Research shows that 60% of people lie at least once during a 10-minute conversation, with many of those people averaging 2-3 lies. We all know that deceit can be destructive- it can deteriorate trust and shatter commitments.
But lying isn't always an outward problem. There are many lies people tell themselves, and those narratives can affect everything from your self-esteem to your relationships to your recovery. Let's unpack some of the most common lies.
It's such a standard response that most of us say it automatically. After all, if someone asks how we're doing, do you really need to delve into the full synopsis of your current emotional state?
Withholding vulnerable feelings from others is one thing. But if you continue telling yourself that everything is fine and okay, you're invalidating your own needs. Over time, you risk becoming resentful, anxious, and depressed.
"That Won't Trigger Me"
This lie can feel tricky because it resembles a hopeful truth. You don't want a certain place, person, or event to trigger you- you want to be able to experience it without feeling unraveled.
But successful recovery requires being honest with your patterns. If something triggered you in the past, it's likely to trigger you again. If you know you experience cravings after spending time with a specific person, you should explore that phenomenon before you haphazardly spend time with them again!
"I Can Do This on My Own"
This lie typically emerges from two culprits.
First, it can result after repeated experiences of being let down by others. If this happens, you probably won't want to trust people only to be hurt by them again. It can seem like it's you against the world, and you choose to believe that leaning on others will only cause problems.
Second, it can come from a place of shame. Part of you doesn't feel worthy of receiving support. Rather than express needing help, you may wish to avoid burdening others by keeping your feelings tightly sealed.
This lie can certainly trigger a relapse. People need support and accountability during their recovery process, and deciding to "go at it alone" often results in fear, loneliness, and intensified shame.
"I Don't Really Have A Problem with ____"
Even in long-term recoveries, it's common for people to trade one compulsive habit for another. The woman who was once addicted to heroin might now justify a dangerous eating disorder. The man who once abused meth might laugh at the idea of compulsive gambling being problematic.
Denying other compulsive habits can mimic the same denial associated with your main addiction. The more entrenched you become in those habits, the more you risk lying or sneaking around. This pattern can kickstart a dangerous relapse.
"It's ___ Fault I Relapsed"
When processing a relapse, it's normal to point fingers. He said that. She didn't do that. That rehab didn't care about me. That therapist was incompetent.
While some of this blame may feel valid and justified, it doesn't exempt you from personal responsibility. You are accountable for your recovery. Only you can decide if you drink or use drugs.
Taking this full ownership will allow you to release animosity towards others. It will also require you to focus on areas where you still need to grow and heal.
"Once ___ Happens, Everything Will Be Fine"
Once I get the job, everything will be fine.
Once my wife forgives me, everything will be fine.
Once I get out of jail, everything will be fine.
This fallacy is one of the most common lies people tell themselves. Research shows that we're relatively bad at predicting how we will feel in the future. But that doesn't stop us from assuming that a certain event will magically erase all the pain.
In reality, life is far more nuanced. No single event will create total happiness. Even if it does make things better, life has a way of returning to its usual homeostasis fairly quickly.
"I Won't Ever Go Back To Where I Was"
This lie can emerge when someone feels successful and happy with their recovery. While in this positive mindset, it can feel surreal to imagine life feeling so broken or hopeless.
However, sustainable recovery requires humility. Having an overinflated ego can lead you right back on the road you thought you'd never see again. Often, this spiral happens fast, and that's why it's important to remember that the risk doesn't ever entirely disappear.
Becoming Honest about the Lies People Tell Themselves
Lying to yourself is rarely malicious or even intentional. In many cases, these lies serve as protective barriers helping you avoid discomfort.
But a wholehearted recovery requires facing discomfort time and time again. By embracing this work, you can unleash a happier and more authentic life.
At The Mental Health House, we support people in becoming honest with themselves and others.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.