I just blatantly lied to someone. Without even batting an eyelid I looked in their eyes, smiled vacantly and lied through my less than perfect teeth.
Matter of fact, I’ve worked out I’ve been telling the same lie for years.
“Good thanks” I said.
Boom. There it was. A mindless, programmed response to a question we’re asked, and asking, on a daily basis.
“Hi, how are you today?”, the check out operator had asked.
Do we even hear the answer we get or give to this question?
Or do we simply mumble our way through this trite exchange, mouths running on autopilot while our minds are wandering off down another corridor somewhere in a different room, different building, different post code?
It struck me today as I uttered this broken record reply that I was, in fact, feeling like complete and utter shit.
I was buying groceries on aSunday morning, after a somewhat sleepless night, sporting a food hangover from eating garbage the night before and steeling myself to take my daughter to a 2 year old’s birthday party that afternoon.
At the moment the checkout operator posed her question, I’d been daydreaming about twisting the throttle on my motorbike on a winding backroad somewhere amongst the farming properties and country towns a hundred miles from where I was standing in air conditioned, polished floor, fluorescent lit comfort.
Why do we lie?
What if I’d told the truth. Been transparent?
“Hi. I’m feeling like shit this morning” I should have said.
Are we too lazy to deal with the alternative to our pre-packaged, cotton candy communication?
“Really? Me too! I’m working when all my friends are at the beach and I only accepted this shift for fear I’d lose my hours if I didn’t”, she might have responded.
I’m not suggesting we should all go around publicly wallowing in our self piteous feelings. Inviting others to collude and fall in a heap with us.
What I am putting forward is that perhaps all this filtering and pruning of our shared experience of life is down right f#^*ing exhausting.
What if part of the suffering so many of us seem to experience on a daily basis is down to the simple habit of not being transparent?
It’s not just check-out-chicks.
This behaviour seeps into our relationships everywhere. Co workers, employers and employees, family members, spouses and life partners, the list goes on. Little packages of pasteurised, homogenised expressions of non-feelings. Better (or worse) still, is when we have a strong feeling about another person but we don’t share that openly.
Lying about how I’m feeling or what my weekend was like is one thing. Withholding the truth about how we feel about each other takes this practice to a whole other level.
When we opt out of telling another person about how we feel about them we’re essentially pulling on one of those Sumo-suits you see at some clubs and bars – everyone looks the same on the outside, but the reality is very different inside that suit!
So what’s the alternative?
Suffering. Perhaps. But it’s also incredibly freeing in the long term.
To not have to carry around all the unshared honesties about ourselves, the buried treasures of transparency we shove in boxes in our often fatigued hearts.
Maybe I’m overstating it, maybe it’s worth a try.
Let’s have a go at cutting the bullshit and saying how we really feel. No need to be aggressive or depressive, but if you’re feeling like crap, or you’re on cloud nine, why not say so…?
By Warrick Bidwell