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Monday, November 9, 2015

Psychotherapy Blog: Are You Lying to Yourself and Others About Who You Are?

In an earlier article, When Trust Breaks Down: Lies of Omission, I discussed a particular type of lying that can ruin a relationship, lies of omission, because it creates mistrust.  In this article, I'm focused on how lying can become a way of life where you're lying to yourself as well as to others, and along the way, you become more and more alienated from your authentic self.

Are You Lying to Yourself and Others About Who You Are?

Most people will admit that they lie now and then. Most people say that they tell lies to keep from hurting other people's feelings.  This isn't the type of lying that I'm focusing on here.

The lying that I'm referring to often starts out of a deep-seated fear that you're not "good enough" compared to other people.

I'm not referring to what con men or sociopaths do for criminal activity.

What I'm focusing on is much more common.

It might start out by exaggerating certain things about yourself, like what you do for a living, how much money you make or other exaggerations about other aspects.

It can be a slippery slope from exaggerating to telling out right lies, especially if you get the attention and admiration that you might be seeking.

Are You Lying to Yourself and Others About Who You Are?

In my opinion, there is more pressure today than in the past to be seen as "successful" and as a "winner" and, as a result, more common to present a false self.  As compared with 20 years ago, "success" seems to be viewed in narrow terms, mostly to do with financial success.

With the advent of social media sites, like Facebook, where friends are posting happy pictures of their relationships, their vacations, the purchases and even the food they eat, it's easy to feel envious and compare yourself unfavorably to others and feel you're not good enough (see my articles: How to Stop Comparing Yourself Unfavorably to Others and Is Your Envy of Others Ruining Your Relationships?)

Comparing yourself unfavorably to others, whether it's on social media or in person, can leave you feeling like an "outsider"--like everyone else knows how to be "cool" and you don't (see my article:  Feeling Like an Outsider in an Insider's World), which can be deeply painful.  For many people, this feeling has it's origins in childhood when they weren't part of the popular crowd or they weren't picked to be on certain teams.

Are You Lying to Yourself and Others About Who You Are?

While it's true that not everyone is susceptible to this pressure to "be a success," there are many people, who already feel insecure about themselves without this external pressure and who would rather lie to themselves as well as others (about who they are and what they have) than to be seen as unsuccessful.

Unfortunately, feeding into this problem is the popular notion, which is marketed in some motivational speakers in so-called self improvement seminars, that promote a "fake it till you make it" or "if you think you're a success, you are a success" type of mentality.

So-Call Self Improvement Seminars: "Fake It Till You Make It"

It's feel-good strategy that begins to create the lie for many people who feel there's something missing in them and they want a quick fix to eliminate their sense of inadequacy.

The problem is that there's a difference between a getting pumped up emotionally in a weekend self improvement seminar and doing the inner psychological required to make genuine changes within yourself.

The weekend self improvement strategy is appealing to many people because it promises quick change.  Unfortunately, it often leads to a receding of the genuine self into the background.

For some people the feeling that you're not being authentic can be so offensive and disappointing that it's enough to destroy the relationship.  This can leave you with only superficial friendships with people who are also lying and pretending to be someone that they're not.

How to Stop Lying to Yourself and Others About Who You Are
If you've been lying to yourself and others about who you are, it's not easy to change.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how you can stop lying to yourself and others about who you are.  Since everyone and every situation is different, it will depend on the circumstances.

How to Stop Lying to Yourself and Others About Who You Are

At the very least, you must be willing to overcome your fear that people won't like you just the way you are.  This begins by learning to like yourself.

In a prior article, Learning to Feel Comfortable With Yourself, I discuss various strategies that might be helpful to begin the journey of reconnecting with your authentic self.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you've been caught up in lying to yourself and others for a while, trying to find your way back to being your authentic self can feel very challenging, and you might not know where to begin to reconnect with your inner world.

Getting in Help in Therapy

A licensed mental health professional can help you to understand the underlying issues that created the problem, overcome the fear that you're not good enough as you are, as well as help you to reconnect with your true self.

As you become more comfortable with who you really are, you'll be attracted to people who have more depth to their character than just judging people by their financial success or outward appearance.

Living in a more authentic way can be freeing and create an a positive ripple effect (see my article:  The Positive Ripple Effect).

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many clients to overcome feelings of inadequacy so that they can live more authentic lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

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