Sweet little lies… | Local newspapers and magazines

This month, our resident hypnotherapist Karen Martin, who is based at Salomon’s Estate, delves into the issue of lying and how it happens more often than you might think.

Who doesn’t say the weird whopper once in a while? It’s not just politicians who are frugal with the truth. We’re all prone to telling the occasional lie, even though it’s generally accepted that honesty is the best policy.

With the ‘Partygate’ scandal costing Boris Johnson his job and threatening to bring down the Tory government, it’s clear the electorate is tired of being lied to. Little children have little awareness of lying because they learn very young to say everything that will allow them to be approved and to avoid reproaches. It would be funny to hear adults blatantly lying like five-year-olds if they weren’t running the country.

I’ve always wondered why people in the public eye sometimes do stupid things, lie about them, and then get hurt and surprised when they’re found out. The moral outrage caused by dishonesty destroys careers, marriages and lives. Lying can be risky business.

Kind untruths

But lying is something we all do regularly every day. Most lies are fairly harmless and non-malicious. Compliments are sometimes nice lies to avoid hurting feelings. And when we say “I’m fine” we don’t always mean it and are being polite whereas the truth is more often a variation of fragile, insecure, neurotic or emotional (FINE meaning not so fine).

Smart children are often bare-faced liars. Until they have developed a sense of right and wrong, children are obviously incompetent. If their moral compass remains uncorrected, they become more sophisticated as their language skills and manipulative proficiency improve.

fake news

Dishonesty is more sinister when it is a deliberate strategy of manipulation. The internet exposes us all to fake news that is often used to influence public opinion for political or commercial gain. The scammers are masters of deception and are adept at wiping out bank accounts with false promises and false identities. Fraud and fake news are insidious. We all need to be on our guard against criminal disinformation because there are now few people who have not been targeted in some way.

Sometimes lies are necessary, accepted or tolerated. For example, when someone says they will try to be on time, it’s pretty obvious that they won’t. To try is to lie. Here are some other common classics: throwing a sickness, saying your phone battery is dead when you don’t want to talk to anyone, pretending an ignored email went to the spam folder, telling someone one you’ve come across that’s great to see when you’re not bothered if you never see them again, pretending you read or saw something to show your friends how cool you are or clever, telling a date you’re giving up “it’s not you, it’s me”. There are many more of these careless lies that can be considered hurtful or disrespectful if you are the recipient of them.

“Lying is something we all do on a regular basis every day: most lies are harmless enough and not malicious, but lying can be a risky business”

Denial and Trust

It’s strange but true that some people will collaborate with a lie to keep the peace or to avoid an unpleasant truth. Denial is a way to turn reality upside down if you can’t face it. Many relationships stumble with the tacit knowledge of infidelity eroding their foundations. For some, being deceived is better than being alone even if it is the ultimate betrayal. Lives can implode when the truth is revealed.

Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and once it’s lost, the truth can’t always fix it. A suspicious mind is plagued by doubt, and those with guilty secrets can be cruel in defending their lies. Obstruction is a means of diverting attention from the truth. The projection assigns blame to the victim. Gaslighting casts doubt on reason and ghosting means never having to explain.

These common strategies cover up lies and fuel toxic behavior. Generally, we are more accepting of others’ imperfections when they are open and transparent. It is better to speak clearly about weaknesses and mistakes. However, honesty is not as valued as it used to be, now Christian beliefs are not as influential. It used to be bad manners to lie and cheat, but now good manners are out of fashion.

Ancient Wisdom

Literature and folklore warn of the dangers of dishonesty and are historical memes still relevant in modern times. In Aesop’s fable of the boy who cried wolf, he learned his lesson too late because no one came to his rescue. Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes is surely a tale of how social media influencers can trick us into believing the unbelievable. Keith Waterhouse’s novel Billy Liar describes the trail of misfortune left in the wake of a fantasy. The Netflix series Dirty John tells a true story of a drug addict scammer exploiting a woman he met online. These are salutary accounts of the misery caused by being deceived or being victimized.

Tell the truth

The moral tale of modern life is to take your time getting to know people. We jump into relationships too quickly without realizing what we’re taking. Fortunately, most people do not intend to harm or exploit. But commit too quickly and you risk repenting at leisure.

Our need to fit in and be accepted makes us prone to showing only our best assets. Being true to yourself and being authentic in how you express your needs will help avoid misunderstandings and is much more likely to result in lasting, honest, mutually respectful and trusting relationships.

True love comes from being truthful about what you want and who you are.

Karen Martin, hypnotherapist