Are You Being Lied To? A Psychotherapist Explains What Honesty & Lies Can Do to Your Mental & Brain Health by Dr. Teralyn Sell
Recently someone said to me, "When your heart is hungry, you eat lies." This really stuck with me in determining the actual meaning and how it applies to many people.
When someone lies to us (positively or negatively) we tend to "eat it up" until we are consumed by it. Once we figure out the perpetuation of lies our brain can actually trigger adrenaline and we are in hypervigilance and fight or flight. We can then turn into detectives uncovering the truth. The problem with this is that it is at our own expense.
We can’t turn off the stress cortisol, we can’t "unsee" our partner as a liar. We can’t stop "digging for the truth" as we see it. When we come out of our fog, we might say, "How could I be so stupid?" But, you weren’t stupid, you were trying to fill your hungry heart. It’s kind of like being really hungry and being offered a cracker. That cracker feels like a full meal, that is until you actually have a steak.
What Do Lies Do to the Brain and Mood When You Know That You Are Being Lied To?
When you are being lied to it creates what is called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when someone’s behavior is not in line with their words. It is confusing to the recipient. To the giver of the lie, the confusion they create may cause them to over-explain, exaggerate or defend themselves to persuade the receiver that this is the truth. In order to restore balance and reduce the dissonance created, the receiver must change their own truth within them.
What Does a Lie Do to the Brain and Mood of the Person Telling the Lie?
Be honest even if it hurts. Most of the time I hear people say that they told a lie to protect the receiver. I’m not entirely sold on that idea. I think most people tell lies to protect themselves. They don’t want to feel like a disappointment to the other person.
My motto is to be honest even if it hurts. The selfish part of lying is that it doesn’t allow your partner to feel their actual emotions of the news. Instead, the person telling the lie ends up muting them. That is until the lie comes forward, which in most cases is frequently. Then the receiver is more likely to be hurt because of the lie, not entirely because of the action. This might compound a trauma response, surging adrenaline (fight or flight) and pushing your stress hormone cortisol in a chronic state. This not only damages a relationship, but it makes it very difficult for the hurt party to find balance and trust again.
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