Can therapists tell when you are lying? This is one of the most common questions that I’m asked by clients, and it’s a valid question. There are many differences between what we call ‘lying’ and ‘telling the truth’. Let’s look at these differences and explore the possibility that some people cannot tell the difference between what they believe and what they are actually saying.
The truth is often not spoken, it is only told to those whom we trust enough to tell it to. However, many times we wish to conceal our truths for various reasons. We may need to protect our feelings, or we may want to avoid certain facts. Other times we may be hoping to convince someone else of something, and may try to embellish our stories in order to do so. This is all part of human life and lying is an integral part of it.
When we talk about lying, we typically think of somebody else. Sometimes we may tell fibs just to make another person happy. However, there are times when we may be compelled to tell the truth, either to protect ourselves or to protect someone else. For example, if a crime was committed against us, we may need to tell the police our side of the story in order to clear ourselves and our family of any involvement in the crime.
In addition, we may have to tell a variety of stories in order to give ourselves some protection from being directly scrutinized. When a co-worker asks us a direct question such as “What on earth did you do?” or “Are you sure that you didn’t see what happened?” we may want to fib to avoid having to answer those questions directly. Therefore, we may decide to engage in a type of conversational hypnosis to let the other person know that we are lying.
While it’s possible to learn how to lie by studying how others do it, there’s no quick fix. After all, there is no magic button that may cause an instantaneous change in behavior. However, there are things that you can do to make your words more believable. For example, when you’re pressed for an answer and you know the truth is bad, you may choose to simply say, “Well, I guess that’s why my shoes are so worn out.” While it may not seem like much, people tend to believe this statement more than they would a different version of the truth.
On the other hand, if you feel that you have a great deal to hide and that your answers aren’t necessarily what the other person wants to hear, you may want to simply tell them the truth. If you are pressed for an answer, you may decide to use a clever version of “I don’t know” or “That’s kind of silly.” You may also decide to give a bit of perspective to your response. For example, if you’re asked a question about a specific incident that you would like to be sure not to bring up, you may choose to refer back to something that you were more comfortable discussing at the time.
It’s important to remember that no matter how much you try to conceal it, lying is still going to happen. If you are facing a therapist, the first person you should be comfortable with is them. If you attempt to lie to them or tell them untruths, they may become defensive and will rightfully be suspicious. By working with your therapist to improve the ways you communicate, you can often avoid situations where your therapist has to question your truthfulness.
If you are concerned that your partner may be lying to you, don’t be afraid to confront the issue. No one deserves to be put into a position where they feel dishonest or untrue. When communicating with your loved one, make sure you remain calm and do your best to remain honest and focused. While the truth may come out, the lies will stay hidden.