I Can't Stop Lying. Do I Need Help?
Everybody does it.
That’s often what we tell ourselves when we lie. And there’s certainly truth to that. On any given day, you’re lied to anywhere from 10-200 times. On average, people lie in one out of five interactions.
But that doesn’t make it right. Especially as Christians. After all, the Bible says:
“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices”
And that’s one of many verses.
So what do we do when our lying becomes something out of our control. First, we need to admit we have a problem. People who lie in excess are usually referred to as either compulsive or pathological liars.
Those sound scary and even judgmental. Their purpose, however, is not to condemn, but to identify an issue.
What makes someone a compulsive or pathological liar?
Though the terms are often used interchangeably, many professionals separate the two into distinct categories. A compulsive liar continues to lie even when there’s no direct benefit for them. It becomes almost like an instinctual reaction to them.
Meanwhile, a pathological liar tells falsehoods with the motive of gaining power and/or furthering their own agenda. Often, they manipulate the truth, keeping just enough of the facts to sell their lies.
Why do we lie?
The reasons, excuses, and justifications for everyday lying are infinite. We do it to sound smart, to protect people from a painful truth, to avoid embarrassment, to turn people against each other, etc.
But for those who struggle with pathological or compulsive lying, the underlying reasons can be much more difficult to pinpoint. There may be a deeper psychological issue such as bipolar disorder or a number of personality disorders.
It could stem from past family trauma or even substance abuse.
Interestingly, studies have shown that the brains of compulsive and pathological liars tend to have more white matter in their prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for decision making and behavior.
Conversely, those who have a harder time lying have more grey matter in this area of the brain. While that doesn’t necessarily explain the root of the problem, it does show that the issue goes deeper than you might think.
Lying is a serious problem.
Lying may provide an immediate boost in power, reputation, and public image, but these gains come at a significant cost. Continuous lying makes it impossible to form close and intimate relationships. A true relationship requires trust and honesty.
Additionally, lies require additional effort to maintain. This can prove exhausting and mentally strenuous, mounting constant pressure on the person telling the lies.
Continued lying can lead to anxiety, paranoia, severe loneliness, and hopelessness.
Do I Need Professional Help?
If you’re struggling with lying, it’s important that you talk to someone, especially if it’s affecting your friendships, your work, and/or your goals. You’ll be surprised by the relief that comes with telling the truth, even if it’s to one person.
To truly break the cycle of lies, however, you may need professional help.
Even if you don’t think you’re a compulsive or pathological liar, a counselor can help determine why you’re struggling to tell the truth, and how you can effectively put an end to the cycle of lying. Many find it easier to be honest with a counselor since they’re removed from your personal circles, providing a trustworthy environment.
Remember, the truth might not be easy to tell, but at the end of the day, it will always cost you less than lying does. Take a step today. Find a Christian counselor that’s right for you on Torrch.