How to Stop Telling Lies & How to Stop Inviting Lies

“That’s a nice top you are wearing. Is that new?” inquires my dad. “Oh, no! I’ve had that for weeks”, replies my mom. What she does not say is that the blouse has been hanging in her closet for three weeks and that it is the first time she is wearing it.

I have heard this and similar conversations unfold repeatedly while growing up. Once she got married at the age of 35, my mom was a homemaker; she did not have her own money anymore and she was married to a man who was thrifty. She liked to spend money, he liked to save it. At some point, she learned that his question often was loaded. He had a tendency to respond with “Did you really need another top? Your closet is full!” or he would at least give her “the look”. He literally would bite his lips together, fold his hands, look down and not say anything. It triggered her shame, and she made the choice not to lie directly but to conceal the full truth to avoid these unpleasant feelings.

In order to understand the nature of lying, we have to be aware that it exists on a continuum. At one end of the spectrum is the deliberate lie or the making up of information. Equivocations are also lies. They are more indirect, ambiguous or contradictory statements that do not offer the entire truth. Concealments are next on the continuum. Omitting important or relevant information is lying. And finally, exaggerations or understatements also don’t paint an accurate picture and are, therefore, not the whole truth.

Truth - Oscar Wilde 2

 

Let’s face it, everybody lies. Lies between spouses or relationship partners have on one hand the possibility to nurture, but they also of course have tremendous potential to destroy a relationship.

You might wonder if it is always bad to lie in a relationship. “Loving lies” actually help to solidify the bond and make the couple feel closer. An example would be to say, “That was a great dinner you made for me,” when we perhaps didn’t quite like the food, but we appreciate the effort. Or, “You look very good,” when our partner just got a bad haircut, because we are happy to look past any flaws in physical appearance, since we love them. A loving lie is not destructive, but actually strengthening.

As it is, people have different motivations for lying. Most people lie to avoid something. We might want to avoid conflict or tension in social interactions, or hurt feelings, or to stay out of trouble or conflict. Some lies are for personal gain: to get out of trouble or to enhance an image.

We lie to others, but we also lie to ourselves. There is an amount of self-deception going on in every relationship. For a relationship, it is important to know ourselves and to honestly and congruently express to our partner what we know about ourselves, our feelings and needs.

In their book, “Tell Me No Lies”, Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson explore different stages of relationships and how to invite truths rather than lies.

 

Honeymoon Stage

At this point of the “game”, it is, according to Bader and Pearson, normal to focus on the similarities and not pay attention as much to our own wishes and desires. We can slip into lies of omission, exaggeration and understatement, in order to prove our compatibility to each other. Trying to be the same is an important step of aligning and minimizing the ways in which we are different. If I know my partner is neat or loves opera, I might not point out to them that without my cleaning help, I am quite messy, or that I prefer musicals to operas. I might think that I could try harder to be neat, or start to like the opera.

“The dark side of the honeymoon” occurs when couples refuse to acknowledge problems. Conflict avoidant people have the biggest issues. They avoid honest talks for fear of rupture of the relationship. They are seeking security over having their own needs met. Unfortunately, this means giving up parts of themselves that matter. When we always compromise and adapt, it catches up with us over time. We might end up being depressed, or silently angry and resentful.

shame-letters-cropped

“Part of the capacity to tell the truth comes from an ability to handle shame and guilt. Sometimes people keep things to themselves because they know what the truth would do to their partner. This is guilt. Others remain silent because of what they’re going to feel about themselves. This is shame.” (Bader & Pearson, Tell Me No Lies, 224)

 

Emerging Differences 

When couples evolve well, each partner begins to actively differentiate after the honeymoon period and speak up about things which are important to them and matter to them. They both risk moving into areas of disagreement and they learn how to deal with tension. It takes courage for both partners. Clearly, we need to be brave to tell the truth, and also to listen to our partner telling the truth.

 

The Lie Invitee

We don’t always like to hear the truth and might respond with anger towards our partner. It’s easy to villainize the liar, but has the person who is being lied to help create this dynamic? Bader and Pearson call the other person the “lie invitee”. Have I been a lie invitee in my relationships? You bet I have! When we respond with anger, or go into attack mode, or act like martyrs, we are not helping a conflict avoidant partner to be truthful.

angry-smoke

“Some people are completely unaware of the fact that they’re invoking lies, while others understand what they are doing but feel helpless to do otherwise. On the unconscious end, someone may say, ‘I am only expressing my feelings as a reaction to what my partner is telling me’… Someone more aware may think, I know I overreact to things I don’t want to hear or I know this is a leading question.” (Bader & Pearson, Tell Me No Lies, 37)

 

How to Hear the Truth and How to Respond

I can only guess what went on in my dad’s head each time my mom spent money, but I am quite sure it was something like this, “Here we go again! She just doesn’t appreciate that I am trying to keep our money together and guarantee our security for old age. She is just so impulsive and wasteful. Why did she need another piece of clothing? I wish I had a wife with the same values when it comes to money. A wife who is thrifty and asks my advice on spending money…”

Don’t make what your partner is telling you personal. It is not about you, but about them. Don’t listen with the goal to confirm a negative view about yourself or your partner. Instead, listen accurately. Listen more than halfway. Listen compassionately and patiently. Ask neutral questions to understand properly.

curious instead of furious)

Bader’s and Pearson’s most important advice is: Be curious instead of furious! You invite the truth by responding, for example, with, “I am glad you are telling me the truth about what happened! I’d rather know what happened than not know it. Now we need to discuss our different values / this situation / what to do about this problem…”

As the person who has to find the courage to be honest, it is helpful to tell your partner when expressing the truth that what you are about to say is not easy for you. Your partner can then be more aware of their response and make sure they listen calmly, say thank you for your honesty, and rationally solve the problem.

One of the biggest acts of self-deception in a relationship is the belief that one is the victim of what is going on but not a contributor. If you have been at the receiving end of lies or half-truths, examine how you might have contributed to this cycle. With that new clarity, you might want to go back to your partner and tell them, “This is what I have been doing that makes it hard for you to be honest with me. Let’s change it together. I would like to create an atmosphere that is conducive to telling the truth. You need the courage to speak up, and I need the courage to listen to what is really going on.”

 

Felony Lies

More extreme lies are what Bader and Pearson call “felony lies”, for example when a partner looks at the other claiming, “No, I am not having an affair! You are crazy for thinking I have an affair” or “No, I don’t have a gambling problem. That’s ridiculous,” when they have an affair or have gambled away the couple’s retirement money. With felony lies, relationships start to disintegrate. The trust is so violated and the honesty so absent that usually these couples end up separating or divorcing.

However, it is possible to heal from felony lies. It requires new honesty. The liar is usually in a big hurry to be done with the situation, and is not sensitive to creating space for their partner to ask a lot of questions, to re-establish what is actually true, and to express some of their feelings about what happened. The process of how people discuss a conversation is very crucial to whether they get over the betrayal or not. A lot of small moments daily over a long period of time are required to regain the trust, instead of trying to rush it and expecting the partner to be over it right away. The absolute foundation of a relationship is not love, it is trust. As Peter Pearson likes to say, “It takes teamwork to make your dream work.”

It takes teamwork

Would you like to make your dream work? You can take a workshop or book individual coaching sessions.

Contact

Belief Change and Relationship Coach Angelika,

905-286-9466,

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Huge Waves

A couple of days ago, when I got to the swimming pool for my morning workout, there was a lady in the change room I had never met before. She commented, “You just missed thunder guy!” I was puzzled, “Who or what is thunder guy?” “There is this guy who sounds like thunder when he swims.” she replied. Then she continued. “But Rachel (name changed) is still in the pool. You can enjoy all the waves she makes. She has been told by several of us but she still makes huge waves.” Then the lady continued to grumble about having to go out into the cold and snow.

A little confused about the “wave problem” I entered the pool area. There were two men and two women in the pool. I wondered which was Rachel as I could not see that either one of the ladies was creating an unreasonable amount of waves. One of them I had seen many times before. She always ambitiously swims laps for 30-40 minutes. Was that supposed to be her?

I eyed her waves. It had never before occurred to me to feel disturbed by her swimming style. Admittedly, her crawl wasn’t the smoothest but I wish I had her stamina. As I was suspiciously focusing on the waviness of the water, it suddenly dawned on me. I had almost fallen for one of these “naysayers”, one of those people who seem to be unhappy, dissatisfied, or even angry most of the time and cast gloom and disharmony over every situation.

people-who-always-seem-angry

It is easy to walk away when the negative person is a stranger at the pool or even a friend. We can minimize the contact or choose no contact at all. It is so much more challenging when the discontent or angry person is a family member. We might not be able to completely walk out on them; yet, we need to manage our energy around them carefully.

Anger is an interesting vibration; it is—under certain conditions—catching, like any other energy. A person’s big and happy laugh can be catching, so is anger. It all depends on our own frequency at a given time. It’s like two tuning forks. If an A tuning fork, vibrating at 440 Hz, comes close to another A tuning fork, the second A tuning fork begins to vibrate with it. If the A tuning fork comes close to another tuning fork which is tuned to a different frequency, nothing happens.

When someone comes into our field and vibrates at the level of anger, and we have some anger in us as well, we tend to respond like the A tuning fork. We either get angry at the person or angry with the person.

In general it feels much better to be angry with somebody instead of having somebody be angry at us, or us be angry at them. That’s how angry people manage to get others all riled up and on their side. Anger unites two or more people while it destroys the relationship with an outsider who has become the black sheep everybody is angry at. Knowing this, we have a third choice. We can choose to let go of our anger and not participate any longer in someone’s angry behaviour.

you-may-not-be-able-to-control

I have certainly had different moments of frustration in my life that made me feel angry. The more primitive parts of our brain, which have the function to keep us safe and which respond faster than the more advanced parts of our brain, sense danger—or in other words feel attacked—and we instinctively and instantly responded with anger.

Usually, there is something else underneath the anger, for example feeling unappreciated, sad, afraid or vulnerable. Our initial response is automatic. However, if we continue to feel angry beyond that initial response, we have made a choice; the choice to stay in this low vibration. We can get out of that vibration by examining what is really going on for us, making amends and apologizing to others who took the brunt of our anger, but most importantly by ensuring our needs are met in the future and our more vulnerable emotions are taken care of.

The same applies when the anger is brought to us. If we choose to listen to the angry person who is trying to get us to feel as angry as they are, the waves in the pool begin to seem huge. The world suddenly is filled with Thunder Guys and Rude Rachels. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather focus on how fortunate I am to even be swimming in the pool rather than how big the waves are and how rude the rest of the world seems to be.

 

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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The See-Saw Effect – What You Suppress Your Partner Will Express

Have you ever felt surprised by your mood unexpectedly shifting and an emotion suddenly boiling up?

Maybe you felt a bit annoyed about something that happened during the day and when your partner comes home, you share with him or her, and suddenly you feel really angry?

Or you felt a bit concerned about your mother’s health and you talk to your father who is apparently not worried but quite calm. Yet, you suddenly feel really scared and worried about her?

What has happened in those two situations? You felt a bit annoyed respectively a bit worried and suddenly the emotions boiled over into anger and fear. Why? Who pushed the button for that eruption?

John Gray cartoon fear

John Gray: What You Feel You Can Heal

Your partner and your father pushed the button without knowing they did. Both of them where disconnected to their own emotions and had suppressed their anger and their fear. We disown certain energies because we have learned it is “bad” to feel or be a certain way. However, whenever one person is trying to bury an emotion, somebody else will express it for them. The more closely connected these two people are, the more they are able to feel and experience each other’s emotions.

In our example, you were feeling and expressing the anger and fear for both of you, yourself and the partner in your interaction. This happens unconsciously and automatically. Suppressed energy has to go somewhere. A vacuum of energy draws that energy in from somewhere else. John Gray illustrates with great humour how our emotional “tank” work when we are in a relationship:

John Gray cartoon anger

John Gray: What You Feel You Can Heal

Wilma is starting to feel anger but pushes it down because she has learned that nice girls don’t get angry. The more she pushes it down, the more Fred feels it and the anger rises in his side of the tank. All of a sudden, Fred starts to feel irritable and angry. Wilma might try to also repress his feeling of anger by attempting to calm him down. This continues until Fred explodes. If this happens on a regular basis, Fred might even be labelled as an angry person. Both remain clueless why the anger explodes.

When we push down a feeling, it comes up in our partner. John Grey calls this the see-saw effect. One example John Grey gives for the see-saw effect is the emotion of “need”. Fred falls in love with Wilma. He starts to feel his need for her but that feeling frightens him because he might lose her. So he pushes that feeling down, telling himself he does not want to get too committed. The feeling of need goes over to Wilma’s side of the “tank” adding to her own feelings of need. Wilma becomes insecure and desperate, and starts to feel what is commonly called “needy”. Some people go from one partner to another, wondering why their partners all become so “needy” around them. Who is the common denominator? The person who is out of touch with his feelings of need and fear.

A friend of mine who is generally seen as a peaceful and calm person always seems to end up in relationships with angry women. When he first meets them, they are quite pleasant. Yet, the longer their relationship lasts, the more annoyed and angry the women seem to all become. They yell at him more and more frequently, more and more loudly, while he shuts down more and more, unable to feel his own emotions. Eventually, he leaves them because he can’t stand being yelled at anymore. Until he embraces his own anger and learns to acknowledge and express it appropriately, he will always attract somebody who expresses this deeply buried emotion for him.

Are you tired of having all these invisible buttons on your chest that others can just push?

Would you like to stop triggering others and stop being triggered yourself?

Would you like to learn more about how we disown certain energies because we have learned it is “bad” to feel or be a certain way and how we can live more conscious relationships as whole human beings who love themselves and others?

I offer individual coaching sessions and workshops.

Angelika wide picture for blogs

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Upcoming Workshop:

“Shadow Energetics” training with Darryl Gurney, June 18-21, 2015

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“You are mad-sad”

 movie Home 1

Have you ever been mad-sad? Then you are a typical human being as the alien character “Oh” discovers when he makes friends with the human girl, Tip, in the animated movie “Home”.

What is mad-sad? Mad-sad is when you get angry but deep underneath you are sad. Tip is sad that her mother was relocated and separated from her by the aliens when they invaded the planet earth. She is ready to fight the world. Her angry part has stepped forward to protect her vulnerability. When Oh discovers what is underneath her anger, he says with surprise, “You are mad-sad”. What appears to be anger is really sadness and grief for her loss.

 movie Home 2

Sometimes we are mad-sad, other times we are mad-scared. A parent might be mad-scared because their child is failing in school and they are worried about their future, or because their teenager has made a decision which has put them in danger. We might get mad scared when we are in the passenger’s seat of a vehicle and the driver has a different driving style which makes us feel unsafe. How much more successful would our communication be if we could express our fear rather than our anger? Yet, anger is an automatic response triggered by fear. It takes practice to communicate differently.

When we feel overwhelmed, we also sometimes snap faster and respond with anger. Have you ever felt really bogged down by everything you had to do and as you were busy focussing on getting some work done, another person needed something and you replied with impatience or even anger? That could be called mad-stressed.

In all these cases of mad-sad, mad-scared or mad-stressed, the anger serves the purpose to protect the vulnerable part of us deep inside. Anger is a driving force. In Tip’s case, it drives her to search for her mom. Anger also feels better than helplessness and is an intuitive response when we feel unsafe or afraid for somebody else.

 Movie Home Gorg

The evil character of the movie from another alien race, called the Gorg, turns out to be mad-sad, mad-scared and most likely also mad-stressed. Without being aware, Oh’s alien race has stolen his babies, the entire next generation, which means extinction for the Gorg. When Oh is brave enough to face the Gorg, he realizes that this intimidating monster is really deeply vulnerable and just trying to save and protect himself and his family.

Have you heard of people who get “hangry”? When they are hungry they become grouchy or angry. To stay with our pattern, that would be called mad-hungry. There also is mad-tired. Have you ever been so tired and found that your protective defences were coming up when others are interacting with you in this state. My daughter, who works mainly overnight shifts, is not a happy camper when approached in a tired state. She gets mad-tired. Everybody in our family knows she has just reached her limit and her irritation is a feedback for us.

Next time you or somebody else shows up as angry, remember that there is usually some other emotion underneath the anger. That deeper emotion or need has to be addressed. Just as we know we need to feed ourselves when we are hangry, we also need to feed the other emotions or needs.

When we feel angry the question usually is, what exactly is underneath the anger? It might be Sadness? Loneliness? Fear or insecurity? Frustration? Overwhelm?

  • Sadness gives us the feedback that we perceive the loss of a person, an experience or a feeling. What needs to be done to make up for that loss, to replace the experience we have lost?
  • Loneliness gives us the message that we have a healthy longing for companionship and love. How can we enjoy our own company more, love ourselves more and also draw in other people as companions?
  • Fear or insecurity means that our subconscious is convinced something is not safe, and/or that we are not good enough in some way. What beliefs can be changed to alter how we see ourselves and the world?
  • Frustration gives us the feedback that something that we have been doing is not working. What do we need to do differently, so that the frustration does not tip over into depression?
  • Overwhelm is a signal to do a reality check, to limit, to organize, to prioritize, to say “no” and to delegate.

Anger also sometimes gives us the feedback that we perceive something as unfair. The first question is: Is or was it really unfair? If not, change your perspective. If the answer is yes, find a way to make fair if the event is in the present, or let go and forgive if you are angry at something which lies in the past.

movie Home 4

All feelings are good! Our emotions are our guidance system. All feelings and emotions give us feedback on what is going on. They are a call to action. Anger is good. It is like an indicator light that something needs to be looked at, but it also serves as a driving force to make changes.

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching, Forgiveness Work, Shadow Work

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 Wearing Angela's T-shirt

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