The Lies We Tell Ourselves

“Come on, just give him a little cuddle. Oh look, that’s such a lovely picture. Do you want to look?”

They didn’t. They were two young boys, and all they really wanted was to eat their lunch. But then the other mother (because this was two mothers and their boys in a softplay place, and I was eavesdropping) came back from the bathroom and the first mother held up her phone.

“Isn’t that a lovely picture? I asked them to stand next to each other and he just leaned in and gave him a little cuddle. Just like that.”

Of course he didn’t. But spontaneous hug picture is better than posed hug picture, isn’t it? Even if it is the same picture. And even if it is a lie.

We tell ourselves lies all the time. I’m going to start that diet tomorrow. This doesn’t count. I don’t miss that. I am not afraid, it’s just I couldn’t be bothered. They didn’t mean that thing they said to me. I do care about that. I don’t care about this. Big lies, little lies, lies of glitzy glamour adding sparkle to a more boring truth, and foundational untrue lies. Some do more damage than others. Sometimes we don’t call it lies. Sometimes we call it optimism.

I’m not saying lies are bad. On the contrary, I think that if we tried to be brutally honest with ourselves and others all of the time, we would either go crazy, or somebody would get violent. Lies are part of the oil that keeps society moving. I mean, we all know that when that friend asks how you are they are just being polite so you will ask how they are. And even then they aren’t going to tell you about the deep ache within, but rather brag about whatever. We tell lies because we have to. We tell lies to each other, and teach our children to tell lies (“thank you so much for the present”), and eventually, we believe the lies we tell ourselves. Sometimes, in the believing, we make them true.

So if we need lies, or at least an edited version of the truth to keep the people happy, what should we do? If we don’t want to get sucked into some game of social one-upmanshp that will have us believing we are more or less valuable than we actually are?

We just need to be aware that beneath the veneer of the spontaneous cuddle stories, lies a deeper truth. We need to know that so much of what we deal with every day is the illusion of truth. But there’s a real truth that matters.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

You deserve a safe place to lay your head and food in your belly.

You are known.

You are not so broken that you cannot be mended.

Nobody’s perfect.

Time passes. It doesn’t always heal.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

 

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