Everybody lies sometimes. Ed Sheeran, Omid Djalili, the guy who voices C-3PO, they’ve all lied. Even I, a perfect angel, have told a lie in my life. That being said, I’m a laughably bad liar. I can’t look someone in the eye and lie convincingly without getting flustered, or spinning a yarn about being late because a raccoon stole my shoes.
My candour led me to talk about my sex life on the internet and you’re so welcome, Mum. I figured out that strength, power and integrity stem from being honest, which may be why I wrote about cry-wanking and shared it with thousands of people.
But the one person we all lie to with ease is ourselves. We can convince ourselves of just about anything. You’re doing it right now and you don’t even know! You said you were going to the gym every day in January. It’s now the 19th of January and you haven’t been once. But that’s because you forgot the combination for your PureGym padlock and who’s willing to pay five of our Great British Pounds for a new one from one of those vending machines? Nobody is, because it’s a hellish scam.
You’re not going to get Deliveroo this weekend; you’re going to make a meal plan for the week involving chicken, broccoli and quinoa. Then you’re going to lay it out neatly in your fridge in lovely containers. But you’re not, because that shit is boring and nobody wants to see pictures of your food in Tupperware on their Instagram feed.
More worryingly, you also tell yourself meaningful lies which affect the quality of your relationships and stunt your development. So what, I hear you ask. I feel nicely developed as a character already. Plus who needs to grow and change, that sounds tiresome and difficult. As a perfect angel, you should listen to me, Susan.
You know at the beginning of Friends when Rachel is spoiled and bratty with a bad haircut, but by the end of Season 10 she is an independent, caring woman with job offers from Gucci and Ralph Lauren? Ignoring the fact that she GETS OFF THE PLANE to go back to that guy Ross, which makes me want to claw off my skin piece by piece, she has developed as a character by being honest with herself, recognising her flaws and working on them. And I’m here to get you from Season 2 Rachel to Season 10 Rachel, with the wardrobe and side-swept fringe to match.
Until alarmingly recently, I was doing a lot of things because I had wrongly but successfully convinced myself I wanted them. I was making choices because other people wanted those things, so I thought I did too. Or I was taking the easy path, because I was afraid of the consequences of being honest with myself and following my own route. I had managed to lie to myself so convincingly that I truly believed I wanted things which were just distractions, in order to avoid addressing my real feelings. So I choose things which were damaging to me and corrosive to my wellbeing, just to enjoy the short-term gratification.
Self-deception can be extremely problematic in relationships. Too many of us are so afraid of being alone that we convince ourselves we want to be in a relationship with any Tom, Dick or Donald who walks through the door. We discussed this last week in I Want to Be Single. We tell people we love them when we don’t, because we so desperately want it to be true that we ignore our real feelings. We convince ourselves we haven’t cheated, so we don’t have to own up to our mistakes. We then end up hurting others as well as ourselves.
Without honesty, there can be no realistic, enduring love and that’s kinda the whole thing we’re aiming for here. That honesty has to start within. I know those nice little lies you tell yourself help you avoid scary and difficult feelings, but there is freedom in honesty and a better love that comes with it, so let’s just try and drink from the sweet waters of emotional freedom for a minute.
How to be honest with your frightened self:
- What are you waiting for?
You can only start from now. That sounds like a motivational Instagram quote, because it almost certainly is. You can always change and grow because your personality is not fixed for your entire lifetime. We all have the capacity for positive personal growth, even if you’re the worst person on the planet. If you are, thanks for stopping by Piers Morgan, I didn’t know you could read. So start by taking a deep breath and looking at what you truly want, what truly makes you happy and the type of person you want to be. Once you really know your own motivations and desires as distinct from other people, you can start to be honest with yourself and others around you.
- Other people do not define your worth.
I think I’ve written that upwards of six times on this blog. That’s because you’re not listening and I’ll keep saying it until you do. We lie to ourselves because we’re too influenced by what other people might think if we’re honest. We do a disservice to ourselves and our real feelings by just going with the prevailing wind.
It might be easier not to rock the boat and just lie to others about who we are, painting a portrait of ourselves as the good guy who is never wrong and is always happy with his choices. But that is not the route to a contented life, nor will you befriend a single decent human being in the fraudulent process.
If you are honest about your mistakes and own up to being a human with a whole messy set of feelings, anybody with emotional intelligence will understand. Those who reject you do so because your honesty hits too close to the bone of their own shortcomings and fears. If you continue to spin a web of lies where you convince yourself you are always right, you cannot grow and all the decent human beings will very quickly realise who you are, a fraud.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
People say life is short, but those people are mad dumb. Life is the longest thing you can do. So don’t feel you have to lie to yourself to bring gratification in the here and now. Telling yourself that an affair will bring you happiness is the perfect example. You know it won’t. You know it will bring you nothing but misery, travel expenses and suffering, as well as causing untold pain to someone else.
Play the long game. You’re going to have to lie beside yourself every night, so you’re going to have to like the person you are, or else endure a lot of sleepless nights. Living as a fraud is not a comfortable place to be. You aren’t just the person you are right now; you have a whole life ahead with yourself. The decisions you make now can shape that future. So start a dialogue with yourself and work out how to be honest, so you can live an authentic life with strength which grows out of your own vulnerability.
- Being honest allows others to do the same. When we speak from the heart and learn how to be genuine, there’s nowhere to hide anymore. Once you’ve talked about your one-night stands on the internet, you can’t put that shit back in the box. There is total freedom in this honesty and it allows others to do the same. Not necessarily to talk about their sex lives on the internet, but to be free to open up about their emotions, their pain and the whole glorious confusion of being a human.
If you begin to recognise your own thoughts and feelings and express those, your friends around you are free to do the same. The weight lifts and the pressure to perform evaporates. All you’re left with is warmth, sincerity and fun as you all discuss whether it’s ever acceptable to use “cry-wanking” as a verb.
And next week….
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