From white to grey, there are many aspects to a person’s lies. Yet, lying — harmless or not — is very much a part of human disposition.
Running late for work? Bam! Text message with an excuse (read lie) sent to the boss. Not in the mood for the party at a friend’s place? There you go again with the same process. Willing to take over the project that could be a milestone for your career? Time for some manipulation so that nothing comes in between you and your ambition.
From white to grey, there are many aspects to a person’s lies. Yet, lying — which can either be harmless or the exact opposite of it — is very much a part of human disposition, say psychologists.
“We all engage in a bit of white lies and manipulation. Usually, it is because of the negative emotions we experience. Either it is guilt, or shame, or the avoidance of threat. As evolutionary beings, the process of lying comes naturally to us,” explains Dr Sanjana Saraf, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, Max Hospital.
While some might develop a habit of lying — which makes it a personality disorder — others lie in order to mould situations in their favour.
“There are some people who tend to lie too often, to show themselves in a positive light. There is usually a deep-seated trauma in the past or there have been instances that have left the person vulnerable,” adds Dr Sanjana.
With the advent of social media, people feel the need to show they are doing well in life.
“People feel happy when they show that they are doing well in life on social media. It is self-soothing. You are trying to hide what you are really going through. You might be low in confidence or have a lot of financial worries. Everybody wants to put their best foot forward. It may not be a psychological lie, but you do it for your own self-esteem,” says Dr Vipul Rastogi, senior consultant psychologist, Medanta.
However, this extremely common tendency of lying, and not abiding by the morals we are taught in childhood, are all a product of the “acceptable culture” we are a part of. Trying to abide by society’s norms, even if we are uncomfortable with them, makes us lie and present an untrue version of our personality.
Dr Gorav Gupta, senior psychologist, agrees. He says, “Lying is also a part of the system which is culturally acceptable. In Switzerland, no one checks your tickets while you are travelling. This serves the system of honesty that the Swiss believe in. But this is not the case in India.”
No matter how common, lying can never be categorised as good or bad.
“It is difficult to draw a line there. There are times when I lie to my patients as part of their treatment, like when I’m dealing with patients suffering from addiction problems. At times, one lies just to get the advantage,” says Dr Gorav.