Nicole Paulhus
July 31, 2013 11:00 am

Yesterday I looked someone in the eye and spoke the opposite of the truth. The statement that left my lips could not have been a bigger lie. It was one of those small lies, insignificant in the grand scheme of things, said to protect someone’s feelings and maintain a healthy social relationship, but a lie nonetheless. The ease with which I told this lie startled me a bit. It made me think about all the lies I tell on a daily basis and how much I rely on these fibs to get by. This got me thinking about the movie Liar Liar. For the rest of the day every time I was asked a question, I thought, “What would I say if I were Jim Carrey in Liar Liar and I had to tell the truth?” If I were honest and spoke my true feelings about everything all the time, I would have no job and no friends. Lying is an essential survival skill in society. However, it still makes me nervous. Here are ten reasons why!

1. Making the Decision To Lie

Sometimes I don’t even know why I’m lying. It’s like my brain autofills a socially acceptable response even if it’s not accurate. My mouth is saying, “I love your new haircut!” while my brain is like, “Why did you say that? You hate that haircut.” Other times, the situation is more challenging and takes hours, maybe days to decide on truth v. lie. Both types of decisions make me nervous. The first because it’s terrifying that my brain is wired to produce such quick falsifications. The second because the potential fallout of big lies often involves hurting someone I care about.

2. Coming Up With a Lie

The process of coming up with a good lie is tricky. There are so many elements that go into a solid lie. It needs to be believable, but also somewhat flexible and easy to manipulate. It all becomes very complicated and stressful. I try to avoid it whenever possible.

3. Coming Up With Backstory

Details are the lifeblood of a good lie. If I’m telling my current employer that I have a doctor’s appointment when I actually have a job interview, I need to figure out the time of the appointment, where the office is, what type of doctor I’m seeing, why the appointment has to happen on that day, etc. I usually end up spending an excessive amount of time poring over these details, which never even come into play. Turns out people don’t care all that much about the color of my fictional doctor’s scrubs.

4. Actually Telling the Lie

The act of actually delivering the lie causes me to question every inch of my body. Am I nodding my head too much? What are my eyes doing? Am I sweating? I feel like I’m sweating. Can he tell that I’m sweating? And so forth and so forth. The higher the stakes, the worse I worry. When participating in a harmless prank, I’m a pro, I’m Meryl Streep. When something important is at stake, I overheat, over explain and shake like a baby bird.

5. Having to Keep Up The Lie

Once I’ve gotten away with a lie, I just want it to be over with. When someone brings it up days, weeks or months later, it causes me so much anxiety. Now I have to remember the details of the lie, stick to them and often times tell more lies to cover up the initial lie. It all gets to be too much and this is usually the point when I cave and just come clean. Sorry, I can’t recommend a chiropractor to you, because that appointment I said I had two months ago was actually a job interview. I didn’t get the job, please don’t fire me. Sorry!

6. Lying to Protect Others

When I’m lying to protect myself, I’m the one who has to deal with the consequences if I get caught. However, if I’m lying to protect someone else, I now hold their fate in my sweaty, shakey palms. I’m more than willing to go to bat for my friends, but the pressure of having to tell lies in order to protect their secrets can cause me anxiety. This is why I’m not friends with criminals. I would be awful at lying under oath.

7. The Guilt

Even if I feel as though I’m lying for the right reasons, I still end up with an overwhelming sense of guilt. Lying is a betrayal of someone’s trust and I hate to dirty up our relationship in that way. Also, I was raised Catholic, so guilt is just a part of that whole package.

8. The Fear of Being Caught

With a lie, along with the guilt, comes the fear of getting caught. I very rarely lied to my parents in high school for this reason. I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, I was usually pretty honest about my whereabouts. Living in constant fear of parental disappointment and monumental grounding just wasn’t worth it for me. A lie is like a ticking time bomb, at some point it’s probably going to explode in your face and carrying it around all the time is dangerous and daunting.

9. When You Don’t Know If Someone Knows

Remember the episode of Friends when Chandler and Monica knew that Phoebe and Rachel knew, but they didn’t know that they knew that they knew? Yeah, it’s complicated! Figuring out who knows what, how much they know and how sure they are of what they know can get extremely complicated. The truth can be rough, but it’s so much simpler and easy to manage.

10. Wondering If Everything Is a Lie

After examining all of my feelings about lies, I can’t help but question how often and to what extent other people are lying to me. Every compliment, every excuse, everything is now in question. How do I know if anything is true? What if everything is a lie? What if the world is a lie? What if none of this exists and everything is a dream and it’s not even our dream, it’s this dog’s dream?

Feature Image found .

Millie & Dog Image from Freaks & Geeks episode ‘Chokin and Tokin’ found here.

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