How do you know when you’re lying to yourself?

This post is inspired by the person who searched online for – psychological signs that your brain is trying to tell you you’re being taken advantage of – and ended up on my blog,

in the stats as a search term which caught my eye as I perused them to see what journeys you were taking which caused you to take a detour into this weird little polka dot in a sea of other dotty dots.

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birds - richard feynman

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We’re often so concerned about other people

what they’re thinking or feeling (about us),

what they’re up to (which may include us or exclude us – which is worse or better?)

whether they’re loving or hating (us),

liking or disliking (us),

using (us),

abusing (us),

or simply being themselves (in a way which may not agree with us).

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mental mastermind... not really!

(I got this as a result on a very silly online test – I was waiting for the oven to preheat. I took a whole bunch of the tests on this site – Playbuzz – the link takes you to a test, and each test has links to other tests, you could just keep going and going. As I took one test after another I soon lost (track of time) interest in the tests themselves and their results and became fascinated by the comments. Me too! – seemed to be a popular means of communication between commentors and… it just made the results of the results more intriguing than anything else.

I shared this result because it argued with another result I got which I didn’t bother screenshotting as it told a truth I’d rather it hadn’t… and this is just a silly online time-wasting test, right? The other result said that my subconscious was concerned about what others thought of me… aren’t we all even though we’d like not to be? Isn’t it a part of being human? And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative issue… with us ending up labeled as narcissists, egotists, selfish, or a liar of pretty little white lies or ugly big dark devastation)

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We may be a bit on the alert about others at all times,

perhaps because we weren’t always that way and learned a lesson which hurt about that,

primal instinct still ticks away even if our clock is living in modern civilised no need to run from dinosaurs times,

slightly paranoid that they may be lying to us,

does grandma have big teeth because she wants to eat us?

ready to be outraged if we catch someone out in a lie,

exposing their fibs and confabulations,

that boy is crying wolf… for the last time!

our self-righteous mode itching to be turned up to 11,

preparing suitable punishments to let them know that we do not put up with lying liars,

Pinocchio!

our index finger poised on a trigger to shoot down those who trespass over a boundary…

a boundary which we may tell ourselves that we would never cross,

and yet…

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Awkward Yeti - heart versus brain

(by The Awkward Yeti)

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We’re always looking for ways to cross lines,

to trespass… but, of course, we’re doing it for the right reasons rather for wrong ones, aren’t we?

We want to know what others are up to to make sure they’re not using us to get up to it…

we want to invade their space so they don’t invade ours,

and wreck it, turning tidy into chaos…

or something like that.

If you research online how to detect the tell-tale signs of a tall tale told,

you will find countless tips and tricks on how to spot a liar,

it’s in the eyes,

the tone of voice,

the gestures and mannerisms,

the devil is in the detail of the micro-expression…

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Lie to Me - Tim Roth

(One of the tests I took showed you faces and asked you what the person is feeling based on their expression to gauge your people-reading skills. The one thing which nagged at me all the way through was the impression that the answers I was giving were not genuine – the pictures were of people who had been asked to make those expressions, therefore those expressions were not genuine, and my answers had to reflect that if I wanted to get a good score – which I did because I’m a competitive ass. The test creator had already decided what those expressions meant, and basically you had to guess what they’d decided those expression meant rather than share your opinion -such as, all these expressions are faked emotions based on psychological analysis of micro-expressions, or these are pictures pulled from the internet which suit the test-maker’s bias. The whole exercise felt like a rather complex intellectual lie)

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but few of the articles which you find online claiming to reveal the secrets of reading people,

which say they can help you to find the snake in the grass,

spot the flaw in others,

advise you to use yourself as a template,

probably because we wouldn’t like it if they did and we’d immediately reject their advice,

and them,

who do they think they are holding up a mirror to us!

on the basis that they’ve told us a truth that we don’t want to hear.

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Truth_or_Lie by Bennett

(by Clay Bennett)

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Someone who writes a – 5 Ways to Identify a Narcissist – post isn’t going to list – use your own narcissistic tendencies – as a way to do that,

probably because they don’t want to deal with the backlash which would come with doing that,

they’re polite for primal instinct reasons,

and maybe because they care about those who read their writing…

and know that most people who look for information about narcissists are usually doing so because they’ve had an unpleasant experience with one,

(those who have never had the displeasure of being in a relationship with a narcissist don’t tend to read these kind of articles because they’re often not aware of or interested in these kind of people… unless they’re writing a novel or screenplay and need to include this trope)

they’re upset, angry, afraid, confused, in pain,

their reality has been shaken to the core,

a dream has been shattered into sharp shards that penetrate skin drawing blood,

creating wounds which keep on bleeding long afterwards,

and they’re looking for solace, reassurance, support, help in protecting themselves,

the last thing they want is to be prodded and poked,

they’ve had more of that from the narcissist in their life than they ever want to have again.

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psychopathfree - red flag

(if you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist chances are your narcissist has accused you of being the narcissist, especially nowadays when ‘You’re a narcissist!’ is a popular accusation due to the trending hot topic that narcissism has become. Narcissists like to keep up with what is ‘In’. They have access to and use the same things we have access to and use to guide them as they guide us… only it’s slightly different.

If someone in your life claims to be surrounded by narcissists, particularly if they say that those narcissists are all ‘malignant’ (just knowing an ordinary narcissist isn’t good enough anymore)… and you’re only a hair’s breath away from being accused of being one too depending on how you ‘support’ their view or not… look for the common denominator, the axis around which that opinion of others revolves as statistically according to psychologists being surrounded by ‘malignant’ narcissists is considered rare… and therefore makes that person who is rather ‘special’, a one-of-a-kind exception.

It does happen but not often.

The concept that narcissists actually exist has made people rather skittish about others, causing them (us) to perhaps see narcissists in normal behaviour… but most of us give others the benefit of the doubt and are usually glad we did, we realise that we can all be shitty sometimes because sometimes we feel shitty due to going through shit – as others do too.

Being egocentric does not make us or others a narcissist)

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There’s a lot of talk about empathy,

especially about how being empathic gets you into trouble with liars and narcissists,

as though empathy is some kind of weakness, a chink in your armor, a broken latch on the gate of your fortress which leaves it wide open for anyone to walk in and taken advantage of you.

Some people say that being empathic is an attractive trait which causes liars and narcissists to make a beeline for you,

it’s a target not just on your back, but all over you,

you’re too kind, caring, nice, thoughtful, sensitive, and many other wonderful things to be which suddenly aren’t so wonderful,

you’re the most beautiful flower in a field and all the bad bees want your delicious nectar,

all the greedy grabby hands want to pluck you and pull your petals off one by one to find out whether you love them or not…

to discover whether they are lovable (apparently pulling the petals off of a flower isn’t proof enough for them).

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Stephen King - innocence

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I can see where they’re coming from because I’ve come from that direction too.

Somewhere along your path of life you discovered the kind of conundrum which made the world turn topsy turvy… you got caught in a wave which pulled you under, spun you around and now you don’t know which way is up, what is right or wrong, and where to go to not drown.

Being attractive seemed so attractive until it attracted someone who made you wish you were not attractive in that kind of way, and because of them… all you see is them, and you through how you see them looking at you, how you think they see you… and you can’t see that view from any other view.

What narcissists and liars may find attractive about you may also be what people who aren’t narcissists and liars find attractive about you… but your focus is not on those who are not going to take advantage of you.

Twitter taught me that people tend to notice those who unfollow them more than those who are still following them, they pay attention to those who troll them, @ them with criticisms, more than those who @ them with compliments or who silently love them from the afar of a gently scrolling feed.

The negative knows how to attract our attention more than the positive,

a lie gets us to look at it more closely than a truth,

and yet we’re always claiming otherwise…

are we lying to ourselves?

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12 lies we tell ourselves by A. Ellis

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Being empathic is not what attracted your narcissist to you,

being trusting is not what attracted the liar…

it may be a part of what they found attractive about you,

but it’s not the part that is broken and needs fixing,

it’s not about what’s ‘wrong’ with you,

what attracted them is what attracts those who aren’t liars and narcissists too,

it about what is ‘right’ with you,

you’re you.

And if you have empathy…

Empathy is actually one of the best tools you will ever have for figuring out if someone is a narcissist or liar,

(yes, I know all narcissists are also liars, but not all liars are narcissists)

but to use empathy that way you have to understand how it works,

which is simple to do as you do it all the time so you just have to observe yourself doing it,

and learn from yourself.

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rudolf steiner - know yourself:the world

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What is empathy?

It’s the ability to understand

how someone else is feeling,

what someone else may be thinking,

how someone else may be experiencing life, people, pain, joy, a situation,

how someone else may be seeing things, others, you,

based on your own experience, feeling, thinking, view…

If someone tells you that they’ve just sliced their finger on a piece of paper, chances are you’ve had a papercut and you know how much that hurts,

you’re not going to look at them as though they’re crazy to be making such a fuss about something so small, you’re not going to dismiss their pain as trivial, and be all condescending, insensitive and give them shit for being a pussy

(unless when they tell you about their papercut you happen to have just severed your leg and are bleeding out from an artery… and even then you might take a few seconds out to acknowledge their pain – man, that can hurt more than a severed leg! – hoping that they might do the same for you and perhaps help you with your problem…).

You know their pain because it has been your pain too.

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high heels

(image via medical videos)

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Why do we sometimes think that people find us boring,

perhaps when we’re telling them a long story about something that happened to us (and showing them pics of our dinner as part of our show and tell)?

Most likely because the expression on their face is one we recognise as we’ve done it too,

and when have we done it?

Perhaps when someone has been boring us with a long story about something that they did (and showing us the umpteenth blurry and slightly green pic of the pizza they ate last night).

That’s empathy, only it’s not the kind of thing we usually consider to be empathy because empathy is supposed to be too nice for its own good, and in this case it’s being rather bad, making us feel boring when we want to feel interesting.

Maybe we’re projecting… that’s not a part of empathy, is it?

If we ask that person who we are certain is bored by us if we’re boring them…

Do you think they’ll tell us the truth or lie to us?

And would we know the difference between a lie and a truth in that instance, as we’ve already decided for them what they’re feeling, thinking, and now there is a bit of a conflict of interest going on between sides of ourselves.

This is something which also comes into play when we get all pissy-righteous about someone lying to us.

Why does it annoy us so much when we find out that someone has lied to us?

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lies:truth - intelligence ?

(could it be because of this…?)

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Quite a few of the lies which others tell us and which we don’t realise are lies right away are lies which we would like to be true, and we may dismiss any inkling within us that there is something amiss with the picture presented because we want that picture to be true.

We’re basically aiding and abetting the liar… we’re lying to ourselves to sell their lie to us as a truth, and that… burns!

When we later find out that what we chose to believe as true turns out to have been a lie, and we can no longer ignore the truth that this was a lie…

we are furious with the liar for telling us a lie, and sometimes we feel murderous about it, but we can’t go around killing everyone who lies to us because…

we would have to start with ourselves.

The part of us who believed a lie that we probably suspected was a lie, but we lied to ourselves so we could believe what we wanted to be true…

and we’re so very angry at ourselves,

but it’s easier to take that anger out on someone else as the ripple effect is less complicated that way.

Admitting to ourselves that we played a part in the lie we bought into can feel like a live wire…

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danger

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There’s also that other ripple effect…

if we catch someone out in a lie,

and that lie isn’t just a simple one of telling us we look good when we don’t,

or even the complicated one of telling us they’re fine when they’re not…

but the sort of lie which means we can never believe anything they say ever again,

and everything they’ve ever said has to be reviewed,

worse still,

if we continue to have a relationship with them we’ll have to vet everything they say…

and that’s a mountain of work… is it worth it?

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welcome to sales!

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Awhile ago I was in the company of someone whom I later realised was prone to embellishing the truth until the tree was so covered in shiny baubles and flashing fairy lights that there might not even be a tree under there at all.

They were painting over cracks to hide them from themselves, and needed others to support their lies so that they could live in this perfect world they’d created and were still creating where everything was painted smooth in their favourite colours.

They kept saying with a pained expression that they were probably being too honest for their own good…

but…

well…

I guess one person’s version of reality is about as real as another’s…

depends on…

whether your reality and theirs can live and work together or not,

whether it’s a pleasure or pain for you to build bridges over the holes in their stories,

whether you view what you do for them to be making excuses for them so their tower doesn’t crumble,

and humpty doesn’t fall from his badly built wall, then break and splatter you with his inner gooey mess,

or you’re building castles in the sky, making the dream come true so that you can both live in it happily ever after.

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9 thoughts on “How do you know when you’re lying to yourself?

  1. I have found out that if I lie I actually hurt somewhere deep within. I was brought in an abusive home where lies and the omerta were the rule, never say what is truly going on and never tell the truth about us but I was also supposed never to lie. Madness. Pure madness. The narc was no different, it emphasized that. However his lies were meant for a very specific goal with the supply whereas I learned to listen to mine. And sometimes I just don’t want to get involved in people’s issues and I lie my way out. I use to feel super bad and guilty about it, a lot less now. Some people are just trouble and avoiding them is the best way to look after myself. Honestly, sometimes I can’t find a way to tell things nicely and I lie because it seems easier. It is like if I don’t give the real information I am protecting myself from the people I know are just trying to take advantage of me.

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    1. All humans lie, to ourselves, to others, for ourselves, for others. We learn to do it early on in life mostly so as not to get into trouble. Later on we do it to be polite. Most lies are small ones, often for diplomatic reasons, and aren’t designed to do anything other than smooth the rough edges of life a bit. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on what we’re saying, especially to ourselves, and to keep things as simple and honest as possible, but it’s not always possible to be as honest or as simple as it would be nice to be.

      Then there are those lies which create giant knots which become impossible to untie without unraveling a reality – those are most often encountered when dealing with a narcissist.

      Like you I grew up in a family of lies told to maintain a facade and hide what was going on behind the scenes. I learned how to believe those lies until they became the truth, because that’s what my family did. It does end up making you so confused that you no longer know what is a lie and what is a truth, who is the mad one, or what is madness and what is not.

      Life is a strange puzzle πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting and made me think a lot, as I woke up here a little while ago.. πŸ™‚ I like to read your posts in the morning, even if that is the worst time, since my brain seems so slow then…

    Anyway, some random thoughts I had when reading this: When I was involved with a narcissist, I had a hard time telling what was true or not… Everything seemed to be mixed together, or like, I was in a fog and couldn’t find my way out. I have never experienced anything like that before. I doubted my own voice and thoughts all the time..

    after I was out of the narcissistic relationship, I can see that I helped in a way, to uphold the lies, by staying, by not running out of the fog…. I have been so angry at myself for that, for not running towards light, truth and clarity. But I have also empathy and compassion for that version of me, she did the best she could, at the time… I do have some empathy and compassion for the narcissist too, I sense strongly that he is such a broken person that he does not even know what “truth” is anymore… to lie is his “default setting” and he believes so strongly in all his lies that to him, they are the truth (Even when confronted with physical evidence which points to something else entirely, being the truth). I feel sorry for him, that he will never know what it is, to create a bond built with honesty and trust…

    Nowadays my head is much more clear. But still, there are areas in my life where I deceive myself, sometimes. But I aim for living an authentic life, as much as I can…. maybe no one can, completely, I don’t know…. ?

    Thank you for this post, it stirred many important thoughts. And oh, I hope you do not hate that I gave you a blog award nomination… I wrote about it in a comment on your previous post. It is voluntary to accept it, of course. I just wanted to reach out and say something about your wonderful blog. Take care. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you πŸ™‚

      That’s an excellent observation about being with a narcissist, it definitely becomes impossible to know what is true and what is not, what is real and what is fantasy, and it creeps up on you over time so it’s not immediately obvious and by the time it dawns on you that things are not what they seem you’re lost in a thick fog and finding your way out is a stumbling around in the dark.

      There are a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings to deal with when it comes to a relationship with a narcissist. It takes time to sort through them and find a place where there’s a balance between loving and hating them and the experience you had with them, and yourself for your part in it. The latter is probably the hardest area to find clarity because it requires for us to be gentle with ourselves in a way we may not feel like being.

      Just as it can be easier to direct our anger towards others, it can also be easier to be gentle, compassionate and understanding towards others than we are towards ourselves.

      Not all self-deception is problematic, sometimes it can be helpful. We all need a bit of make believe in life. And an authentic life may include allowing ourselves to deceive ourselves sometimes because it’s part of the dreamer within who can make some dreams come true simply by believing in them.

      I saw a really nice film last night, actually two, which kind of showed that. One was Man Up (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3064298/) and the other was The Right Kind of Wrong (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2286990/). They’re both about the ups and downs of relationships, with others and with ourselves, and the reality and fantasy of them. I think I’m mentioning them because of your posts about dating, I really like your musings on that, the way you’re self-reflecting upon all the things which rise up from taking a chance again after a deep heartbreak.

      Thank you for the nomination (you’ve seen my reply to that πŸ˜‰ )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wise words, as usual! πŸ™‚ Yes, the key word is balance I believe… I jump around between anger, sadness, indifference, a glimmer of hope and healing, etc.. but I have a feeling that it will get better and better.. especially with No Contact, my head gets more clear… πŸ™‚

        Oh, I love that you mentioned these movies! I needed some new names of movies to see, it is such a cold winter outside right now, so I can not go outside except to get to work… πŸ™‚ Thank you!!

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          1. I love that! I feel I have had very similar thoughts lately… But in a less refined way… to hell with it, whatever happens, happens, …. sort of… haha! πŸ™‚ Quote was great though, I love reading quotes, it gives me hope.. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I do it all the time. Minimizing, rationalizing, spinning, inflating. I’ve gotten better at recognizing what I’m doing/saying and thinking about why I did/said it, but sometimes I don’t notice it until, well, until I do. Which makes me wonder how much of it escapes my notice … which makes me feel like an prevaricating idiot.

    Great post, Ursula. πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. Thank you πŸ™‚

      One of the regular questions which I ask myself is – Are you lying? – not always in those words, sometimes it’s more of an – Are you sure about this?

      I started being aware of my tendency to alter the truth when I realised just how much I lied to myself on behalf of my parents and had to keep lying because once you start it’s hard to stop as you’re building a domino reality and if one tile falls over…

      Sometimes I catch myself making excuses for others, and then having to make excuses for myself for doing that. It’s really quite difficult to keep things simple and to know what the truth actually is, especially as there can be many different truths which could all be true depending on how you look at someone or something.

      Sometimes you just have to pick something and go with it otherwise you end up dithering and dithering… which is a wobbly hobby (and one I’m really good at) πŸ˜‰

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