Your comments on my The Truth Of A Lie post have been so thought-provoking and remarkable it stirred more thoughts. It seems this topic deserves further discussion and I can’t wait to hear what you add to the mix this time. I’m also going to give you some tips about LYING TACTICS so you’ll be more savvy to them.
More Thoughts on The Truth and Lies:
Telling the truth doesn’t mean you need to tell someone every thought and feeling you have.
Maybe your partner doesn’t want or need to hear you were fantasizing about someone else when you were having sex with him. Along the same lines, perhaps your partner doesn’t care to hear “Wow, she’s so hot I’d like to lay her out on that table over there”. You get my drift?
Mean-Spirited Actions Disguised As Honesty
Sometimes people use honesty as a “cloak” or cover for what in reality is meanness and cruelty.
Here’s an example:
You’re a lousy lover. Ouch. Talk about hitting below the belt, if you know what I mean. What purpose could it possibly serve other than to diminish the person? Never a good thing. I’m sure you can think of other examples of this. It includes pointing out things about a person that are basic to their physical or character make-up.
This type of “truth” falls into the category of mean-spirited and cruel.
Take the example of “lousy lover” (which could possibly be improved upon). The point isn’t that lousy lovemaking doesn’t need to be addressed. Rather, that how you address these kinds of issues makes all the difference between a terrible relationship and a wonderful relationship. And we do all want the best relationships ever, right?
If you want great dating and love relationships, practicing the golden rule is a good starting point.
I’ve always kept in mind when working with “inmates” (people, that is) something I heard long ago. Don’t take a person’s dignity away. It’s one of the worst things you can do to someone.
Question Your Motives
A good gauge when you’re revealing “the truth” in the context we’re discussing is to ask yourself why you’re saying what you’re saying.
Blurting out things like the above examples are often a passive-aggressive way to hurt someone or get out anger that you don’t know how to express another way.
If you’re passive in taking care of your wants and needs, it’s likely you’re resentful. In that case, you’ll find passive-aggressive ways of letting out your feelings. Often you’re unaware of what you’re doing. This is a compensation for your own lack of assertiveness.
The truth used in a passive-aggressive manner is a way to be mean and hide behind the pretense that you’re “just telling the truth”.
NOTE: I’m not saying to question your motive in order to justify a LIE by telling yourself that you’re protecting someone – a slippery slope in my opinion.
The human mind can justify anything. I’m telling you. I sit with people frequently who rationalize heinous acts. It’s a fascinating thing to witness. While I’m not comparing the average to this extreme, it’s good to be aware of how good we can become at tricking ourselves into justifying something that’s better faced head-on.
Questioning your motive is to be applied to situations in which you feel a need to tell someone something that is mean-spirited and doesn’t have any benefit except to belittle or demean a person.
Passive-aggressive tendencies are not the only motive behind “mean honesty”. Sometimes it’s simply aggressive and that is often related to maintaining control of another person by making them feel less than. Or, you may feel hurt and use “mean honesty” to get back at someone. Understandable. It helps you regain a sense of power in a situation in which you feel disempowered. Tempting.
Boundaries – Emotional Sobriety
The reason you question your motives is to practice greater balance in your ability to have healthier relationships.
You may have heard about “boundaries” in relationships. Dysfunctional relationships lack appropriate “boundaries”. Relationships aren’t usually either totally dysfunctional or functional. Ordinarily we do well in some areas and could use some help with others. Think in terms of gray, not black and white. A spectrum if you will. It gives you more room for personal growth and development.
What are boundaries? Here’s how Wikipedia defines personal boundaries:
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits.
Boundaries are about appropriateness. A respect for boundaries takes into consideration appropriate timing and mutually beneficial uplifting ways of relating.
Can you see how this may relate to what we’ve been talking about? Cruelty and meanness are “violating” to the well-being of a relationship and are examples of poor boundaries.
We all make mistakes so don’t be hard on yourself if you’ve been the perpetrator or recipient.
Most of us didn’t have the best role-modeling for great relationships. If you’ve grown up in a family without good boundaries it takes time, practice, and healing to develop them. It’s something we need to learn and if you’re here it most likely means you’re open to learning and growth.
Practice compassion for yourself and others as you learn new ways to relate.
As you practice compassion for yourself, do the same for current and past partners. We contribute to our relationships and both parties share responsibility, always. Find a way to express your feelings without “raking someone over the coals”. It’s a sign of emotional maturity to find another way.
If you find this difficult, seek therapy to work through your relationship issues so you can move forward and experience greater joy in your future relationships. Remember, keep your eye on the prize. The prize is greater joy and loving relationships in your life.
Now, let’s take a look at lying tactics.
Working in prisons and in the addictions arena for years, I’ve witnessed my share of lying techniques. These tactics aren’t reserved for this population, but still I’ve received quite an “education” in this regard.
I’ve had people admit to me on many occasions that they use these tactics deliberately to put someone off the trail of the truth or to get them “off their back”. If your mind doesn’t work this way, don’t become paranoid, but don’t assume either. Anyone can use these tactics.
Here are a few lying tactics:
1) Lies By Omission
This is the lie where she tells you a story that’s basically the truth – and therefore convincing. There’s just one little thing. She’s letting out the central piece of the plot. She fails to mention the “key” point. Invariably, the “key” point is the thing she doesn’t want you to know she did.
But, she can feel pretty good about herself because she hasn’t really lied to you, not really. She just didn’t tell you everything.
2) Telling Part Of The Truth
Inmates have told me this is especially effective. Telling a story that contains part of the truth, and maybe even admitting a small transgression (that may or may not be true by the way), throws a person off the trail of the real truth.
Telling just a tidbit of the truth can be a powerful way of covering up reality.
Notice I used the word POWER. Lying can give a person a tremendous sense of power over a person. And that leads us to the next “tactic”.
3) A Potent Use Of Anger
Realize this. Anger is often used deliberately as a way to back someone off from further inquiry into a lie. And it may be practiced and used expertly. This use of anger involves a subtle (or not) degree of intimidation. Again, think on a spectrum here. The person doesn’t have to be “raging” and out of control person to use this tactic. Quite the contrary in fact.
Control is often a key element and the person may be very “contained” when using this tool. You may think this has nothing to do with YOUR life, but this tactic is not just reserved for “inmates” or addicts”. As you read further, see if you have ever experienced this in your own life.
Using anger as a way to back someone off is a powerful way of turning things around so that the person sensing the lie ends up on the offensive. Isn’t that clever? It is and a highly effective tool. Especially if you are easily intimidated.
This tactic is used frequently by addicts, but certainly not exclusively. By its nature, though, addiction involves lies upon lies. It’s a great tactic that often works well to back someone off so you can protect your supply (whether it be a substance or a behavior).
I used to provide Lifeworks intensives with Terry Kellogg in the addictions arena and I’m going to give you an example I heard way more than once. A person caught her partner IN BED with someone else and allowed themselves to be convinced nothing was going on. Do you think maybe a couple of the above tactics were used in the process? And maybe a willingness of the person believing this to go into just a bit of denial?
Although these examples may seem reserved for “extremes”, they are not. Think on a spectrum. Consider your own life. Have you ever had any of these tactics used on you?
How about this example. Your partner is on-line having an “intimate” relationship by internet with someone. You confront her and are told in an angry manner how insecure and jealous you are. You’re stifling and a pain in the ass basically.
If you lack self-confidence, you may actually buy into it. Suddenly YOU start feeling bad about yourself and mission accomplished. You’re off her back! Voila! Suddenly the tables have been turned (which was the intention of the tactic) and you are now “the problem”. Clever.
Fill in the blank with an example of your own. Or, perhaps you’ve used these tactics yourself.
Now, I wish to come full circle. In my first post about The Truth Of A Lie we talked about compassion for ourselves and the one telling a lie. Remember, lying often comes from insecurities and fear, although the intent can be personal gain and gratification as well.
Lying can indicate an inability to connect deeply with others. In its extreme, pathological lying, the person is severely wounded and most likely grew up in a situation where they couldn’t trust. Check out my post on attachment as this may provide a glimpse of what I mean.
We’ve all heard this expression: “She’s a LIAR”.
No, the person has told a lie (or maybe several). Calling someone a liar is like saying someone’s a Schizophrenic. No, a person suffers from Schizophrenia. It’s an aspect of them, not the totality.
When we use a term like this to define a person we’re ignoring all their other aspects. We lose the totality of the person in the process. We lose something more important – our sense of compassion and humanity. We have reduced them in a manner that makes it easier to dehumanize them and at that point we no longer seek to understand.
I’m not suggesting you stay with someone who has a habit of lying. Everyone needs to look at their own circumstances and decide what works for them. My suggestion, though, is that you be willing to look beneath the surface and seek to understand.
A friend of mine told a story from his childhood in which his grandfather taught him an important lesson in his article titled A Lesson From a Wise Grandfather to a Young Boy.
Here is the conversation:
McCray once told his maternal grandfather he hated white people. The old man reminded McCray of the fellow at Cut-Rate Drug Store who gave him extra ice cream in his root beer float, the Safeway worker who gave him an extra piece of fruit, or the woman at the library who would introduce him as her smart friend.
Weren’t those folks nice?
“Then you have a problem with a white person,” his grandfather would say. “Not white people.”
What Do You Think?
I was so impressed by the depth of your sharing about lying in my first post on this topic.
You, the reader’s perspectives, significantly contributed to the dialogue about this important topic.
I’d love you to share your stories and thoughts once again as we delve more deeply so that we might together come to a greater understanding of this complex human tendency. Interestingly, a few readers mentioned kid’s lies. These are not nearly so complex as readers pointed out with great stories. But, it says a lot that we learn to lie so young). As one reader pointed out, it shows that we have a tendency for self-protection. Most likely, this is a factor in adult lying as well.
Be well and may you experience the best relationships ever.
Photo courtesy of: phoenix wolf-ray