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“To Thine ownself Be True”

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius’s shared this counsel with his son, Laertes, who was departing on a journey. It is wise counsel to us all. As I follow the growing research in medical sciences, it becomes more apparent that dishonesty, with ourselves and with others, has a greater impact on our own health.

In neuroscience, it is documented that even the very organization and process of the changing brain is intimately connected to the truths and falsehood we personally embrace.

Lies stem from fears. It orbits a deeply rooted insecurity created from the dialogue we share with ourselves. The false statements such as “I am worthless” or ” I am not important” are first planted by primary support authorities when we were children, and they reside close to the center or at the seat of the pathology. Over time, we coat this falsehood by adding layers to this idea, with what we believe to be “our evidence”, from how we are treated, how others react to us or how we expect others to devalue us.
This leads us to a desperate course of feeling ‘unworthy’ to have our needs and desires met in life. In some desperate attempt, we end up snatching any available opportunities to “feel a moment of pleasure” at the expense of honest and just means.

We seek ways to meet our immediate needs like a homeless child, stealing candy from a candy store because the cost is beyond our resources. Under the judgments of many in our life, we often develop strategies to acquire the pleasures we desire, with the least measure of punishment that is attached to wrong actions. Over the course of years, we will either learn to look inward and unravel the lies that bind us, or we will continue our journey to become more skillful in obtaining what is not ours, by whatever means necessary. When truth is not the object, we will end up in a place of bitterness toward others who we feel are passing judgments on us; especially those “righteous people” who dare to ‘ look down on me’. When the lies of our life have been neglected they often spread through our own habits of life in a deceptive cycle. We steal and rationalize. We injure and redirect blame.

When we do not challenge the lies we learned to embrace in youth, it will always catch up with us later in some form of regret. We are funny that way. Sometimes we think it is better to go on living with our lies, despite the snowball of growing consequences than to just own it and confront them as needed. Just because we have injuries from our past, it does not make our distorted “view of self” true. We just make it true. We live to fulfill it in full without considering its impact.  Well, I was not planning to dissect this pathology of our mindset, but there it is.

Recently, I have read articles about uncovering lies. One way in which we are not even conscious is how it tends to affect the way we write. See the following.

Lying affects the way we write

..[a computer study of our handwriting] shows that the system can identify when participants have written the truth and when they have lied: For example, the pressure exerted on the page when the participants were writing false symptoms was greater than when they were writing about their true medical condition. The regularity of the strokes when writing a lie, reflected in the height and width of the letters, was significantly different from the regularity of the strokes when writing the truth.

Differences in duration, space and pressure were also found in false writing. The researchers were also able to divide the types of handwriting into more distinct profiles (very small or large handwriting, etc.) and to find other more substantial differences associated with each writing profile.

According to the researchers, when a person writes something false, a cognitive load is created in the brain and this load creates competing demands for resources in the brain, such that operations that we usually perform automatically, like writing, are affected. They added that the current study found that false medical information in “laboratory
conditions” creates a cognitive load that enables the computer system to identify changes in handwriting, and it can be assumed that in a natural situation, together with the need to lie to the doctor, the cognitive load would be even greater.

Here is an interesting article on clues about lying.

Lying: The Tell-Tale Signs

TV shows and folk wisdom have suggested commonly held beliefs for spotting liars, but the truth is they’re not always accurate.

  • A liar will tend to give too much information and they often struggle to repeat their original performance if asked to recount the events in the opposite order.
  • Liars tend to avoid “I” statements and use third-person pronouns like “he” and “she” instead.
  • People who are speaking honestly will maintain eye contact for about 60 percent of a conversation. When one lies, they work at keeping eye contact to appear honest. Therefore, a liar will often engage in more eye contact without much blinking.
  • Liars will subconsciously point their feet towards the exit of the room.
    A smile often surfaces from the liar when they think they’ve successfully deceived you. Often they nod their head while denying or shake their head while agreeing.

Let us agree to make it a regular habit to review our “self-talk” the next time we find our words are not ringing quite true. Our integrity and health depend on it.


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