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The forked tongue

Published February 03. 2014 01:08PM

It's been around since the creation of man.

It has caused wars, financial ruin, division, pain, the destruction of families and even death.

It is a lie.

For some, it is a rare occurrence and for others, it is a way of life.

Sometimes I sit back and watch in shock and amusement as someone will spew lie after lie with such casualness (as if they actually believe their own distorted story), that it makes me wonder if they even live on the same planet that I do.

What is even more interesting is to watch and listen to someone lie when I myself was actually present for the incident that they are lying about and I am fully aware of the truth of the events.

While I can easily shake my head in disgust or extract a good chuckle from the lies of the average Joe, when someone I care about or have a real relationship with lies to me, it really cuts to the heart; often leaving me feeling betrayed, unloved and insignificant.

Even worse is when someone you care about very much speaks untruthfully about you.

In addition to being hurtful, lying also breaks the bonds of trust and if the lying persists, those bonds may very well never be repaired.

There are different types of lies and various reasons why people do it.

Ignorance. Often people do not have all of the facts and although they think they are being truthful, they in fact are not. It is always a good idea to have your facts straight before you open your mouth.

Omission. Lies of omission, in my opinion, are the cleverest of all lies because you "technically" aren't lying. Instead, you purposefully choose to leave certain pieces of pertinent information out.

Denial. Ah, when you just can't seem to acknowledge what the truth really is, not only to others, but mainly to yourself.

Next, there are lies that either make light of or exaggerate the situation.

Of course then, there are the fabricated lies; the ones that are entirely made up with little, if any, truth at the core.

Sometimes, the perpetrators of these types of lies can be so cunning and convincing; other times their lies are so far-fetched that you almost want to hand them a pen and some paper and suggest to them that they would have a brilliant career as a fiction writer.

Knowing full well that eventually, all will be revealed, why is it that people lie?

Here is a short list of the most common reasons people bear false witness:

• To attempt to avoid getting into trouble for something they did or failed to do.

• To avoid hurting other people's feelings.

• To avoid confrontation.

• To get their own way.

• To make them feel better about themselves.

• To make others feel better about themselves.

• To intentionally hurt or to tarnish the integrity of others.

While it may be difficult to always spot a liar, there are some things you can watch out for to know if you are possibly being deceived:

• Avoidance of eye contact

• Body language

• Changes in voice and speech

• Frequent contradictions

With perhaps the exception of planning a surprise party for someone where a deception is needed to get them to the appropriate place at the appropriate time, lying is never OK and should never be tolerated in children or adults.

Failure to address the lie or the person wearing the flaming pants only reinforces the behavior.

Parents wrestle with this on a daily basis as children constantly test their boundaries.

It is almost expected that children will lie, although I don't think it should be.

What really troubles me is when we see this pattern of behavior consistently in adults who lie so much that it has become second nature with little, if any thought as to how much they hurt others in addition to themselves.

There is always a price to be paid for lying.

The question for all of us is, is it worth it?

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