Lies, lies, and denial

There is an energy around a lie that is different from the energy around the truth, or the truth as we know it to be. Several of the readings I’ve done in the last few weeks have raised the topic and so I have been giving it some thought. As I get older and more experienced with people lying to me or to others around me, I find my awareness increasing around when it’s happening in the moment; as opposed to seeing it in hindsight. I may not always know what the lie is, or why the person is lying, but I think I can often tell when it happens.

I think denial is a kind of lying to the self. I’ve come to the conclusion that it most often comes from an inability to face the truth, or what we fear is the truth and what it might mean, perhaps because we feel we are helpless before it. This would mean that very often we lie out of plain old fear. It seems to me that fear is so powerful that the person who is in denial can refuse to see what is pointed out to them, even when the evidence is overwhelming.

How does one get through to that person? Is it even possible? When confronted with lies and/or denial, I find myself hanging on to the hope that one day the person will see what the lies really do in their life; the pain it causes, the further lies to cover up the original lies, the betrayal. We tend to hang in and hope that the boss, family member, or friend will say, “Maybe there is something to what you’re saying. Let me have a look at it and I’ll get back to you.” I hear people saying that they would be happy just to be able to open some dialog. Or they get too frustrated and they give up and walk away.

I’m coming to understand that such an admission of the possibility of letting go of the lies is much more difficult than we might imagine when we wish for it. I suppose it depends what we imagine is the underpinning issue that is causing all the fear. For instance, if the person in question were to believe that he or she is basically a flawed and unworthy human being, and that they would be completely abandoned if anyone were to find out, then that belief would form the cornerstone of their behaviour around everything. It would be the seminal denial and every lie they told would spring from that fear and be designed to protect themselves against ultimate abandonment.

By the time someone came along and pointed out just one little lie or one form of denial that was part of that fabric of lies, acknowledging it would be tantamount to letting someone take the end of the ball of yarn and pull on it. It could unravel their self image and their whole life could fall apart. For them, it might have to be all or nothing in terms of defending the lies. They couldn’t allow anyone to touch any part of the web without their whole self image being put in jeopardy.

For some of us, our self esteem is solid enough that we can take a look at what comes our way without it disturbing the bedrock of our identity, although it might still be uncomfortable or even painful to look. Perhaps those people in our lives who are lying or are in denial see that basic confidence in us and believe that we wouldn’t understand how they feel. They might feel that such a strong person has ‘all the cards’, certainly in the confidence department, and they have fewer cards, or none. The other person has power; they don’t. The other person is resilient; they’re vulnerable. The other person has nothing to lose and they’re at risk. It wouldn’t seem like an even playing field to them and therefore not safe enough to take such a huge risk as to uncover themselves, even to themselves.

Those people with strong, basic self confidence might try showing their vulnerability, believing that this would demonstrate that they have fears as well, but even that may not work. It’s as though even that disclosure is something that you can only make if you’re confident enough. And you can’t pretend to be less confident than you are; that would insult their intelligence.

The realization I’m finally coming to is that there very often isn’t anything you can do, except love them and leave them to get on with their path in life. Even if you’re naturally more confident, or even if you’ve worked hard on yourself to get there, you’re still human. You’ll misspeak at times, and lose patience, and feel angry. But banging on the door of the person who’s in denial is only going to give you a sore hand.

Occasionally, with some people, you might be able to get through. We tend not to have as much emotional baggage with people outside our families and maybe it makes it easier to resolve conflicts with them than it is closer to home. We tend not to be as invested and so are less likely to take offense or get so scared that it’s beyond our ability to find a solution.

Having said that, there are times when most of us get triggered by something that pushes our hot buttons and makes us reactive. I had one of those this week! I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the years, enough to be able to see when it was happening and to pull back and reconsider my reaction– this time.

What I hope is that there are enough of us who are willing and able to take the risk to face what we fear and do the work of rebuilding our confidence, to the point where we don’t feel that denial or lying are our only options, so that way down deep inside ourselves we will be confident that we can somehow find our way through the fear and conflict and out at the other end.

In the meantime we need to remember that, sometimes it won’t be within our ability to affect the situation directly. That’s the key: not within our ability. We do have the power to work on improving our abilities, all of us. But whilst we’re doing that, sometimes we’ll have to wait and trust that there will be someone, somewhere, who is in the right position to help that person we care about, even though it might not be us just yet.

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