A teacher once said to me, “Most people are lying to themselves most of the time.”
“Yah, right,” I thought as I blew off the concept as nonsense.
However, that kind of statement has a way of sticking with you, and I couldn’t get it out of my thoughts. “How often am I lying to myself?” I wondered.
I started monitoring my thoughts and my words. I would catch myself frequently speaking the truth—almost. I’d hear myself saying things like, “I always show up on time to an event if I’m going there alone.” “I never say bad things about my family.” “I’m completely over my family of origin issues.” If something happened twice, I would exaggerate and make it sound like it happened all the time.
Some of what I was saying was true, but exaggerated. Yes, I was usually on time when I went to an event alone, but not always. I didn’t usually say bad things about my family anymore, but I wasn’t completely immune to gossiping. About the time I thought I was completely over anything, I usually ended up pulling up some new corner of the carpet only to find some dust bunnies that had not yet been cleaned out. Somehow I thought in order to make my point, I needed to make it sound more dramatic in order to ensure I would be heard.
With my most intimate friends I would act like everything was okay, when I was really upset about something. When I was angry with my partner, through gritted teeth, I would tell him everything was just fine and turn my back on him. When it came to healing, here was the worst one: I told myself I really felt great, as though my subconscious mind didn’t know I was lying to myself.
Then I started listening to other people. I listened with my inner, spiritual ears, not just my outer ones. I could tell when someone told me everything was fine and it wasn’t. With just a few compassionate questions, I frequently discovered what a person was really feeling and experiencing inside. I listened to my friends exaggerate stories about situations, where I had been present and knew what had really happened. I listened to people make excuses in order to feel better about themselves.
I wasn’t the only one lying to myself.
Now I’m not advocating a life of moping and complaining. I’m not suggesting that positive affirmations can’t help you make changes in beliefs and behavior. And I’m not suggesting that a little exaggeration in story-telling should be banned.
What I discovered was that lying to myself didn’t help me feel any better and it didn’t meet the need that I most longed to have met. I wanted to be heard and deeply understood. So my little lies were ways in which I was trying to get attention.
Thank goodness for talking circles. By sitting with others in circle and agreeing to speak only truth, I soon realized that it is far more fulfilling to hear my real truth. As I learned to tell the truth more and more, I discovered that I trusted myself more and I created more authentic, trusting relationships with other.
In healing, I soon discovered that stating I didn’t feel well, was quite different than complaining or whining about it. By stating it plainly, I was acknowledging what was real and in doing so, I discovered I was more invested in making a change. When I complained or exaggerating how I felt, in retrospect, I realize I was feeding the illness. Pretending I was feeling okay was a form of denial and didn’t establish trust between my conscious and subconscious mind.
Simply telling the truth was all I needed to motivate me to act with greater conviction on my own behalf. I used affirmations that were more honest in my healing. I’m drinking this medicinal tea so that I will feel better, and I am grateful for the healing energy of this herb. I give thanks for its soothing nature and how my body receives its healing gifts. I felt what I was saying as I spoke, honestly and with hope.
Maybe he was right. Maybe most people are lying to themselves most of the time. I certainly found that my little lies were holding me back from true healing freedom. Truth is a powerful healer, and now that I know that, I do my best to courageously speak my real truth so that my subconscious mind and conscious mind can work together for my greater health.