What Happens to the Brain When We Lie

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us will squirm a little, but may also lie a little, if someone asks us a difficult question such as how they look in a new outfit. No one really wants to honestly say the outfit is a disaster, or it makes the person look huge. So, some glib comment like, “It’s just your color” comes to the rescue in what we might call a “white lie.”

But what happens if we find ourselves telling a real lie about something? All sorts of circumstances may have happened to cause us to lie, but we are still stuck with the reality of it, and the guilty feelings.

Lying Changes the Brain

Now, Scientific American is telling us what else happens when we lie. They say a new study has found lying gets easier for humans the more they lie, because lying changes the brain!

Nature Neuroscience reported a study of the amygdala, the part of the brain dealing with emotional responses. The researchers said the amygdala shows up less and less, as we lie more and more. Essentially, our guilt feelings tend to weaken and shrink.

Also lies that helped the person telling the lie may draw even less response from the amygdala. Other researchers point out how much we dislike thinking of ourselves as liars.

I have seen people do this, inventing elaborate justifications explaining why lying was the only way to handle a difficult situation. In the long run, it would have been better to just avoid lying in the first place.

Pitfalls of Lying

The fact that there seems to be less emotional response with repeat lies reinforces the statement, “once a liar always a liar.” If you think about it, the people you know who lie often fit that pattern. In work situations, it often becomes quickly known who can be counted on to tell it as it is, and who will waffle or outright lie when push comes to shove.

But the real issue of what lies do to relationships may be the reason we should all understand the process and make every effort to not lie.  Essentially, lies can turn a relationship into quicksand very quickly. If someone cannot believe you, why would they want to invest time and effort in building a relationship only to have it sabotaged by lying?

So if you are tempted to lie, consider what you might be doing to relationships that you value. Or, if you realize someone is lying to you, you may want to question how much that relationship is really worth.

It’s also important to carry this over into our dealings with our kids, making the point early that lies never work. 

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic. 

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