Do We Prefer Lies?

Why We Live in the Land of Make Believe

I am a great liar. I’ve perfected the art for over 51 years. In fact, I lie to myself so much sometimes I don’t know if I’m telling the truth because I buy my own bullshit. 

Honestly, most people could say the exact same thing about themselves. Because we all lie. Some of us are just more frequent and eloquent at lying than others.

In case you’re not aware, you are lied to dozens of times every day. These falsehoods range from little white lies to deceits big enough to literally destroy lives.

While you might like to think you’re an honest person, statistically speaking, you too are a liar. According to research, the average person lies once to twice per day.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you ever give people compliments that aren’t completely genuine?

  • Have you told someone you were doing well when you actually weren’t?

  • Do you ever tell people you are busy to avoid having to interact with them?

If you said no to any of those questions, you’re a liar. Welcome to the club!

So why do we lie? Psychologically, that’s a long answer meant for a book—not a blog. But I’m going to propose the core reason that will probably make you uncomfortable.

We prefer lies.

Authenticity is messy so we settle for artificial because it’s easier to bury our heads in the sand and live in the Land of Make Believe that it is to hear or tell the truth.

I grew up lying to myself. I wasn’t always happy with the person I was pretending to be, so I made up lies about my life to compensate for my perceived inadequacies.

Maybe you did, too.

That might seem harmless. But it’s not. Because illusions turn into delusions. Before long, we’re living in a fantasy world of our own making bereft of reality.

Many, if not most people, pretend to prevent feeling the pain of being left out, overlooked, discounted. In the end, the lies we tell ourselves only make matters worse.

Lies break down trust and build walls. Can you recall a time you told a lie as a cover? How did you recover? More than likely, you told another lie. To yourself. To others.

Sadly, the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we don’t lie. So we just keep digging a deeper hole until there seems to be no bottom and we’re trapped by our own trickery.

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Twenty years ago, one of my mentors told me, “Tim, you're a very gifted individual. You’re a great vehicle with a powerful engine, but you’ll never get out of the garage.”

If that doesn’t sound like a pep talk to you, that’s ok. I didn’t hear it that way either. But he continued (as good mentors do) by asking a hard question I’ve never forgotten.

“What is your motivation?”

As I reflected on his words, I knew he was right. I was stuck in neutral and going nowhere fast. Not because I didn’t know the answer to his question. But because I did.

My motivation was me trying to prove myself. From a place I barely admit and rarely acknowledge, I knew my mindset was based on feeling like I was less than enough.

(The reason I share openly with you is because I’ve encountered countless people with the same condition. And if I’m not transparent, I can’t help others traverse their own trials.)

In my work, I’ve coached or consulted thousands of people. Without exception, I’ve yet to meet an honest one who hasn’t confessed a lack of confidence in their identity.

If you’re human, you can relate—which means you can empathize. Because you know the pain and confusion that comes from questioning your value or sense of self-worth. 

But why? Why do we buy the lie that we aren’t enough in the first place? After all, we know it’s a lie, right? (Some readers just said yes. Others shrugged their shoulders.)

If you’re a shoulder-shrugger, I’m sorry. Somewhere in your life, you were made to feel like you didn’t measure up. It could have been early in your childhood, but it stuck.

For others, it has been an ongoing struggle. More than likely, someone has reminded you throughout your life that you don’t measure up or matter. And you believed them.

Can I please let you off the hook?

It’s not your fault.

The Power of the Mind

In the allegorical story of creation, we meet a serpent—a mythical creature that cast doubt in the human mind. This character continues to cause confusion. Why?

It’s in our DNA.

Whether you buy into a creation story doesn’t matter. The point is we have two narrators in our head. One is trying to remind you of your value. The other is a villain.

For millennia, humankind has believed the lie that we are broken. No wonder we feel limited. Frustrated. And unfulfilled. Of course we feel like we’re not enough.

When you were born, you were enough. Despite the domestication you received telling you otherwise, you’re still enough. The question is what voice do you believe?

My friend, you’re perfect the way you are right now regardless of the lies you’ve told or believed about yourself. You don’t have to pretend when you live in the present.

As the ancient mystics taught, all is well at this moment. That includes you.

And that’s the truth.

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If you need help with the subject matter of this blog for your personal or professional life, email me to discuss one-on-one consulting options. I will reply personally. —T.

Timothy Eldred is a writer, speaker, and friendly disruptor of the status quo with a mission to end aloneness. He gives leadership and provides strategic support to profit and not-for-profit organizations to develop a sustainable culture of authenticity.