5 Interesting And Thoughtful Quotations About Telling Lies. Part 1. By Dr Linda Berman.

Crossed fingers behind back, free public domain CC0 image.

It is a fact that we all tell lies.

Whether these lies are told face to face, on the phone, or by email, lies are told in some way by us each and every day. (Research actually indicates that we tell more lies on email than we do with pen and paper.)

Think about it…. how many lies have you told in the past 24 hours? I don’t necessarily mean big, enormous porky-pie lies, though you may indeed have told some of those, but how many little chipolata lies have you told?


These could be related to making an excuse because you don’t feel like meeting someone today, saying you have a headache, complimenting someone’s new hairstyle when you don’t actually like it at all, inventing a traffic jam excuse instead of admitting you’re late, telling someone you’re fine when you’re actually feeling ropey……


Below are 5 quotes about lying………..

Oops!… another little lie, because I have actually included some extra back-up quotes for good measure…….

Quote 1.

imageTrying to Tell the Truth. Tom Wood. Wikioo.

“Unlike statements of fact, which require no further work on our part, lies must be continually protected from collisions with reality.”

Sam Harris

Telling lies requires some hard work; people often trip up and have a painful fall as a result of their own fabrications.


The Fall – Annabel Obholzer. Wikioo.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Mark Twain.

Truth often emerges, despite our best efforts, in unexpected and unpredictable ways. Forgetting details of one’s previously-told lies is commonplace, and causes much embarrassment and shame.

Quote 2.

Paul Gauguin: Eve – Don’t Listen to the Liar. 1889 Wikimedia Commons.

“I am not upset that you lied to me, I am upset that from now on I cannot believe you.”

Fredrich Nietzsche 

The issue of trust being lost through lies is the theme of this quote. If we have a history of telling lies, then others may not trust us.

We will be wary of them, feeling that we cannot risk believing them when their lies have disappointed us so much in the past.

This is an undermining and distressing experience for all involved.

“The worst part about being lied to is knowing you weren’t worth the truth.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

In addition, the person who is a continual liar may feel that there is no truth in anyone else.

They will become untrusting and over-suspicious. Their mindset will be that, if they themselves lie, then everyone must be lying.

“The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.”

George Bernard Shaw

This means that they will live in a world of deceit and manipulation, will not be able to make real and trusting relationships, and will certainly be unhappy and rejected. If they cannot trust other people, then no-one is likely to trust them.

Furthermore, they will be unlikely to be able to trust themselves either, in that a life built on deception means one cannot trust one’s own intuition, opinions or wishes and plans for the future.

“Telling the truth is not a magic formula for having a smooth life. But living a life of integrity is actually easier than living one built around deceit and distortion.”

Robert A. Glover

Quote 3.




“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.”

Bessel A. van der Kolk

Telling ourselves lies may indeed result in a great deal of suffering and pain for us. Sometimes, we can distort the reality of ourselves, so that we come to believe our own- or others’- lies about who and what we are.

For example, a person I worked with in therapy had frequently been told as a child that they were too outgoing, too bombastic.

They remembered a controlling atmosphere at home, with strict rules about children being ‘seen and not heard.’

Having grown up repressing much of their energy for joy and pleasure in the world, they looked withdrawn and sad.

As therapy progressed, we began to uncover the part of them that was, indeed, lively and full of ‘get up and go.’ Up until then, they had genuinely taken on board the lie that this part of them was bad and must be quashed.

On the other hand, sometimes we might concoct lies about ourselves because we cannot face the truth and need our defences…..

“Every person must choose how much truth he can stand.”

Irvine Yalom.

For example, if someone has had a very traumatic experience, it may be that they cannot face the whole truth of what they have endured and cannot speak about it, so they deny it or minimise it. 

Quote 4.
(The Truth- 3 Quotes for the price of one!)
Odilon Redon, Le Silence. Wikimedia Commons.

“Of course, the liar often imagines that he does no harm as long as his lies go undetected.”

Sam Harris

Maintaining secrets and lies is a stressful and draining experience. It can be detrimental to one’s health. Fear of the lie being unmasked, of retribution, of karma, can plague a person who hides a lie.

“Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.”

Sam Harris
imageFace in the dark (Unsplash) Elijah Hiett. Wikimedia Commons.

“Boo, I think I no longer believe in monsters as faces in the floor or feral infants or vampires or whatever. I think at seventeen now I believe the only real monsters might be the type of liar where there’s simply no way to tell. The ones who give nothing away.”

David Foster Wallace

When it is difficult to know whether or not a person is lying, when they give nothing away, it can be very disconcerting for those around them. It can be hard to discern whether some people are lying or not.

“Cathy’s lies were never innocent. Their purpose was to escape punishment, or work, or responsibility, and they were used for profit. Most liars are tripped up either because they forget what they have told or because the lie is suddenly faced with an incontrovertible truth. But Cathy did not forget her lies, and she developed the most effective method of lying. She stayed close enough to the truth so that one could never be sure.”

John Steinbeck

Research into lying has revealed that non-verbal cues, such as rapid blinking and dilated pupils, or body language like covering up one’s mouth, which people often thought gave liars away, are actually ‘poor indicators’ for lying.

There is more interest and research now on listening to what people actually say..

“Today, psychologists are investigating verbal cues, and particularly on ways to magnify the differences between what liars and truth-tellers say.”

Jessica Seigel

Quote 5.

The Lie – Felix Vallotton. Wikioo

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

This quotation develops the theme in Quote 3, in that it connects the issue of lying to oneself to the inability to really love someone else.

A love built on lies is like a fragile sand sculpture. There are no foundations and it could collapse at any time, with a gust of wind or the incoming tide.


I end this post with an old legend…….

The Naked Truth.

The Lie said to the Truth –

“Let’s take a bath together, the well water is very nice.”

The Truth, still suspicious, tested the water and found out

it really was nice. So they got naked and bathed.

But suddenly, the Lie leapt out of the water and fled, wearing the clothes of the Truth.

The Truth, furious, climbed out of the well to get her clothes back.

But the World, upon seeing the naked Truth, looked away, with anger and contempt.

Poor Truth returned to the well and disappeared forever, hiding her shame.

Since then, the Lie runs around the world, dressed as the Truth, and society is very happy.

Because the world has no desire to know the naked Truth.”

19th Century Legend.

Jean-Léon Gérome PaintingTruth Coming Out Of Her Well, Jean-Léon Gérome, 1896

“A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”

Terry Pratchett

© Linda Berman.

Part 2 of this post will be published on waysofthinking.co.uk next Tuesday.

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