I should tell you straight. I’m a liar, a cheat and a trickster. It’s my job. Specifically, in the context of this blog you should know that I consistently change names, gender and the specific details of case histories in order to protect the identity of my clients. And in my sessions with people I do the same thing, telling stories about things that happened to "a friend of mine" or to myself. I’m not trying to mislead people. My stories always have a purpose. It’s just not always the purpose you might think.
Hypnosis is like theatre in some respects- it requires the suspension of disbelief. In theatre you suspend your disbelief so you can enter fully into the fictional reality of the performance. In hypnosis you suspend your disbelief in order to imagine vividly a future you want to live in. Hypnosis can change lives. So can the theatre. My life has been changed for the better more than once just by reading a book.
But you know what, I’m not the only liar around here. You’re a liar, your mum and dad are liars- in fact everyone you know and love are huge liars.
Before the hate mail starts rolling in let me just qualify that because it seems to me that there are different kinds of lies.
1) there are the out and out whoppers, the "black lies". You know you’re lying but you do it anyway: maybe because you want to avoid the unpleasantness of telling the truth and the consequences that will follow, maybe because you want to look better in someones eyes than you really are.
2) There are the "white lies"- you still know you’re lying but your intention is to protect someone else from the consequences. You just bend the truth a little. It’s for their own good!
3) There are the exaggerations where you distort the truth of what actually happened for dramatic effect. You know, the fish was 5 foot long not just 2 foot. Whether you want to make yourself look better or a situation seem much worse you probably still know what you’re doing- but this one is a slippery slope. Some people manage to forget they were exaggerating because in their mind they’re already remembering the fiction, not what really happened.
4) There are the confabulations- that’s a fancy word for the stories that we make up to explain why we did something or why we believe something. We all do this and to call it lying is a bit unfair because its just the way the mind works. Often the reasons we do something are so complicated no simple story could ever capture the truth.
5) There are the ommissions and the sleight of mouth that skim the surface of reality, in silence stealing the truth.
6) Finally and most dangerously, there are the lies we tell ourselves and come to believe. Maybe we want to protect our image of ourselves, maybe to protect ourselves from the shame we’ld feel if we owned up to the truth of how other people see us.
Now I used to be very idealistic. I thought truth was the be all and end all. I certainly believed that truth and honesty were essential ingredients in a relationship. Now I’m not so sure. I know that’s what I want but I’ve come to accept that other people have different priorities. And who am I to judge them.
What I do know is that lying ALWAYS has a cost. Every time you tell a lie you split reality, you fragment your own identity and it takes energy to maintain that deception. Life just gets more complicated.
In the long term the truth is always simpler and easier.