There are all kinds of reasons people lie, but at the root of most of them is fear. Too many people go through life holding back, or sacrificing their deepest desires, or never experiencing true intimacy, because they're afraid to say and live what's true for them.
Sometimes people lie because they don't want to hurt someone else. Sometimes it's because they want to do what they want to do, and don't want to have to factor in someone else's feelings. And sometimes it's because they've done something they wish they hadn't and want to rewrite history. Or keep things as they are.
People lie when they feel threatened or trapped. The thing is, if you want people to know you, understand you, and love you for who you are, you have to be willing to show yourself. And lying is a way of keeping yourself hidden.
Here are three ways to pull back the veil and free yourself so you can live in a way that feels good.
1. Know yourself.
This is really the key. If you don't know what lights you up, what will bring you peace and joy and give your life meaning and purpose, there's no internal GPS to follow. Without that, it feels like we're walking in the dark, bumping into things or people, hurting ourselves or others inadvertently.
Follow the pull of your heart, and listen to your intuition. Neither of those will steer you in the wrong direction. Don't worry about logic or practicality for just a little while; simply allow yourself to move toward those things that fulfill you and give you the sense of being in the flow. For me it was yoga, for you it might be something completely different. (And I'm not talking about breaking commitments to people or shirking your responsibilities, I'm simply saying give yourself permission to explore pursuits that bring you joy.) Recognize that in order to do this, you may need to make big changes in your life.
When we've been flying blind, it's likely we've landed ourselves in relationships and jobs that have nothing to do with that inner yes. Tell the people closest to you that you're feeling the need to change things up. That you aren't happy in that deep way, and that you're trying to get to know yourself. Understand that some people may feel threatened, but no one can fault you for trying to find some peace and meaning if you haven't already. Life is short, after all.
2. Face reality as it is.
As you get to know yourself in a profound way, it's very possible you will realize there are areas in your life that don't fit anymore. If it's a relationship, this realization can be brutal, but it's probably something you've known for a long time and haven't wanted to face. Sometimes we lie to ourselves, and those are the most painful lies. Betraying what's true for you at your core is the deepest rejection there is. There's no way to feel connected or seen or understood by anyone else if you aren't even able to do those things for yourself. A relationship or a job that is crushing you is like dead weight on your heart; it's hard to breathe.
Sometimes people tell me they're living in pain because they don't want to hurt the other people in their lives. The thing is, everyone deserves to be truly loved. If you're in a relationship with someone and you're just going through the motions, do you think the other person can't feel that on some level? I don't believe anyone would thank you for staying out of guilt or pity. If there are children involved, then you work like hell to save it. You do anything and everything in your power to right the ship. You work to see if something true and beautiful, even if it's a glimmer of something that existed years and years ago, can be fed.
But you don't do anyone any favors by being a martyr. You can't nurture anything or anyone, including yourself, in a dead environment. And that's what happens when we deny our own reality. Something within us starts to wither and die, and the roots begin to shrivel.
3. Respect people enough to tell them the truth.
There are big lies and little lies. If your old Aunt Marge knits you a horrendous hat for Christmas, of course you thank her. You might even wear the hat when you see her, because that's what love looks like sometimes.
But I know so many people who lie because they don't want to have a painful conversation. And it can be about small stuff, like something they want to buy, but know their partner wouldn't support. Like an expensive pair of shoes or jeans, or a new toy.
When you do something behind someone's back, you know what you've done, whether you get away with it or you don't. You have to live with the fact that you've done something sneaky. That's not going to make you feel good about yourself. You put on those sneaky jeans or pair of shoes, and say they're really old when your partner comments on them. And now you have to live with your sneaky self. And that energy permeates a relationship.
Now you've hidden a relatively small thing; what else might you hide next? An email flirtation, tea with a "friend" you like in a way that scares you? Once you start hiding from the people closest to you, it's only a matter of time before you feel very alone. And it also becomes hard to trust yourself. To trust in your goodness, in your ability to be kind to yourself and to the people in your life. There are some things you don't need to share, of course. If you see someone on line at the grocery store and you think they're attractive, you don't need to go home and tell your partner; that's called being human.
But if you have an energy building with someone at work, that's something you need to talk about, sooner rather than later. An uncomfortable conversation, while painful and not desirable, is still so much better than an emotional betrayal that you allow to grow. You're better off regrouping, whether it's something small or something big.
Speaking your truth or honoring your truth doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want. Sometimes there's confusion about that in the spiritual community. It means you have the painful conversations. It means you acknowledge what's in your heart, and then you decide together what to do about it. That's called integrity, and that will make you feel good about yourself, even if the process isn't fun sometimes.
Life is not easy. It's beautiful and heartbreaking and frequently awe-inspiring. But it isn't easy. Being a human being with all your history and all your experiences, with the particular lens through which you look is a vulnerable undertaking indeed. But you make things a lot easier for yourself, and for all the people in your life when you live in a way that opens your heart. And you simply can't do that if you're denying your deepest truths.
"Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." (This is not a direct quote from the Buddha, it's paraphrased. Truth! :)