We all know lying is bad. We learn this very early on. In fact, it’s one of the very first rules that we get as children from our parents and teachers: always tell the truth. Don’t lie.
And yet, many of us adults tell lies all the time. Women, especially, learn that it’s better to tell a “little white lie” than to tell the truth. After all, who really wants to know how we are? Or what we really think or want? The people who love us would probably be shocked. Or at least, very disappointed. The thought of losing their love – or their respect – is terrifying, or at least, unsettling. So we get good at telling lies. We lie to our spouses, our partners, our coworkers, our kids. We lie to our therapists, to God, and to our friends. Before we know it, we’re lying to ourselves, too – about our addictions, our bank accounts, our desires, our guilty pleasures. Lying becomes second nature. And it can be a staggeringly difficult habit to break.
You may be wondering, why try to break the habit of lying at all? If it makes everyone’s lives easier, is telling a little lie here and there really so bad?
Well, yes. The problem with lying is that it creates a secret. And secrets put up barriers between us and the things we cherish and want more of. They isolate us and make us fearful of being found out. Secrets affect the way we view ourselves. By working so hard to keep a secret, we begin to believe that we are unlovable, unlikeable, unworthy of good things happening to us. When we feel this way about ourselves, feeling joy or accomplishment can be near impossible. Secrets torpedo our ability to appreciate our own worth and to develop a sense of safety. Secrets destroy our self-confidence. They make vulnerability – the key ingredient of healthy intimacy – too frightening to bear. And if we can’t allow ourselves to be truly seen and known by another, then our relationships suffer. Secrets are literally making us sick.
How do we break the cycle of lying and keeping secrets?
1. Write down your top 4 secrets. They can be anything. Secrets that you keep about your own history or present, about your obsession with other people (hello, social media,) or about the horrible things you say to yourself with your inner voice. They all count.
2. For each secret, ask yourself 3 questions. How is this secret:
- Keeping you small?
- Holding you back?
- Protecting you?
Many of our secrets arise from a need for self-preservation – how is this secret accomplishing that for you? Secrets keep us in check and prevent us from getting too big – how is this secret achieving this for you?
3. Now ask yourself these 3 questions:
- What do you think would happen if you told somebody this secret?
- How would your life change if you no longer had this secret?
- How would you feel if somebody knew your secret?
There are no wrong answers. The point is to allow yourself to contemplate life without holding onto this secret. For most of us, imagining a scenario where the secret is finally gone allows us to see what a heavy load we’re carrying around. When we finally can envision letting go of that secret and feeling the weight of it leave our shoulders, we have taken an important first step toward living a more truthful life.
4. For one of your secrets, commit to letting it go.
If you’re not yet ready to tell someone your secret, it may mean writing it down, or meditating on how it feels to be rid of it. Let yourself feel how it might be to let go of this secret or lie. When we can physically feel the effects of coming clean with something, it becomes that much easier to move into that reality.
Lying isn’t anything to be ashamed of – we all do it – but making the decision to “lie less” can have a huge impact on your well-being. You deserve to live a lighter life, filled with more happiness and framed by a more accurate sense of reality.
If you feel as if you need help creating more truth in your life, schedule your complimentary 30-minute phone session here.