Do you ever wonder why do people lie? In my teens, I had a short career in shoplifting. Shocking I know. Thank God I got caught, paid my debt to the retailer as well as society and didn’t end up living out a life of crime. I was ashamed at first, but today I think it gives me some street cred (I come across as more of a goody-two-shoes today).
Why was I willing to sacrifice my integrity, lie and steal to get what I wanted? Feelings.
Most lies (unless calculated by a sociopath or pathologically composed by a
a compulsive liar with a mental health problem) lead back to a difficulty coping with fear/anxiety and grief.
I know, it sounds too simple.
[bctt tweet="People lie to manipulate, cope with insecurity, perpetuate denial and avoid painful feelings"],
but when we break it down each of these things leads back to fear and grief. I am going to borrow a bit from Robert A. Moylan’s Emotional Core Therapy to explain; the remedy to fear/anxiety is a relief and losing something that brings us joy causes grief.
Let’s take a deeper look at my shoplifting issue to get a better understanding. As a teenager, I didn’t have much in the way of material possessions or resources for college. Most of what I had, I earned - including scholarships. I often felt anxious or fearful about money and fitting in with others. My poorly designed solution was to create relief through stealing. It was obviously a temporary fix because I ultimately felt more anxiety when I got arrested!
Watch the video below to learn more about why do people lie, or scroll down for more information!
Why Do People Lie - 3 Common Reasons
Children who want to please their parents, the dating couple who want to impress each other, a friend who doesn’t feel accepted. They seek relief from their fear/anxiety by lying.
Choosing to face fear and work towards self-acceptance is the path to honesty and joy. Lies create instant gratification or relief of the fear but ultimately cause more insecurity.
A manipulative person who fears they won’t get what they want finds relief in lying. Job seekers manipulate hiring managers, teenagers manipulate parents to attend parties, wives manipulate husbands to get a new handbag, husbands manipulate wives to stay later at the bar.
For those that are manipulating, they fear the answer will be no or they won’t get their way. To avoid the anxiety that comes with potential confrontation, they choose relief through lying instead of working it out collaboratively.
Someone who has lost something joyful finds relief in lying to themselves about their grief, choosing denial over reality.
They avoid their grief and find relief in a false sense of reality. Denial about addiction, death, abuse or codependency allows for manufactured relief delivered by lies. Lies that say “I can control the drinking”, “I can prevent or could have prevented this loss”, “My abuser loves me”, “I like to help others” all at the cost of personal honesty.
The answer to just about any lie you can conceive of or to the general question of why do people lie is poorly managed emotions. If you are not coping with your grief, fear or anxiety, you are probably lying.
Chances are you are attracted to this blog because you have been lied to.
The actual benefit of reading this is for YOU to learn how to let go of lying.
- The next time you feel tempted to lie, ask yourself, “Am I aware that I am feeling fear/anxiety or grief/loss”?
- If you aren’t in touch with the feelings, your first step is to develop your emotional awareness.
- If you CAN pinpoint those painful feelings, you now have a choice to make.
- Act out on the painful feeling or choose a healthier solution.
Yes, the healthy solution leads to discomfort through vulnerability, however it also creates long term emotional health and more opportunities for relief and joy which will not be burdened by feelings of guilt and shame. This is something I experience again and again in my Boca Raton marriage counseling and couples therapy practice.
Welcome to honesty!
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