How to break the habit of lying (to yourself) | Jeff Tatarchuk | TEDxWaterStreet
“I HATE that I’m such a lying lonely loser” I said that to myself as I was in the car driving the 4 hours back from a trip to Vegas.
HOW THE STORY STARTED
At that very moment, the pain I had been avoiding by lying, was instantly hitting me full force when the lie I told was found out.
You see… about 9 months earlier ONE Lie started a cycle of Lying, Loneliness, and Losing in my life.
I had been married for nearly 8 years, when my wife told me out of the blue that she didn’t love me anymore.
We then jumped into therapy to figure out what was going on… and the very first question the counselor asked was, “Are either one of you cheating? Because it’s easier to work it out if you admit it now, than if it’s found out later” We both said no, and the therapist had no reason to believe either one of us were lying, but I still had my suspicions..
A few weeks later… I ended up waiting until my wife fell asleep and I couldn’t handle the suspicion anymore… I went through her phone… and there it was… evidence of the affair….
Feeling hurt and Betrayed, I told her I wanted a divorce.
I felt so unworthy and so alone. So I ran.
Raise Your Hand if You’ve Ever Found Out someone you cared about Lied to you…. ?? **Hand raised**
(pause and look around, acknowledge the hands)
Yes, SO you can imagine how I felt.
I left that relationship. My 8 year marriage… broken and alone.
My hit of loneliness quickly led to dating apps to fill the time.
And soon I met someone where 2 dates turned into 4 and what started out as fun… began to turn into a relationship.
There was just *ONE* tiny problem.
When we met, I told her that I was divorced.
In MY MIND I was divorced.
But **technically** I was still married.
When we started dating we agreed, “No Expectations”… we didn’t see this relationship going anywhere… we traveled too much to make it work… or so we thought… so I didn’t really think that the fact I was still married would even matter. But as we progressed and I started to really like her more and more, I thought if she knew the truth, she would leave.
One night when *I* was asleep, (she must have had her suspicions) she went through my phone and found texts between my ex and I and she realized the divorce paperwork hadn’t even started yet.
The next day… She tearfully asked me to tell her the truth.
I couldn’t believe it.
One of the main reasons I left my ex was not because she cheated… but because she was LYING to me…
And here I was now caught in doing the SAME THING to someone that *I* cared about. I HATED it and I Hated myself for doing it.
That plagued me on the long drive back to California.
LYING: WHY DO WE LIE
So… Why DO we lie?
The truth is: We are ALL Liars
I am a liar… You are a liar.
But NO ONE wants to admit it.
It’s really uncomfortable.
Watch… turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself… say, ‘Hi, my name is (blank)… and I AM A LIAR” (slide)
It’s super uncomfortable, right?!
Nobody wants to admit they are a liar.
If someone tells a lie in the forest and no one is around to hear it … is it still a lie?
The funny thing is, no one had to teach us to lie.
It comes natural (laughs)
In fact, Research shows that lying is actually a part of the developmental process.
It’s a sign of intelligence. And about the age of 2 we start to realize we CAN lie to manipulate outcomes based on what we want or need.
You know this if you have been around 2 year old.
But lying doesn’t stop there.
It goes from lying because you don’t want to get in trouble for eating all the cookies in the cookie jar… to lying on a homework assignment… or lying on a job resume so you can get the job you want…
We lie to get what we want or to avoid pain.
When we DO get the thing we want, based on a lie, we risk even more pain and loss if the lie is found out.
You don’t have to teach a child to lie…
But you do have to teach honesty & integrity…
And why is integrity so important?
Integrity is the currency exchanged in a relationship.
When you lose that integrity you lose your currency…
And it hinders you from being able to mutually invest in your relationships. It also causes you to lose trust with yourself.
One of the reasons I lied was to avoid being lonely.
The problem with lying to fill a void of loneliness is
1. You stay lonely because people like the facade and not you, and you’re afraid you wouldn’t be liked if they knew the real you
2. If they find out you were lying, you automatically break trust and integrity and lose the relationship (currency ?)
So I not only had a loneliness problem
I had an integrity problem that was keeping me lonely
When there’s no integrity with yourself
You feel like a loser
You’re in a vicious cycle of Lying, Loneliness and Losing.
As I drove away from my girlfriend after being found out.
I dove headfirst into self-development to try and figure out how to get out of this cycle and not lose what was important to me.
While listening to an audiobook had a bit of an epiphany
Being a LOSER is simply a collection of bad habits.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly I could see a break in the clouds. There was hope. How was I going to stop this cycle of losing?
I was going to have to face and break my bad habits.
I co-own a business in WY and we have buffalo there.
I learned from this really old PBS show that when buffalo see a storm coming up over the Rockies, they face into it and run straight at the damn thing.
Now, that sounds counter intuitive, but when you run towards a storm you’ll pass through it much faster.
Compare that to the Cow, who runs away from the storm and ends up staying in it for longer. Driving away, I was a being COW-ard (SLIDE start with COW then ard)
I needed to be the Buffalo.
STEPS IN BEING THE BUFFALO
I concluded there are 3 steps to breaking the cycle of lying, loneliness, and losing based on Being the Buffalo
3. Facing Hardship Head-on
When you own up to being a liar, you have to confront some hard truths about yourself. And that starts with breaking down your decision making.
And it’s hard at first, because remember, we’re all the heroes in our own stories. We don’t want to admit that we make bad choices.
If you want to break the cycle, you need to cultivate your self-awareness and be honest with yourself. Before you lie or think you’re going to lie, stop and ask yourself.
How do I feel?
Am I avoiding something?
What am I afraid of?
Why do I want to change the outcome of this event?
Let’s say your boss asks why you’re late for work.
How do you feel?
Embarrassed, flustered, caught-off-guard.
Am I avoiding something?
Yep, discipline. A reprimand, a warning. Just like when you were a kid.
What am I afraid of?
Well what’s the worst that can happen? You’re an adult in a working environment. Are they going to fire you? Demote you?
Is losing your integrity worth the lie?
Mr. Smith, I’m late because my stupid head couldn’t wake up this morning.
When you’ve got some time to yourself, think about your strengths and weaknesses.
Are you afraid that somebody will point out your weakness or insecurity? Thus having to position yourself as someone you are not.
Don’t run from your weaknesses, lean into them.
2. Take Ownership
Those weaknesses you discovered, own it!
So you aren’t the smartest in the class or the fastest runner.
Guaranteed there are other gifts you have.
Owning your weaknesses doesn’t make you weak, it actually makes you strong.
Think about your past mistakes.
What lessons can you learn?
Own the choices you made in the past and be willing to take responsibility for the consequences of those choices.
Ownership is a powerful tool that creates integrity within yourself.
3. And lastly, Face hard things head on.
Don’t lie and make the storm bigger, run right into the eye of the storm. Have courage.
Don’t run away or be cow-ardly.
WHAT’S THE PAYOFF FOR BEING THE BUFFALO OR THE RESULT OF STAYING THE SAME
Is being a Buffalo easy?
But the pain and shame I was feeling after getting caught in my lie was much worse than the pain I would have felt if I faced my fears, anguish and loneliness head on.
We have a choice:
Remain where we are
Stuck on the cycle of lying, loneliness and losing
You can create peace
You can create self-trust and confidence
You get to have what you want and keep it
And most of all,
you have the integrity to be the true you.
I have to level with you, none of these 3 steps will work if you don’t go ALL IN 100% willing to lose it all, not just some of it:
100% honesty, no half truths
100% action on the hard things, you can’t half-ass this
You need to share everything
With the risk of losing everything
No matter the outcome.
And I know it might sound scary right now .
Maybe you’re sitting there right now, thinking about the lie you’re telling yourself Or the lie you’re telling someone else
And maybe you’re just tired.
Tired of being who you’re not.
Tired of covering your tracks.
Tired of hurting people.
Storms are inevitable.
People will still lie.
And storms will happen.
But we go through our whole lives thinking we need to make more lies and stay in the storm longer — if we just keep lying, it’ll go away eventually, right?
Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t.
Be honest with yourselves.
Identify that pain that is the biggest motivator for your lies.
Sometimes you have to do this very publicly
And with zero attachment to outcomes
Because the truth about truth is that when we own it
Things start to change.
I know from experience…
Remember the girl I told you about?
Well after she busted me, I knew it was time to choose.
Was I gonna keep being a liar?
Or was I ready to be honest — with myself and her?
So I went all in… 100%
Radical releasing of outcomes. Radical transparency. Radical action.
It was vulnerable, humbling, terrifying.
It was also healing.
I finally felt free.
Free to own my mistakes.
Free to love. Free to forgive.
Free to own who I am, shadows and all.
And she felt free to choose me…or not.
But lucky for me, she DID choose me.
Two years later, she continues to choose me. And I chose her.
BUT Winning doesn’t even mean you get the girl
Winning to me, was having the courage to have integrity with myself.
These days when I look in the mirror, I no longer see a lying, lonely, loser who loses everything.
Instead, I see:
A person of value
A person with flaws
A person who shows up anyway
A person who is called to invite others,
People like you,
On this journey of getting real with yourself,
So you can be real with others.
More about TEDxWaterStreet
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This talk was given at a TEDxWaterStreet event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
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