Our lies always protect someone.
But who is this? Sometimes, it’s ourselves. A lot of the times, it’s other people. And how often have we realized only too late that we protected the wrong people? Because those who truly love us should be able to accept and withstand whatever hell our truths may unlock.
I have been both the recipient and giver of such lies, so I understand the excruciating pain and paralyzing fears on both sides. For a long time, I chose to lie to circumvent both dealing with pain and affecting it onto others. It’s easy for us to choose the path of least conflict, but it’s difficult to accept or reconcile what deception leaves us with.
No one can grow or evolve without nourishment, and lies may offer temporary comfort, but nourish us, they do not. Conversely, lies both feed into and result from deprivation. It’s worth challenging ourselves to take a closer look at who it is we are protecting, and for what reason we are withholding our truths. What is stopping us from being our most vulnerable selves?
Our lies indicate that we are still living in fear, that we don’t feel safe enough to speak our truths.
It takes real courage, strength, and bravery to be honest, and common social dynamics simply aren’t set up to offer us this safe space we need. In the absence of safety, when we don’t default to lies, we default to silence, both of which keep us injured and endangered. Because fear and silence are the easiest ways to live, and we are all more cowardly than we wish we weren’t.
We can accept that there is truth in fiction, and often more in fiction than in real life, so why can’t we have some degree of compassion in treating the lies we tell? In Meisner class, we are taught that “theatre is a safe place to do the things that are unsafe to do in real life.” Most of theatre’s content comes from real life problems, the satisfaction is that these problems actually get resolved on stage. How fascinating to think that during the brief hour or two, fundamental questions get answered—the same questions and problems most of us carry for years, if not decades.
Yet, after the show is over, how many of us decide to live courageously? Sadly, not even the actors themselves who fooled us all. I speak from experience.
In the modern age of chaos and anxiety, the only certainty is that we have all become better liars. We stray further away from happiness as we perpetuate the very misinformation we fight, and distract ourselves with fiction that gives us temporary escape and comfort.
We never truly resolve the fundamental questions that plague us, leading to common deathbed regrets, as well as what we perceive to be unmentionable failings and secrets that are strangely commonplace.
There is a crowd of self-help books pushing us to figure out our truths and dreams, but perhaps the way to the answers we seek are within the lies we tell, in the darkness of shame. What if we explored the very common lies we tell through a lens of compassion as opposed to the common disgrace and punitive default? The above all offer points of entry to this.
Fellini once said that a different language presents a different vision of the world. Our lies are a synthesized language of behavior and words, and ultimately act as a vessel to give us access to the person we wish we were, or the circumstances we wish we had. By looking at the world through the language of our lies, we are highlighting our blind spots.
The retelling of our lies strengthens only the mythology of our imagined realities, and the mirage in the desert, leaving us thirstier than ever before. Only by recognizing the functions of our lies, are we able to assess what we are missing in real life, so we can replace our lies with content that is nourishing instead of depriving.
To know ourselves is to know our lies. What we cannot talk about will always have power over us. While truths are not the opposite of lies, a rich life is the opposite of a life of depravity, the latter of which is the only destination our lies are ever able to afford.