The Huddle #29: Why You Always Lyin'
I consider myself a pretty honest person. In fact, if there’s one thing that really gets to me, it’s deceit. And people who wear backpacks to crowded bars. This is why, whenever I launch a “Who stole the classroom fruit snacks” investigation, I take it very seriously. But if there’s one thing my fifth graders are teaching me these days, it’s that humans are conditioned to lie - to each other, and to ourselves- ALL. THE. TIME. You remember the days: you walk into the lunchroom, and Molly and her minions are staring at you from across the room. Clearly, they are plotting to destroy you. Those bitches.
While I’d like to think I/we have evolved since our mean girl days, not much has changed in my tendency to feed myself stories that simply aren’t true. Today, I bumped into a friend on the street who I hadn’t talked to in a few weeks. I had missed a party he hosted recently, which I felt badly about, and upon seeing him, I had made up an entire story in my head in which I was a villain and he was utterly crushed that I had missed his party. Turns out, I’m not that big of a deal. The funny thing is, I learned later that upon seeing me, he remembered that he had forgotten to text me back, and had made up a story in his head that I was mad at him for ignoring my last text. I hadn’t even noticed- turns out he’s not that big of a deal, either. I realized on my drive home just how caught up in our own heads we get, that we veer from reality and, in doing so, we distance ourselves from one another.
Even in yoga class, the place where we’re supposed to feel the most “tuned in”, it’s easy to bring a swath of lies into the studio. If I don’t catch myself, I’ll start making up all kinds of stories about the people around me, and about myself. This is often when my little self-critic kicks in, that sly little gremlin, and starts feeding my all kinds of nonsense about not being good enough, or not working hard enough.
According to Sam Harris in his book Lying, the thing about lying is that it distances us from those we want to connect to most. This may seem pretty obvious when it comes to the big lies- the fronts, deceits, and betrayals- but if we think about how often we lie to ourselves in a day, those little stories are creating a little more distance between you and you.
A mantra I’ve been trying out lately is this: tell the truth. This week, as a little gift to yourself, you might consider noticing when the lies start coming through. You could come back to what you know is real, and you could set the story down. For you, from you: tell the truth.