When My Father Died, Words Failed Me

Mourning the flawed man who first empowered my voice

During the quiet evenings of my childhood, when the silence was broken only by the sound of crickets, I would walk into my father’s study, inhaling the scents that always defined him — the smell of skin that had been in the sun all day, sweat, and old pipe tobacco, mixed with the malty smell of beer and smoky scent of whiskey, his constant companions. I will never forget the creak of his antique desk chair, the soundtrack of my life. I would walk into the room silently and sit down. He didn’t ask me why I was there; he didn’t need to. The desire to talk was unsaid, but crystal clear.

He was always reading, and when I came in, he would put the book down, and we would start to talk, sometimes for hours. There were moments it was like talking to another version of myself, one who understood all the secrets the world had to offer.

Did you ever have someone who simply understood you and who you understood? No one understood me like my father.

Our communication was almost subliminal. We could finish each other’s sentences and would roll our eyes at the same topics on the news, or at my mother’s unintentional silliness. While we could communicate without a sound, it was our “philosophical discussions” I enjoyed most.

These talks will always be among my favorite memories — of both my father and my childhood. There was nothing we couldn’t talk about.

We discussed Dante, Walt Whitman, and The Lord of the Rings. We discussed capitalism and communism, the meaning of life, men and women, freedom and constraint, the evil nature of power, and most often, his dislike of organized religion. I was empowered, even encouraged, to disagree with something he said. We would be at it for hours until my mother insisted repeatedly that I go to bed.

We had many of the same gifts, but many of the same curses as well, such as strong tendencies toward clinical depression, rage, and anxiety, though it took me years in therapy to see it.

When I was young, I only knew there were certain things we vehemently disagreed on and could never discuss rationally, particularly discrimination, sexism, and above all, racism. He was raised with deeply ingrained hatred for anyone who wasn’t like him, and let his rage and fear take control of the discussion.

There were also other times we couldn’t talk — when he was particularly angry, when he was loud, when even I could taste Jack Daniels on every word he spoke. He could be hateful to certain groups of people, but when I was a kid, it was always clear that any condemnation of women didn’t include me. Being his little girl made me special.

As I grew up, it hurt when I felt my special classification slowly disappearing.

Our talks continued occasionally through my college years, but ended entirely when I moved to California a week before my 25th birthday, an adventure that altered me fundamentally and for which he never forgave me.

During my years in the Golden State, the differences between us became much more pronounced, as I stepped into a larger world and he did not.

When I first arrived in L.A., I realized I’d forgotten my wallet just before I blew a tire, only to have a Latino man give me a free tire, free labor, a kiss on the forehead, and put me back in my car to go home safe and sound. On another occasion, a young African American man stepped between me and a white police officer who was sexually harassing me.

When my introverted nature kept me lonely most days and nights, it was a 6’4 black gay bodybuilder (still one of my best friends in the world) who forced me to go out and have fun.

As my mind opened and my childhood teachings were contradicted by my lived experience, the opposite was happening to my father. As he grew older, the fewer differences he could tolerate. His hearing had never been good, but it got gradually worse over the course of those 16 years, little by little.

I came back from California nearly 5 years ago to find a furiously angry, intolerant, hateful man. We’d known he had prostate cancer for years, but refusing to take his medicine had finally caught up with him. His heavy drinking had also damaged his heart. He was sick, miserable, and enraged.

I’d always been a vocal advocate for women’s rights, but now I was equally so for POC and LGBTQ, causing us to lock horns often. We’d watch the news when Trump was at his worst. I’d insist the man was a racist, a misogynist, he hated people like me, he hated everyone, only for my dad to scream “Good, that’s why like him!”

My father turned his viciousness and sharp tongue on many, but nothing in life hurt as much as when I sensed he now classified me as “the enemy.”

It was impossible to speak to him anymore: I no longer wanted to talk and he couldn’t hear what I said anyway. It seemed profound to me that he lost his hearing entirely the moment we had nothing left to say to each other.

Through all this, I never doubted how fiercely he loved me, or my own veneration of him, however complicated and flawed he may have been, but despite being in the same house every weekend, we almost never spoke.

Ultimately, the end came fast. He had a fainting spell, and after that, he faded. I watched my father become a breathing skeleton as he sickened and lost weight.

The talks I’d once taken for granted were now impossible. As we both processed his imminent death and the emotional wall between us, the two people who could never stop talking to each other suddenly couldn’t get past the rocks in our throats.

I hugged him, told him to take his medicine, and whispered “I love you” to him the last time I saw him alive. I don’t believe he heard me, leaving our last words not unsaid as much as unheard.

Iunderstand now that he was my hero and my dark mirror at the same time. He taught me valuable lessons, like to ignore authority, listen to my own voice, and speak my own truth, which I’ll use the rest of my life.

His most valuable warning however was one he never intended to teach- to protect myself against the triple demons of anger, depression, and anxiety that have always come so naturally to us, to refuse to let them rot me from the inside out, to refuse to let fury at my own mortality become the desire to take the entire world with me, or let alcohol slur my own voice until I don’t recognize the sound.

Saying “I love you” loudly as often as you can is one of the takeaways of this story. But the real message is that it’s not only okay, it’s predestined, for the student to learn more lessons than the master intended to teach. My father taught me the power of having a voice, but I taught myself I can choose how to use it

Why Do We Still Fight Change?

And Why Our Survival Depends on Embracing Transformation

When Darwin talked about survival of the fittest, he didn’t mean survival of the one with the biggest biceps. He didn’t even mean survival of the smartest. He meant survival of those who can adapt to change the easiest.

The caveman who saw a saber tooth tiger at the regular watering hole and said “hey, we have to find a different watering hole” survived to see his progeny enter the gene pool. The guy who said, “this is the place I’m used to, I don’t want to go anywhere else, and the tiger probably doesn’t even exist” …um, didn’t.

Change has been a constant-on this planet anyway-for about 4.5 billion years. You’d think we’d be used to it by now.

But still, to many people, change is more terrifying than a hurricane and our high school yearbook photos combined. We argue over it, lose relationships with people we love over it, we become dangerously stressed and sick over it; we fight wars to stop it, attack our Capitol and kill innocent people to prevent it, we murder millions to keep the status quo.

We get so angry over a single hour’s time change twice a year, we go on Twitter and complain about it for days afterward. We’re willing to fight and die to stop it, even though we know in our heart of hearts, the battle was over before it started.

Why? Like everything having to do with human beings — it’s complicated.

Intellectually we know change is not only absolutely unstoppable, but usually a good thing. When beings evolve, they and their offspring are more likely to survive into the future; nobody evolves backwards. Anthropologists aren’t positive what induced human evolution to begin around 2 million years ago, but since then, humans have evolved regularly, though it’s such a scary concept, about 40% of the population still doesn’t believe in it.

There’s raw power in that sort of change, power too great to be controlled, and for some, too terrible to accept.

The Fear Factor

The power of Covid-19 is far too great to accept for some. Faced with the prospect of a communicable, sometimes fatal, disease with no cure that might kill us or the ones we love, many find it easier to pretend it doesn’t exist.

While we watch all the people refusing to wear masks, or cussing people out, hanging out their car windows, trying to get into stores without a mask, and refusing to get the vaccine, it looks like millions of people are simply stupid and evil.

But we know by now that broad labels and hate are too simple to help us understand nuanced, complex human emotions. There has to be something else going on here and there is: fear.

Accepting the existence of Covid means accepting we are not omnipotent.

It means accepting the existence of a powerful killer that does not recognize good and evil, does not care who we are, how much money we have, or what we do, and over which we have pitifully little control.

It’s the act of accepting our own helplessness, our own submission to transformation, to forces beyond our control. And for those who must believe they’re always in control, or that someone is, fear of power that great is too much to bear.


There’s nothing that makes people hate change more than feeling out of control. Except maybe feeling obsolete. When the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally marched on Charlotte, they carried tiki torches, they wore racist symbols, and they carried Nazi flags.

If we could guess what they chanted while they marched, most would guess something like, “We hate (insert racist epitaph here)”. But they didn’t.

They chanted “we will not be replaced.” I’m sorry, what?

Their real fear is not necessarily of a skintone (understand I am NOT saying they aren’t racist), their real fear is becoming obsolete. There’s a reason old white men tend to gravitate to this movement more than anyone else.

They’re used to a world in which they are in charge. They were raised in a world with certain rules and now everything has changed and they’re afraid they can’t survive in this world. They’re afraid they will fail because they do not understand the rules. They’re afraid they’ll be brushed aside and put out to pasture while other people lead.

Is it possible that all this — racism, misogyny, fighting new ideas with all their might, war, death — could boil down to a serious case of FOMO?

Are they afraid of missing out on this brave new world in which they’re terrified they no longer fit?


Change is like death and taxes — it can’t be avoided. Those who survive and are happy do not fight change, that’s a recipe for destruction. The smart learn to accept it, and the wise learn to embrace it and work with it.

Just like always, there is wisdom to be found in the animals and the plants, and even in inanimate objects.

Animals do not fear their own change, or even their own passing; they’re too busy living. They simply turn into something else, as we all do. The plant may die in the winter, but the decaying roots provide fertilizer to return in the spring. The caterpillar becomes the butterfly. Nature is our ultimate teacher.

Even buildings can teach us a lot. In this country, New York probably knows more about transformation than anywhere else. Because it’s so small, it keeps being built over itself again and again and again. What started out as church, became a residence, became a school, became a business, became a temporary hospital, became an apartment building. Transformation is endless in New York.

It’s even clearer in Europe where you can walk past aqueducts thousands of years old, where I can stand in the very place where the guillotine was set up and thousands were killed in the Terror in France. The marble beneath my feet was slippery with blood not so very long ago. It’s impossible not to think about the past when you’re surrounded by it.

Perhaps the mistake isn’t hating change, the real mistake is getting attached to any of it. Change is constant, and so is transformation. Attachment, to things, to people, to a lifestyle, even to ourselves, is a recipe for heartbreak. While most of us mere humans will never evolve enough to let go of attachment, we can accept our role as an ever-changing one, that fear of change is both pointless and dangerous, and we can understand the only real way to become obsolete is to fight transformation.

I’m Not Afraid I’ll Want to Socialize During the Pandemic. I’m Afraid I’ll Never Want to Again.

I fear when it’s time to “rejoin the world”, some of us may not be up for the reunion

“We’ve hit the pandemic wall”, rings out from TV news and magazine articles, from The AtlanticThe Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed, to thousands of Twitter posts that all declare that we’ve had it. We can’t take it anymore.

Daily, I hear that we’re failing to adjust to the lifestyle changes a pandemic has brought about. We’re lonely, bored, furiously angry, and ready to “rejoin the world.” I get it. It’s no fun to stay away from people we care about. It’s no fun to have gone over a year without a date, brunch with friends, a movie, or even a drink after work in a bar.

And yet for every handful of Americans who are barely holding onto their sanity in insolation, there’s someone like me who is doing just fine, thank you very much. I’m happier and twice as productive as I was before being “forced” into quarantine. Time alone is nothing new to me and never fails to recharge my energy. While we hear a lot-a LOT-from Americans who are suffering in the face of solitary confinement, there are plenty who are enjoying the peace and quiet.

I am. I’m what’s usually termed a “Thinking Introvert” with a side of social anxiety. A “Thinking Introvert” is someone who gets caught up in their own thoughts and imagination. In other words, a daydreamer, who finds her dreams more appealing than reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what’s real and what’s not, it’s just that the world going on inside my head that’s exciting, beautiful, and comforting, is infinitely more enjoyable than getting snickered at and having my left breast grabbed “accidentally” at some club that’s too loud to talk, where a drink is $15.

I prefer to buy my own food, arrange my own Zoom meetings, and put air in my own tires because I just don’t trust anyone else to accomplish things and not screw everything up, a character flaw I’ve developed through years of experience and receipt-keeping. And no, of course that night that I waited in 15-degree weather for a locksmith because we were going out, but you lost your car keys, isn’t what I’m talking about. 😑

As far as not socializing goes, I’m good. But I was good with it long before Covid-19. Too good.

I know my depression and ADD have been made worse by lack of human interaction. According to PTSD.com, lack of social interaction has some nasty side effects such as: low self-esteem, depression, loss of reality, drop in body temperature, decreased ability to learn, decreased empathy, inflammation, weight gain, and reduced resiliency to life’s curveballs. And that’s not even the bad stuff that includes a higher risk of cancer, tumor growth, increased risk of dementia, and a shorter life. The Scientist.com adds, “We are seeing a really growing body of evidence,” says Daisy Fancourt, an epidemiologist in the UK, “that’s showing how isolation and loneliness are linked in with incidence of different types of disease and with premature mortality.” I’m convinced that socializing is necessary for humans to be healthy, but I’m not going to pretend I was a social butterfly, pre-Covid.

For introverts with an unreasonable level of anxiety about the outside world, Covid has been validation that we were right along. For people like me, Covid has been the perfect excuse. There’s a type of smug satisfaction in the fact that Covid is stopping us from doing the things we never wanted to do in the first place.

I may need some tough love to get out of my own head (and a small army to get me out of my apartment) when Covid goes into hibernation. I may also be the only person still wearing a mask in 2024.

The thing is — I was making progress, you see. I was going out more, forcing myself to have conversations with strangers, and I even became a regular at a bar inside a bookstore where the bartender and I would gossip for hours while I nursed a homemade margarita. I was getting somewhere, and now I feel like all my progress has been lost.

At first, I was upset about losing my social life there, at the idea of having to stop going out to eat, and end trying on makeup at Sephora. But after a year of this, I have no real desire to go anywhere, and I don’t see myself developing any.

I’m scared of Covid. I’m scared of getting sick. I’m scared of my mother getting sick. I’m scared of going out and not taking precautions.

But I’m also scared that this pandemic may have pushed people who were dangerously isolated to begin with into complete solitude that won’t flex or bend once it’s safe to go outside and socialize. I’m afraid that when it comes to “rejoining the world”, many of us simply may not be up for the reunion.

When Criticism Feels Like Love

Are you picking toxic partners because of childhood emotional abuse?

I distinctly remember being told, “There’s something really wrong with you.”

I remember being taught my multiplication tables and my father screaming curse words loud enough that the neighbors got concerned when I got one wrong.

I remember hearing “worthless”, “lazy”, and “you never change” hissed at me several times a week.

I remember my father and my grandfather grabbing my arms and squeezing them, calling me fat as a sensitive 16-year-old, and howling with laughter about it.

I never saw my parents hug or kiss each other once in my entire life.

If you were emotionally or verbally abused as a child, the likelihood that you repeat that pattern with romantic partners is higher than you may think. According to Medical News Today, the following qualify as emotional abuse of children by parents:

· yelling, bullying, or threatening a child
· shaming, belittling, or humiliating a child
· telling a child that they are worthless, a mistake, or bad
· giving a child “the silent treatment” as punishment
· limiting signs of affection
· exposing a child to violence against others
· calling a child names
· negatively comparing a child with others

And if you have been emotionally abused, odds are, you aren’t aware of it, and probably don’t care to entertain the notion.

Years ago, I took a test for abused children given to me by one of the most highly regarded therapists in the country.

I passed with flying colors. I couldn’t understand it.

My parents gave me, and still give me, everything I ever wanted. They generally never spanked me and failed to punish me when other people’s parents would have. I was grateful for all the material things they had provided.

It felt disloyal to them to even consider it.

The results of the test made no sense until my therapist and I stopped talking about what I got in my childhood and started talking about what I didn’t get.

Material goods and money were forthcoming, while kind words, encouragement, instilling self-esteem and confidence, or respect for me as a person were almost entirely absent.

It took me two years in therapy to admit I was emotionally and verbally abused.

But it still took many more years for me to realize that for me, love always featured devastating criticism. I’d never known any other kind.

Delusional Dating

I remember distinctly dating my first real boyfriend, and him calling me “stupid” until I cried. He was arrested for cocaine possession and sales the day after I lost my virginity to him.

I remember dating a much older producer for years who called me “fat” every single time we met up. Every sentence he uttered started with, “If you lost weight…” It was finally after a conversation in a restaurant in which he accused me of eating potatoes “only to make him angry” that I couldn’t take it anymore.

I remember dating an actor in L.A. who would tell me how hot the other women were, who he was bedding.

Next, was a relationship with a man with such frighteningly low self-esteem, he called me a bitch if I failed to speak to him on the phone for at least three hours a day, reassuring him.

I didn’t see what was happening for an EMBARRASSINGLY long period of time. I thought those men just happened to turn out to be assholes, or that I was just bad at picking them.

I believed I had no better choices.

It hadn’t occurred to me that when criticism feels like love, kindness seems deviant.

When yelling, cursing, and accusations are a daily occurrence, manners seem laughable.

How to stop the cycle

You CAN prevent yourself from pursuing partners who want to prey on you.

But you have to keep your eyes open and plan ahead of time. I use these rules myself because I still need them.

Set boundaries. BEFORE a first date, write down the behavior you will and will not accept, and what are deal-breakers. You’re much clearer-headed before you meet someone than once hormones start rushing around doing their thing.

Insist on a certain level of respect. If a potential partner crosses the line or doesn’t show you respect, especially if it’s more than once in a short period of time, send them packing. But the truth is, you probably won’t have to. Like abusers of any kind, if you’re not a willing victim, they’ll go look for someone who is.

Speaking of which, build your self-esteem and self-confidence. The best ways to do that are to make and complete goals on a daily basis and keep making them harder to achieve. You’re not viable prey if you believe in yourself. Interestingly enough, several emotional abusers I know had less and less to say to me after I completed my master’s degree. Eventually, they all fell silent, and most disappeared entirely.

Spot red flags. The biggest red flag of narcissism is extreme differences in personality between public and private life. My first boyfriend was a gregarious social butterfly who worked the room; it was how he got me in the first place. In private, he was depressed, sullen, and always angry. My producer ex used to grab me, push me against walls, and jam his hand between my legs at a popular Hollywood movie theater. At home, he would push me away and tell me to leave without laying a finger on me.

If you feel like you’re dating Jekyll and Hyde, he or she may be a narcissist.

Avoid anyone who tries to control your behavior. The number one sign of an abuser is someone who tries to limit or stop your interaction with family, friends, and even your work. They want total control. No, he doesn’t “love you that much”, he wants anyone who might help you out of the picture.

Watch how they treat people “beneath” them in society. Does this person yell at waiters? Throw fits in public over nothing? Cuss people out? Or physically harm ANY living creature for enjoyment? Run.

This is an extraordinarily painful thing to talk or write about, and I debated whether to post it or not for over a week. My own journey with it is far from over. But I hope to help others see a pattern that was extremely difficult for me to spot. You CAN learn to identify abusers long before they become part of your life.

In Defense of Telling the Truth

In a world that becomes more dishonest by the day, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

“Why would you admit that?!”, my mother boomed at me, “She didn’t know until you told her. Now one of us has to take off work to pick you up. You have to smarten up.” The thing the teacher didn’t know was that I hadn’t done my homework, a fact she likely would have overlooked if I hadn’t brought it up, and so I was destined for detention, when I could have simply kept my trap shut and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

It wasn’t the first time my honestly had become a detriment, and it wouldn’t be the last. Growing up, I was brutally honest, foolishly generous, and heartrendingly sensitive. And like many other chronically honest children, at some point, I found myself faced with a decision — adapt to the jungle or get eaten by the lions.

By adapting, and learning to lie well, we gain many things: the ability to fit into society better, to get out of trouble, to shift the blame, to make ourselves feel better, and even to make others feel better. In some ways, it really can feel like “smartening up.” As we get older, we also realize we have the ability to persuade, to sell, to confuse, and to manipulate. We gain much.

What we lose is far more precious.

Why We Lie

Most sociologists agree that lying is part of a child’s personality by age four, and many are mixed on the effect of learning to lie well as a child. Many mental health practitioners consider it a positive survival instinct, and it’s easy to understand why. Why would anyone go to detention if they had another option?

According to the Psychology Today article, “The Truth About Lying”, we receive mixed messages about lying almost from birth. Our families usually tell us as children to be honest, and that lying never pays, but society teaches us a different lesson from a very early age. According to the article, Leonard Saxe, Ph.D., a polygraph expert and professor of psychology at Brandeis University, says, “Lying has long been a part of everyday life. We couldn’t get through the day without being deceptive.”

And as adults the stakes get higher. Why do we lie as adults? According to the National Geographic article “Why We Lie: the Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways”, 22% -the single largest percentage-of lies are told to cover up a misdeed, and 16% of lies are for economic advantage. We may tell ourselves that we’re lying to spare others’ feelings, but according to the study, those lies account for less than 2% of lies told.

Who Lies

Nearly everyone.

It’s no wonder we learn early in our lives that those who tell us lying doesn’t pay may be the biggest fibbers of all. In fact, most of us learn to lie from authority figures, such as parents, bosses, teachers, celebrities, religious leaders, health care providers, and politicians, and from them we learn that lying often pays handsomely.

Famous Fibbers

Some are of course bigger offenders than others, and their lies have national and international ramifications. Charles Ponzi, a 1920s swindler who promised investors a 100% profit in 90 days on postal reply coupons, is so famous for his lies, his scheme is named after him. The 1919 World Series White Sox team, better known as the Black Sox, conspired with gangsters to purposely lose games, then lied about it. The guilty players were banned from baseball for life.

More recently, Andrew Wakefield, the former anti-vaccine advocate, admitted he falsified a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, but not before his lies led to a decrease in vaccinations and an increase in mumps and rubella outbreaks worldwide. Some lies are so well known, they will forever be associated with the fibber in question. History won’t soon forget Nixon’s vow “I am not a crook”, or Bill Clinton’s phrase, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

For most of us, our lies don’t affect the lives of millions of people, but we shouldn’t start patting ourselves on the back for our honesty just yet. According to the Mentalfloss article “60% of People Can’t Go 10 Minutes Without Lying” from 2012, 40% of Americans lie on resumes, while a startling 90% lie on online dating profiles. That’s quite a high percentage for a time before anyone used the term “post-factual America.” Lying seems to become more widespread every day. At all levels of society, lies are often seen as the price of doing business.

Thinking Twice About the “Benefits” of Lying

Given how popular lying is, perhaps the most remarkable part of the National Geographic study is researcher Tim Levine’s quote, “We lie if honesty won’t work.” If lying is so popular, so widespread, and so effective, why do we even bother to try to tell the truth? Why turn to lying only when honesty doesn’t work? And why do we feel guilt and shame when we lie if lying is nothing but a positive survival instinct? While there has been plenty of research on who lies and why, there has been little on why we tell the truth.

As lying becomes more of a staple of our society, and an encouraged practice from the top down, it may seem silly or disadvantageous to practice honesty. But is the concept that lying is necessary the biggest falsehood of all? It may be worth taking the time to examine what lies do to us- spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Enter a book written in 1997, a staple on the shelves of psychologists, therapists, and spiritual teachers everywhere — Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. There have been many books, and a lot of discussion in the past twenty years, about the concept of creating one’s own reality — the idea that through word and deed you draw certain people to you, certain opportunities, and create a good or bad life for yourself depending on your own actions, and even thoughts.

This book was a groundbreaking treatise on the topic. The first of the four agreements is: “Be impeccable with your word.” It sounds archaic, silly even in this modern age. But Don Miguel Ruiz believes so strongly in this tenant, he said, making that one change alone could make a heaven of hell. This can have many different facets to it from telling the truth to refusing to gossip to stopping negative self-talk. It takes courage to speak into truth and love, instead of playing the blame game and spreading negativity.

As Ruiz points out, words have been used to cure and have been used to cause disease, racism, misogyny, hatred, even kill millions and lead countries to war. Before readers dismiss these ideas as new age claptrap, this isn’t first time a spiritual teacher has stressed the importance of “the word.”

In Taoism, the Tao itself is defined as the word, the way, or the path. In Judaism, according to Pslam 33:9, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.” In Buddhism, the words and teachings of Buddha are known as “dharma” and are central to Buddhist life.

In Christianity, the Bible is considered the word of God, and understanding Scripture is central to Christian life. If heaven and earth were made by “the Word”, words seem to be pretty darn important. All of these sources would seem to vindicate Ruiz’s suggestion that our reality is built from our words. Words have been very important for very long time, as has the concept of being as good as your word.

How Health Is Impacted by Lying

We know there are negative emotional and spiritual consequences to lying, but are there negative physical consequences? According to the U.S. News and World Report article “How Lying Affects Your Health”, when one group of people was instructed to tell fewer lies over the course of a week, their health benefited. The study found that “In fact, telling three fewer minor lies a week translated to four fewer mental health complaints, and three fewer physical complaints.”

The health complaints may have been related to all the stress and energy required to keep lies going. A Psychology Today article “Want a Longer Healthier Life? Stop Lying”, suggests lying causes chronic stress, which is responsible for long-term memory loss, depleted fertility, loss of bone density, and can cause Type 2 diabetes, clinical depression, and premature aging. Yikes. (If you want to know what stress does to the body, just look at pictures of presidents before and after they served.) We also lose perhaps our most valuable possession to stress — innocence and love of life, which once lost, can feel impossible to regain.

Catching a Liar

Many may say they only need to lie a few times for a financial benefit or to get out of trouble, and will break the habit, but that’s rarely the case. One lie has to become many to maintain the sense of believability.

This builds a lifelong habit that can not only damage physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, but may also backfire. The majority of liars get caught, even in small lies. According to Career Builder.com, 75% of HR managers easily spot lies on resumes.

There is also a plethora of articles online about how to spot liars, and symptoms of lying include inability to meet another person’s eyes, restlessness, and defensiveness. Guilt over lying often emerges as anger, a tell-tale sign you may be speaking with someone playing loose with the facts, and the louder and more vehemently a person defends themselves, the more likely they’re lying. In fact, over half of liars start their lie with “To be honest…” The ramifications of getting caught in a lie can include everything from being fired to loss of a relationship to ending up in jail.

So Why Do We REALLY Lie?

Science has pinpointed many definitive reasons why we lie, such as to get out of trouble and for financial gain. But if we dig deeper, since we know lying actually rarely pays in the long run, why do we REALLY lie if we know better? We probably lie for the same reason we have that drink or that cheeseburger, even though we know we shouldn’t —

because it seems easier, faster, and more efficient, because we often choose short-term pleasure over long-term evolution and growth. Few people are immune to taking the easy way out occasionally, and lying seems to simply be part of the human condition.

Why Bother Quitting?

If everyone lies, why bother trying to stop? In addition to the mental, physical, and emotional health-related drawbacks to lying, we may want to pause to consider what kind of world we’re creating. If Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, as well as nearly every single spiritual practice on the planet, is to be believed, we create our daily reality or our “heaven or hell” through our own actions, through our own words. If we take a look around us, we see the world we have created. If what we see outside our windows and on our news channels is not the world we want to live in, it may be time to consider a change. What if every person made one small personal change? What rewards might we reap for our efforts? What might the world look like in a month, a year, a decade, or a century?

Breaking the Habit

No habit is broken overnight. When trying to break the lying habit, many tend to become angry at themselves for not instantly being able to kick the inclination. After all, it’s not like smoking where there is an addiction to be broken, right? Actually, there may be. Studies have shown lying can be just addictive as a substance. Lying is the same as any other habit, and just like any other habit, one of the worst choices anyone can make is to expect perfection overnight — it leads to giving up and deciding it was foolish to try in the first place. Just like any other habit, it will take some time to break a habit to lie.

Begin by eliminating three lies per week. Three times in one week, when you are about to speak an untruth, choose to tell the truth instead. Later, write each instance down (no one needs to see this but you). At the end of a month, grant yourself a reward for your hard work. It might be anything from a nice dinner out to a new pair of jeans.

After a month, eliminate three more lies per week. At this point in kicking the habit, you will probably be far more honest than most people around you. Write down how you feel about yourself. Proud? Hopeful? Then write down how your life has changed, what new people have come into your life, and what opportunities have come your way. Documenting your new life is important, and so is giving yourself a pat on the back for making a change many cannot.

While lying may provide some temporary advantages, long-term growth comes from choosing to be honest and compassionate with our words. In a world that becomes more dishonest by the day, practicing honesty is both an act of rebellion and a force for good.

The Shore of this Uncharted

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