WHY THE TITLE?
I guess that it takes me back to my childhood when ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire’ could be heard echoing around many a playground or park. As for the origins of the saying, sadly there are many lies around this, so I will avoid this particular open door. Instead, I will focus on pants that may have been alight in my world over the years. An earlier blog from March of last year entitled Lies – white or otherwise included how we can be affected by lies and by telling them.
LIES FROM AFAR AND NEARBY
For the vast majority of us, our lives have been affected to a greater or lesser degree by lies. As I mentioned in my introduction, such lies have led me to be wary, to check things, to not instantly trust new people coming into my life. This doesn’t mean that I am unfriendly towards them, rather that I hold a check on what I say, how much I share with them that I consider personal information.
I have been on a dating site for some time. I have always been very open about this with friends and shared the tales of some of the dates that I had, people that I met. In fact, it was often suggested that I should write a book about them as I so often had friends chuckling about what had happened. This will be the closest that I have ever come to beginning that book!
To actually reach the point of that first meeting, there were initially messages exchanged via the site. I always held back from giving my email address or phone number until we had exchanged a few messages. Some were given the ‘thank you but no thank you’ message pretty quickly. Those who were very much younger or older than I am. Those who began overflowing with words expressing how much they thought of me and how I looked. I always tried to support their future ventures by suggesting that they hold back on such language until they actually began to know me, or any future prospective dates. Guess once a teacher, always a teacher. To me it was a form of lying – lying in order to try to flatter me into thinking the best of them. I did, however, attempt to resist being influenced by spelling or grammar, though I admit that such attempts were not always successful.
Then, there were the out and out liars. Guys trying to big up who or what they were in an effort, presumably, to influence me in a positive way. Sometimes I just knew. I just knew that they were not who or what they said. Either that or the old maxim of – if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. One that fell into this category was someone who contacted me from America. His photograph attracted me, yet the words just didn’t ring true though I couldn’t put my finger on my reasoning behind this. So, I turned to Google and checked the picture. Lo and behold, it was not the person in the profile, rather a US Senator. I replied that I was surprised that he had enough time to do all that he did. More waffle returned, so I threw in my ace card – and you still have time for your work in the Senate? Funnily, I never heard from him again – or did that have something to do with me reporting him to the site?
There was another guy whose photo included a stethoscope around his neck. Details of what he actually did were quite vague, but presumably the intention was to lead the unwary to believe that he worked in some sort of medical field – be this with humans or animals. After a couple of evasive exchanges, I asked what part in his life the stethoscope played. His response – he thought it looked interesting and rather sexy! Mine to him – only if you know how to use it and do so on a daily basis. Another one bit the dust.
Then we have the guy who claimed he was a pilot. He didn’t include a photograph, so I had to rely on his words. Sadly for him, I had a huge advantage of which he was unaware. My son is a civilian pilot. My ex was a fighter pilot, a display pilot and then moved on to fly civilian aircraft. So, aircraft of many different shapes and sizes and the world around them have been a part of my world for many years. In his profile, he had said that he worked at the airport. Obviously, in response to his initial communication I asked what he did there. He told me that he was a pilot. I asked which airline he flew for and was told ‘a couple’ of the big ones. I asked which planes he flew and was told ‘several’. I replied with great interest – that this was unusual. It was usually just one airline – ok maybe with a bit of spare time air taxi work. Ditto the aircraft type for the professional side of life, though some can have more than one type on their license. I then got really girly and asked him which uniform he liked best!! Think he thought I was hooked with that one, so I confessed to knowing a bit about the aviation world and was he really a pilot? Surprise, surprise, he fessed up to being a baggage handler. I explained that had he said that in the first place, I would have been happy to chat, but not when he had been digging himself in deeper and deeper with his make believe world based on lies. Basically Mr Liar, Liar pants (no matter which airline they belonged to) on fire. Over and out.
Apart from the lies used by abusers such as gaslighters that are intended to hurt us, are the lies that we tell ourselves which also cause hurt. Sadly, the more that we give ourselves negative messages which are usually completely untrue, the more we believe them. I have a feeling that a certain, soon to be ex, president falls into this group. He has told so very many lies and repeated them over and over that many mental health professionals consider that he actually believes what he says. This applies to those of us who have not reached such dizzying heights.
So many of us tell ourselves that we are not clever enough; are not slim enough; are not pretty or handsome enough. This is usually at the expense of our self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth. Once we are in this mode, the many positives are set aside, ignored or given a totally false negative spin – and we become that person we talked ourselves into being. Fortunately, neuroscience shows us that if we replace this negativity with positive self-messages, we can reverse the process. We can become more confident with a much more healthy outlook on life and our ability to not only get by, but to be content with the person that we are – a head up and shoulder back approach to life once the lies are kicked into touch.
A form of self lie with which I have been struggling over the past months of lockdowns etc is that I actually believe my dreams. In fact, I have done quite a bit of work around dreams, but this has been set aside and I have come to believe that my dreams are not representational, rather they are factual. By doing this I am telling myself lies. Lies that have led me to come downstairs during the night as I was convinced by my dream that there was someone in my house. What I would have done had this been true, I am not sure. On another occasion, I was out in the garden with a torch as I was convinced that someone was stealing things from my garden! The one that led to a lot of self-talk to click me out of this mode was when I dreamed that my cat was really ill downstairs – the yowls were heart rending. I threw back my covers and down I went. He is an indoor cat, but I couldn’t find him. I went back upstairs and searched the other bedrooms. Nothing. So, I went back to bed, worried about where he was and what should I do. I pulled the covers back over me .... to reveal said cat curled up fast asleep apart from a brief opening of one eye probably in complaint against the disturbance!
CHILDREN AND LIES
It is felt that children begin to tell lies at an early age, probably to worm their way into getting something they want from an adult, however, it isn’t until around the age of nine or ten that they grasp an understanding of right or wrong. For most, this leads to a lessening of the use of untruths.
As a class teacher of 8-9 year olds, we were working on the topic of houses and homes and I had arranged for an estate agent to come in to talk to my class. All went well. As a very responsive group, they asked and answered questions. Then came one question that completely stumped said estate agent. One young lady simply asked if he ever told the truth when describing a house! I guess a question that many of us would like to have posed over the years. He did waffle somewhat about expanding on the truth and leaving out negative aspects of a property, but her question had certainly hit the mark around how lies can be a part of a selling situation – hence buyer beware.
We, as adults, need to take care of the way that we talk to children. In general by setting a positive example, but also by way of telling lies. It is a very fine line between those white lies, fibs, in a build up to a special event intended as a surprise, to how we describe other events. Situations awkward for us to talk about or felt to be hard for a child to hear. I was asked to counsel a little boy in one of the schools that came under my wing. He was having problems at home and in school. Long story short, his grandma had died and his parents, believing they were being kind, told him that she had just gone to sleep and gone up to heaven never to come back. He therefore felt that he had to keep awake in order to avoid the same fate. We talked it through, making use of the word death and dying. He shed some tears for his grandma and was able to begin his grieving and an acceptance of his loss.
So when it comes to those more difficult ‘talks’ – and any parent has no doubt had these, it is better to bite the bullet and tell the truth rather than resort to fantasy (aka lies). That way you avoid any ignition of pants now or at a later date when the truth is revealed.
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