how to become an honest and authentic human being. If you recognize yourself or a loved one who engages in these behaviours, consider getting therapy to stop the devastating cycle that destroys integrity, safety, trust, marriages and relationships.

 

Why do we Lie?
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Maureen offers an environment in which rapport safety, empathy and trust are instilled to assist her clients in addressing their personal life challenges.

Her areas of interest include depression, anxiety, and communication breakdown, assertiveness skills, self-esteem, personal growth, family of origin issues, health anxiety and the development of emotional awareness. She has a special interest in assisting individuals and families impacted by emotional dysregulation, high sensitivity, introversion, narcissism and borderline personality traits.

Maureen’s therapeutic approach is eclectic and dependent on the client’s situation and goals. Techniques may include Cognitive Behavioural, modified Dialectical Behavioural, Emotionally Focused, Systems and Adlerian therapy.

Prior to obtaining her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, Maureen was a research assistant with the U.B.C. Mood Disorders Clinic and a volunteer with the RCMP Victim Services.

Maureen is married with 3 adult children.

Maureen is also a member of the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors and the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association

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