Almost everyone dislikes being lied to, accompanied by a distaste for the person doing the lying. We also like the truth. We think lying is something others do, but certainly not us. And yet, we all lie in different ways, even if we don’t define what we do as lying. Here are some important ways we all lie, deleting information, staying silent, not knowing what our truth really is, and more; understanding how we don’t tell the truth are important areas for our growth.
Ones don’t think they lie; lying violates their value system and conflicts with their self-concept of being an honest person. However, Ones also value politeness, and in their efforts to be polite, Ones may not share the truth or the whole truth. Is being polite worth the price of not being entirely honest? In addition, the One defense mechanism of reaction formation also generates a less-than fully honest response. When Ones feel deeply angry or hurt, they may talk or act the exact opposite of what they truly feel and not even realize they are doing so.
Twos think of themselves as good in every way, so lying doesn’t align with this sense of themselves. In addition, when Twos realize they have done something that is not good such as lying, they become highly self-recriminating and their self-worth suffers. For twos, recognizing that they have lied is the first step; the most important culprit is the Twos’ defense mechanism of repression or holding down feelings until they build up and explode. When Twos don’t know what they feel, they also don’t recognize what they truly think, and the resultant behavior will not be aligned with the most honest response.
Threes truly detest deception or lying in others, yet they are adept at creating what is, in their view, a positive persona and then masking whatever feelings, thoughts and behaviors do not conform to or confirm that image. Masked behavior is not truthful behavior. Truth-telling is being honest with yourself and others about what you think, feel and what you have done. This can be challenging, but it is also crucial for growth.
Fours believe they are their feelings, but the truth of their real feelings lies beneath their more obvious ones. To uncover the truth, Fours must go even deeper into themselves and their feelings. In addition, Fours often distort – and usually to their detriment – what they hear from others. Neutral or negative feedback sounds much more negative than was intended. Positive feedback gets ignored, minimized, or can even be interpreted as something negative. Try paraphrasing to others what you’ve just heard them say. You might be surprised.
Fives may be reasonably truthful internally and, yet, they are reluctant to be forthcoming with others unless they know them well and trust them. This trusted group, of course, includes very few people. And silence can be a form of not being truthful. In addition, their defense mechanism of isolation – also called compartmentalization – involves separating parts of themselves, such as behavior from thoughts, feelings from behavior, and thoughts from feelings. These forms of separation can lead to self-deception that involves lying to oneself about oneself.
Sixes want to think of themselves as truthful and cannot tolerate lying from others, but Sixes can be prone to unconscious lying. For example, Sixes tend to idealize those they love or value, as well as those with whom they need to have a good relationship. Idealization is based on attending to positive qualities, even making them more than they are, and ignoring qualities that do not conform to the idealized image. What an interesting form of not being truthful!
Sevens are known to live in their dreams that involve an embellished reality. Opportunities always seem better than they really are. All ideas, however implausible, are possible and enhanced. Some people seem much better than they truly are. These are all forms of not seeing reality as it is. In addition, the Sevens’ defense mechanism of rationalization – specifically, reframing something negative into something positive – always involves some deletion of the truth. For example, reframing negates personal responsibility, impact on self and others, and more.
Eights perceive themselves as the biggest and best truth tellers and, as a result, they have trouble perceiving themselves as lying. And yet, they do and we all do. Eights have no problem displaying their anger, but they rarely share when they feel sad, anxious or vulnerable unless they really know and trust someone. This non-disclosure is a form of lying. Eights can also lie when their defense mechanism of denial starts operating, whereby they simply push the delete button on something, someone, or inner states they do not want to acknowledge. Denial, of course, is a form of not acknowledging the whole truth.
Nines like the truth and have a good sense of it, yet their tendency to diffuse their attention about what matters, what they are thinking, observing, and feeling are all forms of fuzzing over the truth. And fuzzed over truths become lies, even if this was the not the intention of the fuzz! What do you feel? What do you want? What do you think? These are the questions!
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. firstname.lastname@example.org