3 Subtle Lies That Create an “Illusion of Truth” Effect
“Lies which we believe turn into truths with which we live.” ~ Oliver Hassencamp
The other day I had the worst nightmare. It was so frightening that I couldn’t sleep after waking up at 3:00 am. So, I decided to write something; but I sucked at it.
I decided to pour myself some tea to refill my energy. But I found that the tea-packet was empty. Nothing was working for me, so I thought of taking a shower. Stepping into the bathtub, I slipped.
I was pissed off by the morning.
But the worst was yet to come. While going to work, my car broke down in the middle of nowhere. It was so early to get a lift from someone or even to find an Uber. Fortunately, I found one cab after waiting for an hour, freezing my bones in the cold.
My head began to ache, so I asked the cab driver to take a detour to the Tim Hortons drive-through. But the queue was so long that it could have cost me another twenty minutes or so; I decided to head straight to the office.
Somehow, pulling myself together, I reached the office. Everyone started to greet, “Hey, Good Morning! How are you?”
Instantly, unaware, planting a big smile on my face, I said, “I am fine, thanks,” and made a beeline for my cubicle.
Breathing relief after settling on my desk, I realized that, “though my morning sucked, I still said I was fine. I lied about my well-being but ironically, I felt better after saying that?”
I was puzzled by this science. I googled instantly about this logic.
I found a research study published in Europe’s Journal of Psychology stating that telling the same lies repeatedly makes it real for us. And since we believe in these lies, they make us feel that way. It is often referred to as illusory truths.
I was fascinated and wanted to learn more; I tried to think more about it.
Resting my head on the armchair in the office lounge at lunch, I was still thinking about the same. I realized that we tell plenty of lies to ourselves and others without comprehending or thinking about it.
I thought, “if lying about my well-being can make me feel better, it could also be true for other lies too.” This thought terrified me a bit because lies are lies.
Later I came across a research experiment conducted by David R. Hamilton, Ph.D. proving that our brain can’t separate a real thing from an imaginary. When we start believing in lies, we feel that it’s true. (because the brain remembers everything in the form of feelings)
The more I was researching, the more I was amazed. Looking at myself and others, I realized that we had subconsciously wired our brains to tell lies because we have believed in them. Due to this psychological fact, we are repeatedly telling lies unconsciously, and some are actually becoming real.
Digging further into this topic, I found that we all are telling these three lies (unaware)almost every day. As a result, they’re making us feel terrible. Most of our mental stress and life problems have arisen because of these lies.
I. I Am Busy
Whenever someone comes to us with a request, the first thing that we speak or want to speak is, “I am busy.”
But the truth is we are never busy. It’s only about priorities.
Internally, we feel that the other person is not that important to be addressed, so we excuse ourselves with this lie.
Suppose your child asks you to take him to a picnic; you turn down his/her request by this lie. Now, if your colleague or manager hosts a dinner party and invites you, you’ll feel it’s an obligation to attend, so you accept it. Here, the priorities changed because your thinking has changed. You weigh your professional life more than your personal life.
For some, we are busy, while for some, we are never busy. But often, we use this lie to escape from situations or requests.
But abusing this lie, it becomes so real that our brains have evolved to be unnecessarily busy. All the time, we are thinking about something or the other. If we pause and check, we’ll find that most of our thoughts are waste. (i.e., thoughts of fear, memories, fantasies, etc.)
Being busy overthinking, we lose our mental energy; consequently, we can not complete even the smallest task in a scheduled time frame. This lie has imprinted on the brain DNA to such an extent that we always want to be busy with distractions like mobile, movies, etc. And these distractions are burdening us with fatigue.
If we think everyone has the same twenty fours. Some of us use it while some abuse it.
What can be done instead:
Since this lie has been harrowed deeper inside the brain, we need to work at the mental level.
Whenever we want to tell this lie, we must ask ourselves, “what is it that I am super busy. If I actually am, do I need to change something in my routine or habits?”
I love how Henry David Thoreau explains this lie:
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
By answering the above question, we’d be able to look within ourselves to straighten our priorities and check if we’re heading in the right direction or not. Slowly and gradually, we’ll be able to erase this lie from our brains.
II. I Don’t Know What Should I Do
Everyone is different in all aspects. Everyone has different abilities and personalities. Some can run faster, while some can jump higher. Everyone is unique.
But, the fact is we fail to identify our strengths. Even if we do, we are scared to work according to our strengths. We are afraid of the consequences.
Besides, we get caught up in the “comparison trap” and “what others might think.” And owing to this weak mentality, we lean on others for approval.
Warren Buffet quoted a beautiful line in one of his interviews:
Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
I think he’s 100% correct. If we don’t risk anything, then life would be devoid of all of the fun. Without risking, our life would be pale and dull.
Does the idea of life without struggles and failures sound interesting?
We know the answer, but since we are using this lie, our brain has started believing in it. The more we are saying this lie, the weaker and dumber we are becoming.
This lie has made us more dependent on others now than ever before because it gives us a leeway to escape from shouldering any personal responsibility.
What can be done instead:
We must always remember that “life is just an experiment,” and we all learn by committing mistakes. But, forgetting to implement this rule or “becoming too lazy to dare” forces us to use this lie.
Stop thinking about what others might think about you. It’s your life, and no one is going to live it for you. You are always responsible for what you do. (even if you choose to live your life according to others.)
I have made a list of my strengths and achievements. Whenever I feel that I don't know what to do or can’t make decisions, I revise it. Instantly, it makes me realize that I have achieved these merits by believing in myself. It empowers me to take charge of what I want to do.
So, make it a mantra of your life never to use this lie. Because every time we use it, our mind becomes weak and lazy enough to do something creative and fun.
Steve Jobs once stated his life secret in his interviews:
“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
The next time we feel an urge to use this lie, we must look within and value ourselves by doing what we want rather than depending on others.
III. I Cannot Live Without Something/Someone
Okay, this is a lie we all tell 1000X in a day.
If we’re in a relationship, on the first date, we tell, “Oh my darling, I love you so much that I can’t live without you.”
And then after the first fight we yell, “You had been so annoying since day one that I don’t even want to see your face.”
So, what happened between the first date and the first fight?
When we tell such lies, it wires the brain to be dependent on one another.
Have you not noticed that two independent people become dependent on their partners after falling in love?
However, depending on one another isn't harmful. But excessive dependence spoils the joy of a relationship.
I have noticed from my friends and family that partners in relationships become so dependent on one another that they can’t even fulfill their daily chores by themselves. From finding bath towels to socks, choosing what to wear to deciding what to cook, partners depend on each other for everything.
Isn’t this a toxic habit?
When we’re small, we were dependent on parents; then we replaced them with teachers, friends, jobs, etc. We have become so weak using this lie that now we are using it for gadgets and social media. We have become so mentally fragile that we can’t even pass an hour without checking our phones' notifications.
What can be done instead:
First of all, stop using this line.
No one or nothing accompanies us to eternity. We need to hammer this truth into our brains. This thought will empower us to be practical and use wise words instead of flattery lies.
Second of all, if we don't learn to live without someone/something, then time indeed teaches us to do so.
It’s rightly said that:
“Time is the best teacher.”
Besides, we must remember that the only things we can’t live without are air, water, and food. The rest of the things are complementary.
We all have learned from books and movies that lies are beneficial when they’re not selfish.
But what about those repeated lies that make a deep groove on our brains and influence our feelings?
Lies aren’t bad until they harm us or others. But the moment they start affecting us or others negatively, it’s a sign to change.
I want to quote Adolf Hitler in this context:
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
So, we must always be careful of what we say; who knows what our minds might pick and manifest into a reality.