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To Lie or Not to Lie, Is That the Question?

Sometimes I do programs on Enneagram type and lying, but more often I mention it during my sessions and the reason lying most often arises as an issue in relationship to Threes and Eights. Here’s why.

Because “deceit” is the passion (repeated, recycled, emotional habit) for Threes, many misunderstand this to mean that Threes are the “lying-type,” and the rest of us are home free. Not so fast and not so easy. While it might be convenient for us to project our own lying onto Threes, we actually all lie quite often, even without realizing we are doing so. And Threes get the blame and shame for lying when their deceit is really more about believing they are the person they want us to think of them as being. This involves some deletions, additions, and shadings of facts, but we all do this at times, although not always to protect our self-image.

Where Eights come into the story is that Eights perceive themselves as never lying, always being truthful. So I challenge Eights to share how they lie rather than to act as if they never do. It’s always the others who do this. Or is it?

Lying Exercise
Here’s an exercise you can do yourself or you can facilitate this when you teach by dividing people into type groups.

Round 1 Exercise | What is “lying?”
What do you mean by “lying?” How does your particular definition of “lying” relate to your enneatype?
Note | if doing this activity in type groups, do brief reports | if doing this by yourself, ask a friend who knows his or her type to tell you what ”lying” means from that type perspective.

Round 2 Exercise | How do I lie?
Write down (or share with a partner, share in a type group) as many answers to this question as you can. Then consider how the precise ways in which we lie are related to our types. Doing this will open up your mind and really get you to understand how you really could be far more truthful in the world.

Here’s a variety of ways we lie and this is just a start:
stating something we know is false | not stating something we know is true | blaming someone else | acting like we care when we don’t | acting like we don’t care when we do | deleting information | denying something we actually did | saying we will do something but with no follow-through | thinking we are being truthful when, in fact, we are merely being unconscious about the truth | embellishing | minimizing | not acknowledging our own strengths | acting like we don’t know something when we do

Here are all the reasons I do not believe in lying, starting with what I learned at a young age, making my way to the present:

If we lie, we will get caught (eventually)!
I was never good at even a small un-truth from the earliest age, so I had to rely on truth or lying by silence. When we knowingly lie, it takes a toll on us (unless we are sociopaths). When we get caught, relationships erode. Really, neither is worth the lie.

If we lie, we have to remember our lie as our cover story for a later date. This takes too much energy.
I have a friend, a good person of integrity, yet he believes that his business is anybody else’s business. And so, when pressured by others, he will create a story, a “web” as he calls it to keep them away from his world. Most of these stories are harmless in a sense, but he spends so much time and energy having to remember the story and the web he has spun. And the lack of transparency creates an invisible barrier in his relationships with others.

For me, it is simply easier to tell the true story so I do not have to remember a false one. That way, there is only one story to recall!

Lying is spiritually toxic.
In the 1980s and 90s, my meditation teacher was keen on not lying, in addition to emphasizing the importance of mediation. He convinced all of us there during that period that lying was spiritually toxic. He proposed that the more spiritual work we did, the more aware and conscious we’d be, and, therefore, the less the lying. The reasoning was that the more we were aware, we would not lie from lack of awareness of the truth. In addition, we would perceive (consciously and unconsciously) less and less need to lie. More truth, less to protect, why bother?

So think about lying for yourself. What is it? How do you do it? What are the consequences?

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