Bella DePaulo, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, noted (in a New York Times Maureen Dowd column May 23, 2010) that “…lies are like wishes. So when you wish you were a certain kind of person that you know you’re not, and maybe you’re not willing to do what it would take to become that person, or can’t go back, then it becomes very tempting to lie.”
We are so human that it is hard sometimes not “go with the misinformation flow” because as DePaulo notes, “Your lies often reveal who you wish you were.”
Dowd’s article refers to Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Attorney General, with an incredibly impressive resume, who allegedly misrepresented his armed service participation in Vietnam. He is in the public eye and scrutinized by the media. You and I are mostly scrutinized by ourselves. In the past, I have made the mistake of letting an exaggeration go on. It was wishful thinking and not being honest first of all with myself. I’ve learned from it.
It is liberating to understand the psychology behind it and I believe useful to remind ourselves that self accountability is based on the honesty of asking ourselves what and how we can move things forward and not just wishing we could.