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When You Lie, Your Brain Is Actually Suffering

When You Lie, Your Brain Is Actually Suffering

Ever hear this: “Don’t lie, your nose will grow!” or “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”? One of the basic lessons of our childhood was to never tell a lie. We all know we shouldn’t lie, yet we seem to do it anyway. In fact, you’ve probably already lied today. Shaking your head “no”? Could be another lie. Research shows that most people tell 1 to 2 lies a day![1]

We always make excuses for our lies, too. “It’s not pathological lying, it’s a simple white lie.” “I said it so I wouldn’t hurt their feelings.” “I didn’t want to get in trouble.” So, what’s the big deal if everybody else is doing it? Well, as it turns out, lying could be affecting your brain and body.

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When you lie, your brain is overwhelmed

Lots of research has been conducted about the health effects of pathological lying and guess what? It could be detrimental to your health.

According to Arthur Markman, Ph.D., the very second that lie leaves your lips, your body releases cortisol into your brain. Just a few minutes later and your memory goes into overdrive trying to remember both the lie and the truth. Decision making becomes more difficult and you could even project your discomfort as anger. This is all in the first 10 minutes![2]

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When you lie, your stress increases

After these initial reactions, you may start to feel worried about your lie – or about being caught lying. To deal with this feeling, you might try to make up for the lie by treating the other person more kindly than normal. Or, the reverse could happen and you convince yourself it was their fault that you had to lie.

The day after the lie, one of two things might happen. If you are used to pathological lying, you may begin to believe the lie. If you are not used to pathological lying, you may still feel bad and try to avoid seeing the person you lied to. Continuing to feel guilty over your lie could lead to disrupted sleep patterns over a few days.[3]

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All of this additional stress has negative consequences on your health as well. It can increase your blood pressure, cause headaches and lower back pain, and reduce your white blood cell count (you need these to fight illness).[4] A lot of mental energy goes into telling and keeping up a lie, giving you anxiety and in some cases, depression. It doesn’t stop there. These feelings go on to affect your digestion, resulting in diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea, and cramps.

A Notre Dame research project looked into the effects of pathological lying. The study involved 110 volunteers, half of whom agreed to stop lying and the other half who received no instructions. At the end of 10 weeks, the group that lied less often had 54% fewer mental complaints (like stress or anxiety) and 56% fewer physical health issues (like headaches or digestive issues).[5]

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Stop Your Pathological Lying!

If lying is part of your daily routine (and let’s be honest, it probably is), then it’s going to be hard to simply stop. You can tell yourself you just won’t lie today, but you’ll probably end up doing it anyway. Just think about your best friend asking you if they have a good singing voice. Can you tell them the truth? I didn’t think so.

Stopping pathological lying takes time. Tell yourself you want to be more honest and make a conscious effort to cut down on your lying. Think twice before responding to a question. Can you avoid answering it? Is there a way to answer it and omit the truth?

Another great way to control pathological lying is to spend time with people who value the truth. Having friends who prefer to hear the truth and who encourage you to tell the truth can be really motivating. And if all else fails… think of your health!

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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