I want you to think about the last time you lied. Think about it… why did you lie?
The reason why a person lies will be unique to the individual that lied and, the number of times a person lied will be very much so depending on their definition of a lie.
If you lead someone to believe something other than the truth or insinuate something other than the truth, then you’ve lied. So it doesn’t matter whether you said the lie outright or if you were quiet when a statement was made, that ‘I’d rather not reveal the goods kind of quiet’ that leads the other person to believe something other than the truth, it’s a lie. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but once you consciously lead someone to believe something other than the truth, it becomes a lie because what is not the truth, automatically becomes a lie. It can’t be a half truth which is invariably the same thing as a half lie. If it is not 100% truth, then you just lied – no matter by how little or how great. Notice I used the word ‘consciously’ because it is not your fault if someone gets a misunderstood message from a signal/communication/silence etc if and only if you did not lead them on knowingly.
The definition of a lie is important because some will swear they have never lied, or have lied only a few times just because they did not count the multiple times they led someone to believe something other than the truth because of their well timed smiles, winks, sighs, silence, yesses or nays. And for some people, they’ve been lied to enough or have said a lie so much that they now believe it’s the truth and cannot seem to have any recollection of a truth different from that. Lies are that powerful.
A woman walked into the clinic one day with her son, she had been told by the doctors before that when certain symptoms arise in her child, he would be put on the list for surgery but that until that time, he could continue with the medications he was on. Her child had a problem with his heart, the clinic was paediatric cardiology. That morning, she walked in with her child having all of these symptoms that miraculously hid from all the tests done, symptoms that chose to perform a disappearing act in their little magic show no one but they knew about. The doctor kindly smiled and told her nothing was wrong with her child and that all the tests came back same as before. If those symptoms she complained of were there, then there should have been a worsening of the issue which was not the case. When the woman and the son left the room, the doctor told us how important it was for us to spot important details. The woman had heard that specialists were flying in to perform free surgeries on paedaitric cardio patients that made the list. She was trying to protect her child.
Another incident was when I was rotating at the gynaecology department of a hospital just past August/September. A lady walked in complaining her ‘sick leave’ document had been damaged because she was trying to wash her clothes or something or the other that involved water which wet up the paper and her daughter or somebody tore it up and when she went to submit to the organisation (that approves of such leaves and makes sure to rule out fraud on both the doctors’ and patients’ part), they did not accept it because it was damaged and told her to get a new one from the doctor that signed the old one, and they kept it, that is, refused to give her the damaged one. The gist of the matter was that she wanted a new one and because she had not returned to her place of work at the time specified by the last document, ‘please Doctor can you write me a new one with coming — as the said return date so that I can just resume work then?’ – in a nutshell. Upon questioning, the stories did not add up and the doctor kept telling her there was no way they would not return the document to her if they were not accepting it, that was not the way the organisation worked. Along the line, ‘Oh doctor let me still check my bag to see if it’s probably there’ and behold, the document seemed to perform a reappearing act in her purse with no signs of previous damage but with a cancellation on the date previously signed. The organisation had refused to validate the sick leave because there was a cancellation on the document without an accompanying signature to verify that the doctor had been the one to change the date. And now, she was asking the doctor to write up a new one with a preferred date because she had missed more days of work and she did not want to lose her pay for those days. The doctor told her she could write a new one but could not extend the date previously written because the illness/procedure she had did not take that long for recovery and that would lead to her being investigated by law officials. That lie almost cost a doctor her license.
So why do people lie?
Like I said, the reason why a person lies will be unique to the individual that lied. Ever wonder why they say ‘liar! liar! pants on fire!‘? I think the reason people lie is interwoven to that phrase more firmly than we think. I believe the reason we lie majority of the time is to protect. We see or probably feel ‘something’ associated with us potentially burning, a potential loss that triggers that ‘burn’ in our pants to lie to somehow protect it. Now, the thing or person to be protected can be questioned… should be questioned, especially when we are on the receiving end of these lies.
So people lie to protect (most of the time, in my opinion). If a person is caught doing something wrong, they’ll most likely lie to protect themselves. In other cases, we lie to make something less painful to the ones we love that way trying to ‘protect’ them. Some on the other hand delude themselves by thinking they protect both because the lie benefits them and they say ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?!‘, so they arrogantly find sainthood in their lies believing they protect the ones they supposedly ‘love’.
When we lie to protect the ones that we love (other than ourselves) or when the part of the information that was twisted was small compared to the rest of the information, we say no harm! no foul! Translation – white lie. But a lie does not have a colour.
Another major reason people lie if they are not trying to protect something; their pride, name, themselves, people they love or whatever it is, is to take. To steal. People lie to satisfy a selfish want at the expense or really not caring at all about the one they are stealing from or the effect their stealing will have on the one they stole from. So for the most part, I think the major reasons people lie is to achieve/satisfy a selfish want which is the stealing part, or to protect something or try to hide or cover up something from being discovered.
The problem with lies is just that;
- The moment one lie is discovered, every other truth is questioned
- The moment truth is questioned, trust falters.
- One lie spoken may need multiple lies to maintain.
- The more frequently we lie, the more naturally it comes, and the more we are changed to be creatures of habit.
- The more we hear lies/the more we repeat lies, the more they become camouflaged as truth and the more we come to know it as the truth which invariably alters what we believe, and possibly who we are.
Lies are that powerful.
So, what’s the worst lie you’ve ever told? and what’s the best you’ve ever been told? Don’t lie.