Why do I Lie?
Thank you so much for asking this question and reaching out for help. You are definitely not alone when it comes to this problem. In your question, you indicated that you lie in order to avoid conflict, possibly even perceived conflict. As Dr. Marks indicates, pathological lying is not a mental disorder but is identified as a behavioral disturbance. She explains that there is a difference between normal lying, prolific lying and pathological lying. She proceeds to define normal lying as the lying we engage in to spare another person’s feelings or getting out of something minor. Normal lying causes no or very little problems in a person's life. In contrast, pathological lying is a compulsive behavior that has no clear motive. On the other hand, prolific lying is defined as being deceptive for a purpose and leads to more complications in work, relationships and other areas of your life. At this point, it is important for you to take a moment and ask yourself if you are a person who is lying compulsively with no clear motive (pathologically lying) or if your lying is potentially prolific because your motive is to avoid being held accountable or to avoid engaging in any type of conflict.
Whether you identify as a prolific or pathological liar there are a few steps you can implement in order to change your behavior. First step, as always, is to admit that you have a problem. By reaching out for answers to your question you obviously understand that lying is a problem for you and may be leading to more complications in your life. The next step is to be accountable to other people in your life. You can choose one accountability partner or admit to everyone in your life that you are struggling with controlling a lying habit and need their help to change this behavior. Of course, entering therapy to address the underlying causes of your lying as well as help keep you accountable will aid in creating change. Follow the creating accountability step with developing a list of consequences you have experienced and will experience if you continue to engage in habitual lying. Write this list and post this list somewhere you see every morning and every night. By presenting yourself with this list twice a day you will be reminding yourself of the negative outcomes that will occur if you choose to lie that day. Journal about your progress each day. Identify where you feel you faltered and where you feel you succeeded. Create a goal to focus on the next day that will help you reduce your lying. Accountability is key - keep yourself accountable while also inviting others to hold you accountable. Commit to change every day while also acknowledging it will take time, struggles but, eventually, with attention and commitment to change you will succeed.