Lying acts like a protective mechanism to help us get along without confrontation. That is, if you’re not open enough to communicate the truth. Examples of what’s known as a white lie is illustrated in the scenarios below:
Your friend asks you if her butt looks big in the new dress she’s wearing. You don’t want to hurt her feelings. You say no. That it fits so well on her. Thinking to yourself, maybe a little too well. Just a white lie, right.
At the office scene, where the new attractive secretary comes over and thinks you’re so cute. She spontaneously plants a kiss right on your lips. Upon coming home, your wife asks you why you smell like perfume. You tell her that one of the guys had brought a few perfume samples to the office. He was asking for opinions on which one to purchase for his wife. So he was spraying the samples around to get opinions on the best scent. Another white lie?
Lying could become anything but white by crossing the line with rounding up on billable hours to clients, elevated dollar amounts for claims made on insurance policies, recommending unnecessary treatments to patients, etc. If you associate with individuals that don’t tell the truth, you will be drawn into their lying fold.
So with lying, if you allow yourself to keep letting it happen, your brain will require more outrageous rationalizations so you will still be able to sleep at night. Upon arising in the morning, you look at yourself in the mirror and have no remorse about the previous day’s illicit behaviors. In fact, those lies will be eventually made into a false truth by your brain. It helps to ensure mental stability.
Remember Enron and Countrywide Credit. All their associates and investors lost everything due to the companies lying about their financial stability. All the investment firms and banks during the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. It was an attitude of greed, selfishness and lies. This deceit was the foundation of scandal that has brought down America’s financial picture till this very day. This lying had become endemic throughout the entire financial system. Selling packaged mortgages for high rates of return based on garbage investments. They were ultimately doomed to fail. And when they did, almost everyone lost everything. That would include jobs, financial security and economic stability.
Think about this example of behavior from a dad to son. The father picks the child up from school. The teacher tells the father that his son had been stealing school supplies from other students. On the way home, the father comes down hard on his boy. Telling him that after he completes his homework, he is grounded for a week. He said, “Why take things from your classmates when I have told you repeatedly that I can get you all the school supplies you need from work.” Interesting how the dad can whitewash his own theft as doing something good for his son.
Lying ranges from the usually innocuous to pathological liars. Take the lying of politicians. Specifically, today’s candidates for the future president of the United States. Why does media have to fact check? My thoughts are they are looking for the rare chance that something spoken was truthful. So how can we ever believe these candidates when one gets elected as our president? We can’t, but we will need to rationalize that we can, to ensure our own mental stability. If we voted for one of the two, we need to give the brain a reason for why we committed to making a decision based on lies.
If you continue to repeat a lie, it gets embedded in long-term memory. Not only will the liar believe his own lies as the truth, but so will the listeners. The common example that I have written about previous is the reporter, Brian Williams. He believed his own fabrications of the story pertaining to his helicopter getting shot down by enemy forces. Ultimately, he was fact checked by his competitors. This forced his network to take him of the air. If he wasn’t fact checked, Mr. Williams would have kept repeating those erroneous stories and all that listened would be true believers of all those “facts”. Why would we believe otherwise? He was a trusted anchor source of news on a major network for many years.
Significant lying may came down to the color and amounts of cranial stuffing. They are referred to as grey and white substances in our brains.
Pathological liars had on average 14% less grey matter (brain cells) and about 24% more white (brain connections) matter. Liars are more likely to remember those lies easier because of their higher amounts of connections between nerve cells. They can keep those conjured up associations linked, through all those extra connections in long-term memory. They can make up more elaborate lies and put them in long-term memory as the truth. Ultimately, they will believe this information to be the “truth.”
So with all this lying comes the ultimate conundrum. Humans need to view ourselves as being honest. The problem comes when we want the benefits of being dishonest. So the missing piece is rationalization. How can we make up something, then be fine about how dishonest we were in a situation? The difference is that some individuals can stretch the rationalization much further than others. Higher individual creativity brings with it a higher risk of pulling that rubber band of rationality as far as it can go without breaking. In fact, pathological liars will break that band before it gets a chance to recoil back.
On the whole, most individuals are honest. There are millions of interactions daily where the person does the right thing. So the majority of us have a moral fiber that runs deep in the core of our very being. But we most be vigilant to not be drawn into the lies and drama that surround us each every day. It can become a malignancy, if you let it, that can spread rampant throughout society.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner