Thursday, January 29, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Lying. Fibbing. White lies. Big lies. Small lies. Twisting the truth. Exaggerating.

Whatever you want to call it, we all do it to some degree.

I know lately my children are in this phase where they will tell me a story about something that happened at school, or where one of their classmates said or did something that was either inappropriate or unbelievable. I'm not one of those Moms that just says, "oh? Really?" and lets them go along with the story. I always call them on it. I'll ask, "did this REALLY happen?" Usually the answer goes something like, "well not EXACTLY."

I'm a horrible liar. Really, really bad. Oh I can tell the little fib if I need to, yes. I'm not a saint! But that's usually something non-hurtful. You know the type, like where you don't want to go to a party or event so you make up a little untruth to spare the person's feelings. But even then, I'm wracked with guilt. I don't lie about things to my friends in terms of their asking my opinion, though. Whether it's on their clothing choice, or a bigger life choice issue, they know I'll give it to them straight. No, those pants do NOT do your booty justice!

But when it comes to a bigger lie, I can't do it. Even if I try!!! I get a serious case of the giggles. I just can't even get the words out. So, needless to say, everyone around me knows when I am lying. Studies have been done that show that there are cues when someone is lying. Like they'll rub their nose, or not be able to look you in the eyes, or shuffle their feet. How come I always seem to miss those? Does giggling like a mad fiend count as a clue?

And what's the deal with lying anyways???? When children tell a lie, it's usually to protect themselves from something they've done wrong. The old "the dog ate my homework" line. They don't want to get in trouble. They don't want to admit what they did, because they know inherently that it was wrong.

And I think the same goes for adults really. They lie to protect themselves from admitting wrongdoing. See, but adults are a tricky lot. They'll justify their lies to themselves. It is better to lie in this situation to protect the other persons feelings. Or, "what they don't know won't hurt them." But the thing about lies is, they create more lies. And it's been my experience that a lie usually finds a way out. And then you can't go back and undo it. And really, it's not the "other persons" feelings you are protecting, its your own butt. It's not really that different from a child.

So, are "good liars"people who just didn't get the memo in their childhood that, hello!, lying is wrong? Or are they sociopaths? Is something missing in their moral code? I just don't know. But I do know that I'm someone who would always prefer the truth. Even if it hurts. Obviously tact can go a long way in how you tell a difficult truth.

But when it comes to the 'big lie," in the end, the truth is, the one you are lying to is yourself.

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