October 10, 2009 Chris Cox

Lie With Me

Come my friends and lie with me as I think and type some more.

The times when I have exposed myself the most seem to be in bed, which is a sentence that works on both levels of the word exposed, how lucky for us all, a little joke right at the start. There’s something about lying down, those minutes before sleep or the moments after slumber where we can be open and honest, where we take off the mask we wear during the day and simply are who we are. You are you, I am me, it’s in those moments where I find the words in my heart and mind, or, with the right person open myself up and blurt out moments of the real me. Sometimes I regret what I say, sometimes I’m happy I said it, but on the whole I’ve found it’s those times when I’ve really felt like the real me, without over analysing and without too much thought, I have really said what I think and feel…well that or spoke some nonsensical rubbish before falling fast fast asleep.

Lying is the most human of traits, be it for snoozing or simply to protect someone’s feelings. See what I’ve done there. Yes, I’ve done exactly what I did with the word exposed. I’ve managed to cleverly use both meanings of one word… clever little bunny aren’t I? I found in my younger years I was quite the liar, not in a huge way, but would use, like many others little white lies to my advantage, perhaps to increase my status, to make me seem interesting, to make me more attractive. I’m not sure why, I’d like to think it’s because I wasn’t comfortable with who I was, or sure of myself, or that I feared I was insignificant so had to over elaborate.

I’ve noticed how little I lie these days, and like to think that it is because I’m more comfortable with who I am. I recently was in a situation where I was more open and honest then I have ever been, where I truly said what I thought and never told a lie. I was proud of myself, I liked this, I felt it gave a level of trust and respect that I had never found before.

I’d like to think it was all my doing, that I suddenly didn’t feel the need to lie, but in an attempt to be honest throughout this blog, I know it wasn’t all me, well not all of it at least. It’s a situation which is as thrilling as it is difficult, as incredible as it is painful, because you are open, honest, and absolutely you. We spend our lives developing guards, wearing masks, creating personas to hide behind, and when you can cast them off it is a hugely liberating moment, despite being horrifically scary. We show our true colours, which makes us worry, what if we are not liked?

You open yourself up to be shot down but for those moments you are truly you, when you are not lying, when you are 100% the person you are at that moment in time you feel alive and feel what life is about…it’s worth getting shot, just for that experience, that rush of blood to the head, that punch to the soul of this is me, like it or lump it, this is what I feel, I am a person, I am alive, I am Chris (feel free to insert your own name here if you’re not called Chris, if you are called Chris, what a fortunate coincidence.)

Now I’m writing this not because I’ve been lied to, or as a response to anything in particular, it’s because l part of my act involves me having to work out when people are lying. I’m not that bad at it, short sentences, fluffing, eye contact (or lack of it), fidgeting and long pauses before answering are the easiest things to spot to locate a liar, however there’s no exact science to it, and I can’t really do it. Yes on stage I can make you think I can, but if I really could, I certainly wouldn’t be telling everyone that I could. A study has show that,

‘Most of us think we are about 15 per cent cleverer, nicer, more attractive and better drivers than others think we are. It seems deception begins at home. After all the most convincing liars convince themselves first.’

The more you convince yourself, the more something that is only in your head can seem to you like the truth. Deception is woven into the texture of human life so it’s hard to spot, sometimes you can spot a lie through gut feeling, other times it’s a lucky guess, but the more interesting thing is, why is someone lying in the first place, what’s the psychological desire to lie, and what can it tell us about that person. How they react upon being caught out is a great indicator, do they lie more to qualify the lie, do they hold up their hands and admit defeat or do they simply change the subject and attempt to run away, that response can show someone’s true character.

Ricky Gervais’ new film The Invention Of Lying brings up some good questions about when it’s right to lie, when it’s nice to lie and when it’s almost vital. There’s a point in the film where Mark (Ricky’s character) could lie to the girl of his dreams to get what he desires. I won’t tell you what happens, but when it does you know there’s about 25 mins left in the film, so you can kinda work it out from there. I’m just pondering as to whether this is a spoiler. I don’t think it is, I don’t think it’s inherent to your enjoyment of the film.

Basically it shows you can’t win something through deception, but of course, in real life, you can. In real life people will lie to get what they want, they will deceive, they will be ruthless. I kind of admire these people, I wish I could do that, but at the heart of it, I like to think of myself as an honest person, and a nice guy (a topic I’ll be writing about sometime soon.) Should we lie to get what we want? Is it just another one of the traits of a human being? Should we tell people what they want to hear, rather than what is true?

Of course, it’s situation dependent, there is no right or wrong, no fact or fiction. What do we want? Someone who is honest, or someone who lies? Obviously the former, but it’s never that clear cut. Of course it’s not just about people getting what they want, we lie to protect our families and friends, we tell them what they want to hear, you can start to lie so much that a lie no longer feels like a lie, you can start to believe what comes out of your mouth. You are never truly the person you are if you constantly lie, you can never be trusted and you can never find yourself. Sure you can feel better about things, you can lie to yourself to make the lie okay, but it’s others that you eventually end up hurting.

Who does lying really help or protect? Is it you, is it me, is it the people round us? Can we read a script we’ve prepared in our heads to hide the truth, to distort the facts, to say what people want to hear? There is no answer, for anyone who says they are completely honest…. well that’s just a lie.

Comments (2)

  1. Elizabeth

    Trying to be honest is best for most things, as lies can get messy, remembering to keep up the lie, especially if you use multiple lies to different people. This blog has made me feel much better about myself, although I don’t think I’m better than other people, the opposite really. There are some cases where lying is ok, especially if it’s small and protecting someones feelings. You are a lovely person and very interesting 🙂

  2. Nic

    Hi Chris,
    Yet another wonderfully reflective blog. I think there is a difference between lying in your personal life and in your career. I’m not saying that some people tell the truth ALL the time, they don’t we do lie to protect other’s feelings. But I found that working on an acute mental health ward I was lying a lot, this is not a bad thing (in my opinion). A patient wants to hear they will feel better soon, they are a nice person, that they can achieve goals, basically that things will be OK. The truth is I never knew, I only hoped. I found that after a few years of using these phrases/tactics they didn’t feel truthful to me anymore, I had failed to lie to myself or effectively to others, this was my point of burnout in acute wards, so I moved to another area, where I can be more honest, where patients were not as ill an could come to their own conclusions. It has taught me that I would rather be honest where I can, lies can wear people out, sooner or later, yet the are necessary.

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