Saturday, November 28, 2020

Hey, What’s Up With the Lying?

Ok, so you have an eating disorder.  Everyday you are consumed with food thoughts, numbers, calories, and negative thinking.  On top of this you have developed a habit of lying to others about small, medium, and big things.  Even some things that are important, like your health.  Do you like to lie?  No.  Most people don’t want to be known as a compulsive liar.  Most people want others to view them as sincere and reliable and not the opposite.

Why do I lie so much?

Take a few moments to really look at this question.  Believe it or not, you are getting something positive out of lying.  Maybe you feel that:

  • Instantly you may get a “high” from exaggerating a story or giving it the spin that you want it to have.
  • Instantly you can get approval from others by telling them what they want to hear instead of what the truth really is.
  • Instantly you can get out of something.  At least temporarily.
  • Instantly you can get your therapist, parent, husband, or friend off your back by telling them what they want to hear.
  • Instantly you may even fool yourself into believing this lie.

What are the down sides to lying?

There are plenty of down sides to lying.

First:  Eventually you WILL get caught in a lie.  Then the trust level with others will go way, way down.  You may be able to get away with it for awhile, but things will catch up with you.  By lying to different people your story may change. You may tell your therapist one version, your Mom something else, and your BFF an entirely different version.  Then, you will probably forget who you told what to and the entire thing will turn into a huge giant mess.

Second: Many people start feeling badly about their lying.  The big “G” word comes into play.  Guilt.  Deep down inside you don’t want to hurt your spouse but you  convince yourself that this one tiny, little lie can’t really hurt anyone.  Your spouse finds out and is very angry, hurt and left speechless.  You  feel badly, the negative thinking starts, and then you go and act on your eating disorder (e/d) symptoms.  Basically what ends up happening is the few hours of relief you got, because you answered a question with a lie, caught up with you and now you feel ten times worse than you did before you lied.

Third: An eating disorder isn’t just a mental illness, it also affects you physically.    If you are lying about treatment or physical complications you may be putting yourself in great danger.  Your body is telling you something when it experiences pain or strange things start happening and you experience unusual reactions like being lightheaded, an increase in forgetfulness, or having “Charlie Horse” or muscle locks in your calves or hands.  If you are experiencing strange physical symptoms you need to let someone else know immediately.  Remember,  eating disorders are dangerous and can be deadly.

Will I ever stop lying?

YES!  You can stop lying but it will take work and you will need to start being more honest to one person in particular.  YOURSELF!  Before you answer anyone ask yourself a few questions.  Is this answer the truth?  Is it the whole truth?  If you feel caught on the spot tell your friend you can’t answer the question right now or that you need a few moments to think about it.  This will give you time to think about how you want to answer their question.

Also, remember that being honest is a part of being recovered from an eating disorder.  Being recovered isn’t just eliminating acting on your symptoms or being a different size.  Being recovered is also learning how to face things and handle them honestly without running away or numbing yourself.

How will YOU work on eliminating lying this week?


Sharon R Peterson, LCSW-C

Sharon is Founding Director of Eating Disorder Network of Maryland (EDN Maryland) and she has been an outpatient therapist providing individual, family, and group therapy since 1995.  She is also a faculty member for The Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training & Education, Inc (IAPTE) and teaches CEU classes for professionals about eating disorders and other mental health issues.

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