There comes a time in your life where you acknowledge a few home truths about yourself. When the monkey mind rattles a few re-occurring thoughts at you and you begin to question why you believe those thoughts. A big loud thought that likes to rattle on inside my mind is ‘You are such a fake!’ I guess it has not been until I began practising mindfulness that it became so impactful and noticeable.
A few days ago I began to consider why I have felt a fake for most of my life and I realise it was time to make peace and embrace my own inner Pinocchio.
This is not the easiest blog post to write; not the easiest thing to admit to; in fact it’s damn hard.
I was watching one of my favourite TV shows ‘Perception’ last night, and one of the subjects was secrets and how biologically the body responds better to surrendering our secrets to the world than holding them in, yet we are also a race of people who feel torn between hiding secrets and letting them go. And as someone this past week on Facebook accused me of being ‘Perfect’ in a ‘Ooh look at you, you’re so perfect’ way, I wanted to set the record straight, not for this person might I add (they unfriended me) but because I feel sometimes that what holds us back are the perceived ‘demons’ we have inside that we resist bringing into full awareness.
And my confession is:
I have lied most of my life.
What Do You Mean You Have Lied Most Of Your Life?
From a very early age I lost all confidence when communicating who I was. At an early age an event knocked my confidence so badly that I felt I needed to protect myself by lying. I lied about what I knew, about who I was, and now I realise that this is no longer something to hate about myself. In fact it is time to love my Pinocchio self.
I often receive messages in my dreams and this past 2 weeks I have had a lot of dreams containing messages. The first dream involved my meeting old school friends for some sort of reunion. All the girls arrived at my home (before we went to the hall), all dressed in wealthy impressive gowns. Well, I was not dressed and neither was a friend of mine. As we walked towards my home they were gossiping, so I told them off (something I would never have done at school), and I then proclaimed very loudly:“Hey! YES! I am Kelly Martin and now I speak!”.
Why Do We Lie?
Now I don’t feel I’m the only person who has lied in their lives, so this is why I’ve published this post. But loving my Pinocchio, I have discovered that lying has been such a safe protection for me, for most of my life. I was not comfortable with who I was; I did not fit in; and I found it immensely challenging to communicate verbally. So Pinocchio protected me. Like a guard at my door when people intentionally try to hurt me, or when the world felt somewhat mean to me as a child, Pinocchio saved me. And even to some extent now Pinocchio helps me feel safe. I don’t want to rely on Pinocchio any-more.
“Saints may always tell the truth, but for mortals living means lying. We lie to protect our privacy (“No, I don’t live around here”); to avoid hurt feelings (“Friday is my study night”); to make others feel better (“Gee you’ve gotten skinny”); to avoid recriminations (“I only lost $10 at poker”); to prevent grief (“The doc says you’re getting better”); to maintain domestic tranquility (“She’s just a friend”); to avoid social stigma (“I just haven’t met the right woman”); for career advancement (“I’m sooo lucky to have a smart boss like you”); to avoid being lonely (“I love opera”); to eliminate a rival (“He has a boyfriend”); to achieve an objective (“But I love you so much”); to defeat an objective (“I’m allergic to latex”); to make an exit (“It’s not you, it’s me”); to delay the inevitable (“The check is in the mail”); to communicate displeasure (“There’s nothing wrong”); to get someone off your back (“I’ll call you about lunch”); to escape a nudnik (“My mother’s on the other line”); to namedrop (“We go way back”); to set up a surprise party (“I need help moving the piano”); to buy time (“I’m on my way”); to keep up appearances (“We’re not talking divorce”); to avoid taking out the trash (“My back hurts”); to duck an obligation (“I’ve got a headache”); to maintain a public image (“I go to church every Sunday”); to make a point (“Ich bin ein Berliner”); to save face (“I had too much to drink”); to humor (“Correct as usual, King Friday”); to avoid embarrassment (“That wasn’t me”); to curry favor (“I’ve read all your books”); to get a clerkship (“You’re the greatest living jurist”); to save a dollar (“I gave at the office”); or to maintain innocence (“There are eight tiny reindeer on the rooftop”)….
An important aspect of personal autonomy is the right to shape one’s public and private persona by choosing when to tell the truth about oneself, when to conceal, and when to deceive. Of course, lies are often disbelieved or discovered, and that, too, is part of the push and pull of social intercourse. But it’s critical to leave such interactions in private hands, so that we can make choices about who we are. How can you develop a reputation as a straight shooter if lying is not an option? ”
And realising that this is something most of us do has brought me some relief.
Lying doesn’t mean I am or was a bad person. I was and I am a human being.
Sometimes if the ego is fragile and faced with someone who ‘appears’ ultra confident, we lie to save face; we lie to feel emotionally safe; to not feel so small; to not feel so inferior. And I imagine with time, as we become more balanced, and feel more compassion for who we really are, we have no need to exaggerate the truth to feel safe.
Does it mean I am fake? Or am I simply lovingly protecting myself so that I can relate to this sometimes scary, but also beautiful world? Fake to only my true self who is natural, authentic and confident perhaps..
Can I love Pinocchio fully? Will I give up lying altogether?
Is it a bad thing to lie? Do you lie? And what kind of things do you lie about?
How do you feel about lying?
We’re all in this together in this world. Perhaps it’s now time to bring these shadows into the light so they are no longer ‘wrong’ or judged to be bad, and only then can we begin to embrace who we really are without the need to amend the truth about our knowledge, our status, our understanding, our wisdom, our talents, and begin to be honest with the world. Perhaps the world can handle more honesty now, perhaps we are reaching a time when it is okay to verbalise our thoughts in ways that work for us, and not what we feel will work for others.
I have favourite characters in movies and on television. The characters I love the most are often eccentric, deeply honest individuals. I love Phoebe from ‘Friends’, Miranda from the British TV series and anyone who openly says what they feel when they feel it. No holding back. They know who they are and they don’t feel the need to exaggerate or change for others (albeit Miranda does try but she shows exactly what happens when we try to be someone we’re not). I guess it all comes down to fear, which is the reason I may not be like this, but I would like to be. Fear of whether people will approve.
But, I’m aware that total honesty is not a possibility in our social interactions; that if we all told everyone else exactly what we thought of them, society would fall apart. It couldn’t function.
This is one of the problems when parents tell children that they must never lie, because the children see and hear their patents lying quite frequently. We need to explain to them that being honest to the point of hurting other people’s feelings is not good, and that there are some circumstances where we would be justified to either not tell the whole truth, or to distort the truth to protect another’s feelings.
It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but children need guidance so that they can function as valued members of society.
I think that the most important honesty is being honest with ourselves, and that’s not easy.
Letting Approval Go
As someone who has kept her mouth shut for most of her life for fear of embarrassment, I would like to let the need for approval from others go now. It may take some time to do this. I know it’s a pattern I have been following for 30+ years. I wonder if I can do it now. Baby steps, one moment at a time.