I often lie to my friends and family and now it’s become a habit. I’ve gotten so comfortable with lying that I find it difficult not to tell a lie, even if a situation doesn’t demand it in anyway. I used to feel quite happy with the ease with which I could make up a story but now it occasionally scares me. My friends get upset with me and say that they will stop talking to me if I don’t stop. It doesn’t seem like enough of a wakeup call though. My parents tend to shout at me now and then but they are so busy that it’s forgotten quickly. Any suggestions on how I can change this? Help.
Thank you for writing in and discussing your issues with me. Life often throws us different events and most often, it is easier to lie than tell the truth in these situations. But if you tell a lie once, all your truths become questionable.
Lying made you feel good at first but the crux of the matter is that lying is not acceptable, whether it is to save someone else’s feelings or your own. Lies break a person’s trust – it is like crumpling a perfect piece of paper; you can smooth it over but it’s never going to be the same again. I’m happy to know that your ability to lie is now scaring you. It is a good indicator of your awareness that lying is not only wrong but also needs to stop. Your friends and family must really care about you to allow themselves to be subjected to this. I bet they feel awful knowing that they weren’t worth the truth.
The reason you haven’t been able to stop lying is because you’ve tried only because others have told you to. The need to change must come from within you. Trust takes years to build and only a moment to break. If you want to be trusted, start being honest. Ask yourself why you lie – could it be because the truth is embarrassing or it is just easier to get people’s attention through lying? Look for other ways to keep yourself happy – the good feeling will remind you that you don’t need to lie to find happiness. Anything is possible if you believe. Remember there are no mistakes, only learning opportunities. All the best.
My parents seem to have very high expectations from me and it tends to worry me a lot. I often find the pressure overwhelming and unrealistic. My elder brother passed away in a tragic accident a few years ago and ever since they have been counting on me to achieve his share of success too. Sometimes it makes me wish that I was in that accident instead of him. I tend to rebel and tell them that they are being unfair, after which they stop for a few days and then go back to the pressure. It’s exhausting. Any way I can better this?
Thank you for your email and discussing your predicament with me. I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I’m sure it’s been a really rough ride ever since. Grief is almost always harder than one would expect it to be. Helen Keller wrote ‘What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved, we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.’ For a parent, to lose a child is to lose a piece of themselves. Right now, it seems like they are trying to find your brother or hold on to as much as they can through you. It certainly is unfair and extremely difficult as you are grieving too and yet trying to move on. Are there times when the family just sits and talks to each other about how they’re coping as well as reminisce times spent with your brother? This might be cathartic and a great way to keep memories of him alive. You could ask your extended family to come over or encourage your parents to meet with friends or just keep themselves busy to remind themselves that life goes on and that there is still much to look forward to.
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to keep going when you really feel like giving up. Have faith in yourself, Rehaan – it makes things possible. Be strong and courageous!
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(The columnist is a psychologist and counsellor at the Sethu Centre for Child Development and Family Guidance.)