I just read the excellent post, “Lost on the Spiritual Path” by the blogger known as Grady. The post is about lying, and how toxic this practice can be for those who are on the spiritual journey. Because the theme had been on my mind a lot lately, I had recently produced a list of seven reasons why I think people lie.
1. They’re trying to cover something up. Typical is when one makes it seem like their being a victim in a certain situation had nothing to do with a poor choice they had made, and was solely the effect of some surprise ambush. An example would be someone who emphasizes how badly they had been abused, when in reality they were the one who started the fight.
2. They’re exaggerating the severity of a situation in which they were mistreated in order to deflect attention away from some poor choice of their own. An example would be someone whose business was closed down by the Internal Revenue Service. They might extol the horrors of the I.R.S. so that people won’t focus on the simple fact that they didn’t pay their taxes.
3. They’re minimizing something that makes them embarrassed or ashamed. An example would be saying “way back when” when the event occurred only three or four months ago. “Oh, I had a drinking problem way back when!” (Actually, they just had a drink last night.)
4. They’re trying to sustain a positive false impression in the eyes of someone whom they don’t want to know the truth. An example would be someone telling their parents they had a full time job with benefits when actually they were unemployed. Or maybe they would tell them how happy they were in their relationship, when actually it was on the rocks.
5. They themselves are in denial. They inwardly don’t want to believe that things are as bad as they are, so they develop convenient, convincing falsehoods that most people will not question.
6. They are story tellers. They like to create colorful stories, and often do so at the expense of truth. Such people are probably deeply dissatisfied with some aspect of reality. So they feel they need to adjust it a bit in order to cope.
7. Finally, they do not believe that there is, or should be, an absolute truth. Their truth varies according to whoever they’re talking to, depending on which falsehood they think will best serve them. They think everything is “subjective” or “relative” in a self-defined Universe that is elusive, and constantly in flux.
These sorts of people give themselves free reign to change all the time, so long as they can get away with it. Such people are usually extremely overconfident, and in a sense self-deifying. They overestimate their capacity to “create their own reality” at the expense of acknowledging the reality that’s actually happening.
They will fly closer and closer to the sun like Icarus, until finally they crash and burn. People like these are known to hit swift and certain bottoms at some point in their lives. They need to be shocked out of their unreasonable self-indulgence before they realize who they truly are.
If you pray, please pray for all of these kinds of liars — especially for the kind described in Point Seven. The irony is that they are often very intelligent, with great gifts to offer. For my part, I pray they come to realize that the Giver of all good gifts is God.
For your part, what are some reasons why you think people lie?
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