This is the final blog in my three part series on the topic of lying. In part one we asked ‘If someone is lying to you, what to do?’. Part two covered ‘Why kids lie, and what can parents do?’ This week, what if you’re concerned about how your own lies are impacting on your life and the people around you?
For many of my clients, whether they’ve come for anxiety counselling, support with stress, counselling for relationship issues, depression, or other concerns, lying is somehow part of the problem. For example, someone suffering from stress, or depression, may lie to keep up the façade that everything is ok, and then find that it becomes more and more difficult to ask family and friends for help. Or someone may have been caught out lying to their partner, causing pain, distress, and potentially the end of their relationship.
How to stop myself from lying?
If you find that you are telling lies, constantly embellishing, deceiving friends, family and/or colleagues, what can you do?
1. Recognise the problem.
As with so many things being honest with yourself, and admitting that lying is a problem behaviour for you, is a great start. Also recognise your inner critic, who may be encouraging you to lie so you live up to your image of ‘how you should be’. Give yourself credit for who you actually are, and for your courage in deciding to change.
2. Get help
Family and close friends are one source of help; start the conversation and let them know you’re not happy with your habit of lying, and that you want to change. My first blog in this three part series “If someone is lying to you, what to do”, included tips that you can share with family and friends, so they have some tools to help you.
You can also get external help, for example online forums and groups like those provided by Beyond Blue, where you can share and ask support from other people struggling with similar issues. Or counselling can help with lying, and with underlying issues that are leading you to habitually tell lies.
3. Look at triggers and intent.
Are there particular situations where you frequently catch yourself lying? Is it with particular people, situations, moods? Think about how you’re feeling at that time, and what is the intent of the lie; to feel better, achieve a particular outcome?
• Are you worried about how family, friends or colleagues etc would react to the truth? Do you feel they may be disappointed or disapproving?
• Are you putting undue pressure on yourself, or have unrealistic expectations?
• Is your intent to control the story to keep control of the situation or outcome?
For example, not telling the whole story so people will choose the outcome that you want, or to make it look like someone else is to blame for something that has gone wrong?
Plan how to act instead of lying. What will you do in a situation where your old reaction would have been to lie? Are there certain people you need to avoid for a while? Can you practice taking a breath before jumping in to answer a question?
If you recognise that you’re about to tell a lie, pause. Take a deep breath or a moment to reflect on your thoughts; considering why you were about to lie, and reminding yourself of your goal of stopping lying. If you do lie, try to correct that lie as soon as possible, apologise and try again.
6. Remind and reflect
Start each day with a reminder that you don’t want to lie to people anymore, and a goal that you feel is attainable for you. Keep an eye on patterns, noting where you’re finding it easier to be truthful, and any areas where you’re still struggling. End each day by reflecting on what went well.
7. Self care
It’s easier to make changes, support new habits, and generally feel better about yourself if you are looking after your health and well-being. Things like getting enough sleep, reducing stress, getting outside, finding and doing exercise that suits you, and eating well will all support you to feel better, and more able to sustain positive changes.
And that’s the end of the three part blog series on lying; I hope it helps. As ever, if you’ve any questions please get in touch. All the best, Louise