Sunday, November 25, 2012

Believing Your Own Lies

We all know that there are people who lie. But there are also people who lie to themselves and who seem to believe themselves.

Are people actually able to convince themselves of their own lies?
Do some people really talk themselves into believing their imaginary stories? Do they even realise anymore that they are lying?
This is a phenomenon that I could often observe with regard to certain people. A person that called me a few days ago told me about what a colleague of hers has done and that she thinks it is terrible. What is remarkable is that this person had done the same thing in an even worse extent over a long period of time. I didn’t know what to say. After all, she should have known I remember what she had done, so normally she wouldn’t mention similar behaviours of others in order to not draw attention to it. The only explanation is that she decided to pretend it never happened and not just in front of others but for herself.
It seems to me that some people actually succeed in talking themselves into believing that their own false behaviour never happened. It is astonishing what humans are capable of. I was aware of the fact that this person tells a lot of lies and tries to convince others of them but so far I have never realised she does actually believe them herself. This does explain some things, it makes me understand things I have never understood before.
What I am not sure about though is whether this is a sign of some serious mental disorder or whether we all do that to a certain extent.
I think sometimes people try to repress bad memories, which is perfectly understandable in some cases. However, is it still normal to behave like any false behaviour on your side  has never existed and to actually believe it?
What is even more extreme is that there are people who build up a whole world of lies. In school, one of my friends told me about a classmate that had made up his own successful band, lots of friends and a girlfriend and that he openly talked about them all the time and that apparently he told everyone how popular, rich and good-looking they all were, in addition to a lot of other rather unbelievable stories. I believe that you shouldn’t judge someone without even knowing him, so I told my friend that it might indeed be only due to unfavourable circumstances that no one had ever seen these friends, band, or girlfriend. However, I got to meet that person and at some point it became impossible to deny that something was obviously wrong with his stories (this is an understatement). No one was sure whether he believed in his own lies. In my opinion, at some point he had started to believe that his stories were true.
e has built up his own imaginary world. 

Sometimes we talk ourselves into believing certain things because we want them to be true.
Some children even have imaginary friends and you wouldn’t consider that as lying.
But where is the cross point between lying and having your own view of the world? If you believe your own lies, are you telling the truth? There is this quote that I mentioned in a post in the beginning of my blogging days: Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Don’t we all have our own views and opinions about who we are and how the world looks like? And if we don’t actively think about it, we think that this is how the world actually looks like. But what if it does in fact look completely different for everyone else? And I am sure it does.
So do we actually all live in our own imaginary world?


  1. I'm not sure if we live in our own imaginery worlds but I am of the opinion that if you believe what you are saying is true you are telling the truth. Sometimes people may have been wrong about something but it doesn't mean they lied they were just incorrect. Sometimes people have different views on the world so what they may be doing may seem to be one thing but to the other person may be something completely different. I do believe there is a mental health problem that is related to someone not knowing when they themselves are lying but I can't remember what it's called. Nice blog, quite thought provoking :-)

    1. I believe that there are definitely different opinions on all subjects and even if some people may be incorrect in what they're saying, it might be the truth for them. But there are also people who know that they are lying, but tell their lies so often that at some time they seem to believe them themselves. I wonder whether they really do or whether they know deep down that they are lying.
      Thank you! :)

  2. I once wrote somewhere that it's easier to live a lie than actually believe it. Unless a person has severe psychological problems, I think most of us know when we're lying to ourselves. That's why lying to oneself never brings real peace: there's always the anxiety that someone knows or will find out the real story.

    1. Thank you for your comment!
      I think I read somewhere that to be really good at lying you have to believe your own lies. Some people seem to be so convinced by their own lies that one really doesn't know whether they still know that they are lying.
      I do believe too that lying to oneself never brings real peace.

    2. Having been the victim of some one who convinces himself that he is telling the truth no matter what I am a bit touchy about this. I think there are times when we misunderstand, or misconstrue things and may repeat something incorrectly believing it to be the truth. There are however some people who do live in a fantasy world of their own making. I have seen where the person saw everything through rose colored glasses and their own interpretation of things and were unable to understand a different view point. Another person I know sees everything from a paranoid point of view. "The world is out to get me" They end up seeing any difference of opinion as an attack on them personally. Trying to point out what was actually said or meant is a complete waste of time. Unfortunately there are people who will believe them and support them.

  3. Sometimes, people confabulate or embellish to fill voids in their memory, and sometimes, they lie to cover things up or manipulate others. The first scenario is generally quite harmless, like taking artistic license, but the second is more of an intent to deceive. The problem lies in being cognizant of which is which.

    1. The second is definitely less harmless but I do think that the first one can also be quite dangerous because these people sometimes don't seem to know anymore that they are lying.
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Great post Kleopatra, got me thinking.
    I think that there are some people who don't want to expose their own faults, so they purposely hide their errors by either not speaking about it, or denying it altogether. They will correct others who make mistakes and ignore the fact that they have done or are doing the same thing.

    There are others who have got so use to lying that they fail to recognise the truth in front of them. They have built up their own world whilst living in the real one.

    We do all have our views and opinions and yes, it is just that, a view or an opinion of how we see things but there is also the issue of factual evidence in the real world, and if we have to lie about it continuously then something is wrong.
    Example: In your post you mentioned about the person who made up a whole story about being in a band etc. The fact remains that he lied for whatever reason. If he continued to say this throughout his adulthood then I would have no doubt something was seriously wrong and maybe he was living in an imaginary world of his own. (not sure if I explained my point well enough though).

    1. Thank you RPD!
      This totally reminds me of the person I mentioned first in my post, that's what she does, denying her own faults but reminding others of every single fault they've ever done.

      Yes, you explained your point well enough. I agree, there are things where everyone has a different opinion and there is no absolute truth, but telling stories like that person is obviously not the truth.
      And I do think that there must be something wrong with him. When I met that person he was 18 and I think he either really lived in an imaginary world of his own without knowing anymore what is the real world, or he just wanted to make his life seem more interesting and did know exactly that he was telling lies. Either way, I think something must have been wrong with that person. I don't know if he still tells these stories.

  5. I've met a few people in my life that live lies, or whatever. But the scary ones are the ones that seem to believe the lies they tell. The ones that lie constantly are ones to watch out for as well, because you can never separate the truth out from anything, and you have to believe its all lies. I know someone that if I was walking in the rain, dripping wet, and he told me it was raining, I'd still have to make sure that rain was indeed falling on me.

    1. I know what you mean, there are people you can't trust at all because you never know whether they're telling the truth.
      Thank you for your comment!

  6. Hi Kleopatra, very intriguing post!
    What interested me is how you focused on the idea of people lying to themselves rather than just each other, I am very much for the idea that many people lie to themselves to create their own (somewhat) false worlds around them, I think they do it, most of the time, as a necessity or almost defense mechanism against something in their world that is harming them, or potentially harmful to them. For example, I do it myself: I'm scared to death of getting rejected by females for dates, so much so that I tell myself that any girl I'm even slightly interested in that they dispise me and think I'm ugly. Every time I see them I lie to myself saying "She hates you, she thinks you're a fat, ugly, idiot!" in my head over and over again until the thought of asking her out becomes almost non-existant-this protects me from ever actually asking her out and getting turned down by her and having that great deal of pain of rejection to deal with.

    Or, for a much more extreme example, think of Fight Club (if you haven't seen/read this, PLEASE forgive me for the spoilers, or just don't read on)- The narrator was stuck in a rut of materialism-induced depression- buying and buying name branded things he felt like he could die and had the worst case of insomnia- Thus he created this alter ego Tyler Durden character-who in reality was really just one giant lie!- (which was really himself the whole time) who blew up his materialistic apartment, and started the most extreme thing possible from his past life- a Fight Club, and after all this happened, he slept like a baby and solved all his other old problems! So you could kind of say his sub-conciece formed the giant lie of Tyler Durden to save him from his old self and the crap-sandwich he was headed for.

    Anyway, very thought-provoking post Kleopatra!

    1. Hi Tyler, thank you for your also very thought-provoking comments!

      I totally agree that a lot of people do that to a certain extent. But the way you describe it, you do know that it is not true what you are telling yourself and you even know why you are doing it.
      I am wondering whether everyone who creates his own false world around him knows what he is doing or whether there are people who are really not aware of the fact that they are inventing things.

      Actually I haven’t seen it, but it does sound interesting. If I got this right, the alter ego he created is in reality also a part of him, so it is not completely made up. This is interesting, about the sub-conscience forming a lie to protect him, this way it does sound like a positive thing. I think as long as it doesn’t do any harm to others, it doesn’t have to be bad. It gets more difficult when it also affects others, in a negative way.

      Thank you! :)

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