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Why Lying Becomes Second Nature for Some People

Why Lying Becomes Second Nature for Some People

We all occasionally lie. Most of the time, it’s a small lie that doesn’t have much of an effect, and sometimes it’s a big lie that can end up hurting you or others in some way. However, we all know that lying, in general, isn’t a good thing to do, and we try not to make it a habit. But for some people, lying becomes second nature or even a way of life.

You might have come across a compulsive liar at some point in your life. Maybe they were a work colleague or a friend or even a partner. Compulsive lying, also known as pseudologia fantastica, pathological lying, and mythomania, describes a condition in which an individual lies habitually and often for no reason at all.[1]

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Not only do compulsive liars bend the truth about issues large and small, they take comfort in it. Lying feels right to a compulsive liar. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is difficult and uncomfortable [2] , so lying becomes an addiction.

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What’s Distinctive of a Compulsive Liar

  • They lie frequently, about anything. Even something that makes no difference whether they lie about it or not.
  • They seek attention. They might use lies as a way to get attention.
  • Their stories always change. This is because they can’t remember all the lies they’ve told.
  • They refuse to admit they’re lying when confronted, even when it has been proven they are. They also may become angry when caught lying [3] .
  • Sometimes you can identify a compulsive liar by their body language. They may not be able to look you in the eye when lying, they could be fidgety, they could have closed off body language, like keeping their arms crossed, and they might even start to sweat. However, body language is not a reliable way of identifying a compulsive liar because, if they’re an experienced liar, they may not do any of these things.

If you’ve had experience with a compulsive liar, you were probably puzzled at why they felt the need to lie so much.

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The Secret Behind the Rise of Every Compulsive Liar

  • Admiration and Popularity. They want rewards and admiration without actually working for it. They want to gain attention and popularity. The person usually has feelings of low self esteem and inadequacy, and admiration and popularity is craved because it temporarily boosts their self esteem and makes them feel less inadequate. So they tell lies to help feed that craving.
  • Control and Manipulation. They use lies to gain control where they normally wouldn’t have control and to manipulate others around them into doing what they want. The lying continues because of the thrill of getting away with the manipulation or seeing that their attempt to gain control worked. They might also need to keep lying to keep the control and manipulation going.
  • Low Self Esteem. The underlying reason a person might want admiration and popularity or to gain control is usually because of low self esteem. They feel down about themselves so they lie or make up stories in order to make themselves look better to other people. They are constantly afraid that they will be rejected by people so they exaggerate their good qualities or make up things about themselves that they think will make them look good to others.
  • Pathological Lying. Although compulsive lying and pathological lying are often used interchangeably, sometimes pathological lying is viewed as a slightly different disorder. The difference between the two is that a pathological liar will lie for absolutely no reason, and do so very convincingly [4] . If a person does not lie because of low self esteem, or in order to gain popularity, admiration, control or manipulation, then they might be diagnosed as a pathological liar, rather than a compulsive liar. A pathological liar is also often a sociopath who lacks empathy, and they lie just because they can.

However, both compulsive lying and pathological lying are usually a symptom of a bigger issue, such as:

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Addiction or Substance Abuse
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Sociopathy

Compulsive liars can be hurtful to people around them, especially those who are close to them, like friends and partners. Because they can be manipulative and controlling, they often manipulate the emotions of those who care about them. If the lying is a symptom of a bigger disorder, they might lack empathy so they cannot see how their lies are hurtful and destructive. They could be serial cheaters or even mentally and emotionally abusive. Above all, they are untrustworthy.

How to Win the Game with Compulsive Liar

  • Make sure they are actually a compulsive liar. Sometimes people lie but that doesn’t always make them a compulsive liar. In order for someone to be a compulsive liar their lies have to be habitual and excessive. For example, a friend going through financial problems but telling you things are fine because they don’t want you to know, is not compulsive lying. A friend who constantly tells you unnecessary stories, which you often find out are untrue, might be a compulsive liar.
  • Try to catch them out in a lie. Pay attention to their story. Stop them when they tell an obvious lie by asking them how what they’re saying could be true. Question them about small contradictions or ask them for specific details when they’re telling a story. This will make them uncomfortable and they might try to change the subject.
  • Reassure them. If they are a someone close to you, remember that they are compulsive lying because they likely have self esteem or other issues. Reassure them that you like them for who they are and that they don’t need to impress you. You can also tell them about your own insecurities, letting them know that they aren’t the only ones who feel this way.
  • Confront them about their lies. – Make sure that you have proof that they are lying before you go to confront them.Be tactful in the way you confront them as they may get angry or defensive. A compulsive liar might also unconsciously believe their lies, so help them to see the truth instead of outright accusing them of lying. Suggest professional help, let them know that you want to help and that you will support them.
  • Stay away from them. A compulsive liar might be unwilling to change or seek help. If that is the case, you will need to decide whether or not you want to stay in their lives and deal with their lies. If it is a person you are not close to or invested in, stay away from them and don’t encourage their stories.
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Reference

[1] GoodTherapy: Compulsive Lying
[2] TruthAboutDeception: Compulsive Lying
[3] WikiHow: 3 Ways to Spot a Pathological Liar
[4] LoveToKnow: Compulsive Lying Disorder

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Sheena Vincent

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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