Where do people learn to lie? The Casey Anthony trial brought this issue to light in a blinding and overwhelming way. Lying is a learned behavior and often develops from childhood experiences. Certainly parental modeling can contribute to the development of this trait and many families reinforce that maintaining a positive facade is more important than revealing an unpleasant secret. With the lies come negative feelings that are discouraged, discounted, devalued and then buried. The expectation becomes “put on a happy face and pretend that everything is good”. Over time this becomes an addiction that gathers momentum and power and eventually becomes a way of life. For many pathological liars, lying is a coping and survival skill. Acknowledging the truth means confronting the pain and accepting the dysfunction in their lives. Lying is a way of avoiding, denying, detaching and disengaging from the problems. Can people change and learn to be truthful? Absolutely people can change, if they take personal responsibility for their actions and are committed to living a different life. One of my favorite quotes is: “The mind like a parachute functions only when open.” Some people are reinforced for lying and have very little desire or motivation to change. Lying keeps them stuck in a life that is filled with turmoil, conflict, and chaos. How does a person go about changing these behaviors? Next week I will discuss specific ways to modify both thoughts and actions that can result in a life of authenticity and transparency.
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