Lying as Violence – How Your Lies Create Separations

By Dr. Keith Witt
January 6, 2014

argument_couple People lie all the time.

Check out these stats from Little White Lies – The Truth About Why Women Lie:
  • 12 % of adults admit telling lies.
  • 80% of women admit occasionally telling harmless half-truths.
  • 31% of people admit to lying on their resumes.
  • Men tell an average of six lies a day to their partner, boss, or colleagues.
  • 60% of people lie at least once during a 10-minute conversation.
  • 40% of patients lie about following a doctor’s treatment plan.
Most of these lies are of course relatively harmless, but there is a particular dark side of lying. M. Scot Peck, the famous author of The Road Less Traveled, also wrote The People of the Lie, where he maintained that evil (yes, “evil”) resided in lies, and made a strong case for the evolution of absolute truth in service of goodness as an optimal direction for human kind. All this being said, my opinion is that violence is the source of most of the world’s problems, and that lies are generally forms of violence. For instance:
  • “No! I didn’t cheat on you! How can you ask that?” As you say to yourself, “There’s no way she’s going to find out about the hooker in Atlanta.”
  • “I’m not mad. I’m disappointed.” When you’re so angry you’re shaking.
  •  “I’d love to lend you the money, but I just don’t have it.” Thinking, “He never paid me back the money I lent him for his truck, so screw him!”
  • “I figure it would be better for everyone if I was dead!” You’re completely blanking out on all the suffering it would cause everyone you know if you killed yourself.
All these lies separate people, and separations from people tend to create problems, just as honest, loving connections create goodness and health. Even worse, when you normalize lying to others, you tend to normalize lying to yourself, and we all know the dangers of that!

Lying also lowers self-esteem, because we observe ourselves doing emotional violence.

This compromises our sense of integrity, that warm internal confidence of, “I live my principles.” Of course the truths in the examples I used are also potentially dangerous, but in a different way. They can put relationships on the line, evoke corresponding condemnation or desertion, and cost you time, money, and trust–even your marriage. Though 70% of people who discover their partner cheating decide to work on their marriage, 30% leave. In the suicide example, we see how pain makes us egocentric and entitled to crazy beliefs and actions–emotional/physical/spiritual pain can inflame violent impulses–and truly facing these distortions initiates a long journey through darkness into life feeling worth living again. Once you consciously prefer lies to truths, you’re on a slippery slope to being an instrument of violence in the world, and violence of thought, behavior, neglect, and action is the human problem. Most people hungry for the deepest truths about themselves and others are open to new input and loving influence. Seeking understandings validated by science, self-reflection, shared intimacy, or social research (which, not coincidentally, cover the four quadrants of Integral theory which go a long way towards deepest understanding) tends to provide the clearest views, the best relationships, and optimal life directions. Such clarity requires dedication to truth as we know it. Yes, there can be exceptions that protect people’s feelings and self-esteem, but they’re rarer than most of us think. Learn More about Lying As Violence in these Integral Conversations: • Lying as Violence – an Integral Conversation with Patricia Albere [AUDIO] • Lying As Violence and Truth As A Practice, An Integral Conversation with Jeff Salzman [AUDIO]

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