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Those of us in the West believe that we’re free to make our own decisions and live our own lives, but this isn’t always the case. Many people and institutions want something from us: our money, power and votes; even control over our bodies, and they’ll resort to lying in order to achieve their goals.
Many liars are successful, but that’s usually because we make it easy for them. As intelligent, experienced adults, it shouldn’t be so easy for others to fool us, but interestingly, in this era of unlimited access to information and instant global communication, we’re still too gullible.Perhaps our infatuation with celebrity is responsible for our being charmed by attractive, charismatic liars. Perhaps our educational system isn’t spending enough time teaching us how to be critical thinkers.
Whatever the reason, our willingness to be deceived enables these individuals to steal our hard-earned money, misinform us about our world, trick us into voting for them and seduce us into their beds.
1: Be your own fact-checker. Successful liars are especially good at making statements that seem credible at first glance but which don’t hold up to scrutiny. If we want to regain control over our lives, we must closely examine what our institutions, bosses, politicians and potential lovers are telling us.
2: Explore their motivations. When someone tells us something that we suspect might not be true, or something that sounds too good to be true, we should always examine why they might be say this. If we look into the motivations behind someone’s words, we can easily separate the liars from the forthright.
3: Explore your own motivations. It’s important when we’re listening to other people that we think about why we’re inclined to believe them. Many of us feel a deep sense of disconnectedness in our lives and are convinced that the way to belong is to believe in someone else.
4: Stop lying to yourself. It can be tempting to practice denial. Facing the truth about yourself or your life can be uncomfortable or upsetting, so it’s not unusual to resort to the defenses of denial, wishful thinking or self-delusion.
Trust but verify.