How to Spot a Liar? Stop Trying.

How to Spot a Liar. 10 ways to tell if someone is lying based on psychology, neuroscience, or the latest social science paper of the week. We see these lists all the time. We want to be super sleuths or at least have Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth to figure it all out. We spend inordinate amounts of time being upset about this too.

Yes, in science fiction, everyone would tell the truth, or we could make them, or at the very least we could spot the fake by the direction their eyes move or if they fidget a certain way.

And why? Why are we so consumed with knowing or proving? Why are we so offended when people lie to us? Do we expect that everyone will tell the truth all of the time? Do we think that we tell the truth all of the time?

The truth is – that everyone lies. They know this based on psychological research – they even include that in psychological evaluation assessments. Let’s not be delusional. Everyone lies – even you, also me.

When it happens to us, or at least when we find out about it, we are offended. How disrespectful! How rude! How dare you! Mega energy goes into this indignation. And it’s a waste.

Here it is. It’s not about you. Why people lie generally has nothing to do with you.

People lie because of lack of character or lack of courage. 

People with lack of character make lying a pathological amusement park. They lie to serve their needs. To hide what they are doing that wouldn’t be approved of by the masses, or by anyone. To get away with what would otherwise cause disconnections in their relationships. To manipulate to get what they want on some level.

They lack the character to be upfront and bold in however they choose to live their life and they lie, regularly, so that they get what they want without consequence.

If they lie to you, it’s not about you. It’s about them. You are inconsequential. Sure, they don’t respect you – but it’s not personal. They don’t respect anyone. They likely don’t respect themselves. Let it go. Learn what you can, do what you need to do yourself to prevent it from recurring, and move on. Quickly – and far away.

Don’t waste time overthinking, analyzing, or being wounded. This has nothing to do with you.

People that lie from  lack of courage, not as a character flaw, but from places of insecurity or fear still will lie to you, but they will do it with different intentions. They are trying to protect themselves. The fear usually stems from earlier experiences where the consequences for telling the truth outweighed the consequences of lying.

They lie because they are afraid you will hurt them, reject them, abuse them. They haven’t done their own work on whatever set these conditions up for them in their nervous system, but they aren’t out to hurt you, they are trying to protect themselves from damage.

Again, it isn’t about you. These people might actually respect you, but they are held hostage by past experiences and attachment disruptions that make them gloss things over or hide things just in case you won’t receive their authentic selves with grace, respect, and acceptance.

This doesn’t mean you should tolerate chronic lying or any, depending on what the lie is. There still are consequences when people break your trust in this way. But you can reduce your own level of activation in this area by not taking it personally and by discerning whether the lie is coming from lack of character or lack of courage.

Knowing the intention helps you decide what boundaries to set, what action take. That’s your only responsibility here. Not to be insulted or offended by the act because that just makes you feel angry, or sad – but to decide how to better your life and the quality of the people in it.

You can’t control whether someone is going to lie to you or not. Realize that everyone does it here and there. Notice the people that do it pathologically – without conscience, and are able to rationalize it to serve their own minimal sense of conscience or morality. Extradite them from your life permanently.

For the others. Decide if the rest of the person is worth offering some grace. If they are, have a conversation with them about this. You can address this without needing to try and fix it. Don’t try and fix it – it’s not your work to do.

Be the kind of person that is worthy of the truth. 

Set your boundaries accordingly. 

Be careful about pointing out in others, what you also do yourself. 

Don’t have unrealistic expectations about people. 

Don’t take things personally. It’s information about them, not you. It tells you who you can trust, who you can’t.

Don’t waste your energy trying to spot a liar, figure people out, or be offended. Learn to move on quickly and focus on investing your efforts elsewhere.