I am 29 years old and I have recently come to realize that I lie just because I can. I have done some research and I believe myself to be a habitual liar. My question is, what are some things that can help me to not lie anymore? I find myself lying more than I tell the truth and sometimes it is because of attention but other times it just happens before I realize it. Lying should not be this natural and I need help in finding ways to control this problem. Thinking back, I have been doing this almost all my life and not many people ever realized that I was lying to them. Please help me because I do not want my children to pick up this habit from me.
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Believe it or not, you are not alone in telling lies. Studies show that most people lie and they do so more often than you might think.
The real question is, why do people lie? The reasons are many and varied.
Sometimes people lie to protect loved ones from getting hurt, as for example as when secrets are kept for fear that the truth will cause too much pain. Some people feel a need to exaggerate the truth in order to impress others. Very often this type of lie is rooted in low self esteem. It is not unusual for young men and women to lie to one another when they begin dating. The motivating factor may be the fear of rejection if the other knew the truth.
It is not unusual for people to lie about themselves so much that they convince themselves that they are telling the truth. Self deception is as real a part of lying as misleading others. Of course, there is the lie that is told for fear of getting into trouble. This is they type of lie told by criminals. In the area of criminality, there is the lie designed to cheat others out of their money.
People rationalize their lies. Honest and decent citizens cheat on their income taxes but deny they are doing so. They reason that the government has enough money so why should they have to give more? Or they rationalize that the rich get away with not paying taxes then, why shouldn’t they?
Therapists are Standing By to Treat Your Depression, Anxiety or Other Mental Health Needs
Lies are accompanied by consequences because, sooner or later, people are caught in their lies and that can result in a loss of trust from loved ones and friends. At work it can result in being fired.
My suggestion for you is that you enter psychotherapy in order for you to learn why you lie. If your self esteem is the motivating factor behind your telling untruths then, simply trying to stop will not work. Instead, the challenge of psychotherapy will be to build your feelings of self worth.
It is a good thing that you are worried about telling lies and that you want to change it. It demonstrates that you are aware of this, are not comfortable with it and want to be a better person. Just remember that you, like everyone else, will not be perfect. Even Honest Abe Lincoln lied.
Best of Luck