The Most Common Lie is ‘I’m Fine’
“Our very language has been corrupted.” says Philip Norman in the Daily Mail. “When we say ‘security’, we of course mean ‘insecurity’. When we say adult, as in adult entertainment, we mean infantile smut.”
“Look at the arrant untruths which seep out of our TV sets during every commercial break – the faceless, avaricious international banks really ‘care’ about their small depositors; that constantly price-raising energy companies are only concerned with saving the planet; that factory-produced pies and cakes are really handcrafted by kindly old gentlemen in country villages.” Norman continued.
It has been a culture in itself that resides within society’s crevices. Admittedly, we are all used to each other lying, like it or not. Studies show that the average person tells four likes a day, or 1460 a year for a total of 88000 by the age of 60.
“We are speaking of what are known as white lies.” He goes on saying. “Those small, generally harmless falsehoods which oil the wheels of almost all human relationships and which can spring from good motives as much as bad.”
And the most common lie?
I think I can say this with confidence: we’ve all done it. Maybe you didn’t want anyone else worrying about you or you just didn’t feel like explaining why the blues stopped by that day. We’ve all done it, some more frequent than others.
I have the horrible habit of answering “I’m fine” whenever I had a bad day. And one of my reasons for being “always fine” is I’m afraid of letting people in the little bubble I’ve built for myself. I’d rather make them believe that I was still this jolly sarcastic person who curses like a sailor than the big pile of sad that I try my best to hide. But this is where my mistake lies, I’ve realized.
What’s wrong about not being fine, anyway?
Now, whenever I say that I’m fine (even though I’m not), a particular friend of mine would just get one good look at my face before saying “no, you’re not” to which my face cracks into a painful smile. She had seen through my façade and there’s no point in continuing to lie to her about my current state.
But how did she know?
This might get you thinking. Maybe people around you don’t really believe you’re fine. Because? What your mouth says is not necessarily what your body says.
“Sometimes it takes a pair to admit that.” Jennifer Boykin writes in her article “I’m Fine” and Other Lies That Will Give You a Bump on Your Tongue, commenting after she too admitted that she had also been one of those people that says I’m fine despite being the total opposite.
This reaction is actually a type of Ego Defense Mechanism in Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory called Reaction Formation. It involves expression an id impulse that is opposite to the true motive of the person. “It is believing the opposite”, according to Anna Freud.
Why do people engage in this? Well, Freud explains that people do this in order to hide their feelings, because those feelings create a certain sense of anxiety they are trying to cope with. Although this isn’t the healthier defense mechanisms a person can have.
With this, you do not allow yourself to feel the emotion that is causing you anxiety. And in a sense, you’re downplaying the particular thing that’s causing you anxiety. Therefore, you don’t really get to face and overcome that. You don’t give yourself a chance to.
How about be honest for a change? Don’t be afraid of letting yourself feel. Don’t tell other people (most especially yourself) you’re fine when in fact you’re more than ready to throw yourself off the nearest cliff. It doesn’t make you any less of a person if you’re not fine. It’s just goes to show how strong you are to admit that at the moment you’re not okay.
It just takes a listening ear. And a little bit of courage. Who knows, maybe you’re going to feel much better than fine.
- Kawi, Corazon, et. Al. 2005. Theories of Personality: Psych 24. Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines