Emotional Overdrive

I planned a get together for some friends this weekend. I was really looking forward to it, wanted to make sure everyone had fun, and enjoyed themselves.

We met up with eight friends (four more of which had to cancel due to the nasty flu that is going around) and we enjoyed some casual yet great home-style Mexican food. After that, we went to a local pub, had a drink and headed to our reserved lanes at the bowling alley to try something new: cosmic bowling. Have you tried it?

Cosmic bowling is when they turn the lights down low, add a fluoresces to things, put on spinning lights with cool designs that spatter the floor and walls, and turn up some hip music. The funny thing was our nearly 40 crowd didn’t recognize any of the “hip” music! That dated us LOL.

But the irony of the whole experience was I so wanted to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves and when I tried to read them — I was flat stone-walled by my own abilities. My lie”dar” — which is also a great people reader — flat wouldn’t register other people’s true emotions. It fuzzed over, hazed and wouldn’t give a read!! I found myself relying on face-value judgments which left me in the dark, frustrated and like a blind man trying to see without his glasses. No amount of scrutinizing brought a clearer image!

At times, I would spot a genuine smile — and I knew for that instant someone was having fun — say when they bowled a strike — but that didn’t tell me if they were really having fun all evening.

I half-expected this would happen. I’ve learned over the years that if I am emotionally-invested in an outcome of something, my abilities wane, dramatically. Realistically, my emotions override my logical abilities and I am unable to differentiate between my emotional desires and the true outcome — and I second guess myself. I have doubts and I am not sure what I am seeing. When we, me or anyone is emotional — your ability to see things clearly is not dependable.

I think I’ve become hyper-aware of my emotions and I realize when they kick in. We all have this emotional overdrive (which hits us at varying degrees depending on the circumstances)– I just don’t know how many people are aware of it and explain it like I do.

There are times when my emotional overdrive kicks in and I AM able to consciously work to shut it down and focus on the true logic at hand. I can do it– but it takes time and LOTS of effort. And frankly, Saturday night I wanted to have fun so I let things be. I floated along in the fog of wonder!

So when the lie detector most wants to know something personal — affecting her — for which she is emotionally invested — guess what? There are times when I am just like the rest of the world! I must rely on face value emotions. Boy do I hate that! I feel so handicapped.

I did have one of our friends in the car on the way home with us — who is way better than average at reading people — so I spilled my guts to him — and got his take. He was certain everyone had a good time and would do it again. I’ll just have to trust him and take his word for it.

I hate when that happens…

Are you aware of your emotional overdrive short-circuiting your logic?

Spot the Fake Smile

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You’ve landed on the blog of a “natural”

as depicted in the show “Lie to Me”
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Take a test!

Test your skills. See if you can spot a fake smile!

It’s a challenging test.

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I scored 15 out of 20 correct.

What did you score?

Detecting Lies: Three Categories

Here is some mad science from my head!

I’ve realized that when I am reading someone as to whether or not they are telling the truth, I quickly categorize them into one of three categories within seconds:

Positive
Negative
Neutral

Positive people are those who immediately convince me they are trustworthy. It’s because their expressions are so genuine, or their actions, words or overall demeanor are very sincere. There is instantly no doubt about it: they are telling the truth. You just know they are being honest.

Most often, I don’t even have to listen to what positive people are saying, because their facial expressions are a dead giveaway: They are overflowing with emotion. It’s the sincere overflow of emotions that lead me to this conclusion.
Tom Cruise, with regard to the Katie Holmes engagement, is one person right now that comes to mind who is overflowing with genuine emotion. You can just watch his facial expressions and know that he is telling the truth, without even listening to what he has to say. Try lying and making those facial expressions with his enthusiasm: You can’t do it, no matter how hard you try.

The opposite of positive is, of course, negative. Negative people do things that instantly tell me they are lying. From telling stories that don’t make sense, to awkward speech patterns, to inappropriate facial expressions that contradict their story, to endless stuttering. They give instant clues that they are being deceptive. Most often, though not always, it is the emotions on their face that tell their story first.
The next type of person is a neutral person. These people are hardest to read, because these people don’t express a lot of emotion. Neutral people tend to lack genuine enthusiasm, and most often come across as someone who is not excitable. They usually come across as mundane and monotone.
While the majority of people who fall into the neutral category are suspicious, it does not mean that they are lying. And that is where it gets tricky. Some people just lack normal expressive emotions and instead are subdued, even when they are telling the truth.
When I realize I have categorized someone in the neutral category, I really have to focus to get to the truth, and it doesn’t always come quickly like it does with positive and negative people—it takes minutes rather than seconds (or even longer!). Listening to their story becomes imperative. With a rare few, sometimes I am not able to discern the truth, and I have to give it up until more information presents itself.

Neutral people who are liars are usually psychopaths.

What makes it even more tricky is that some psychopaths who are lying give off emotional indications that are supportive to their story, even though they are lying. You have to see this in action to understand it. They even make facial expressions that are consistent with what they are saying. It’s twisted and hard to explain until you can experience it.

What usually gives away that a neutral person or a pathological person is lying is that the actual events of their situation aren’t logical. These people stretch the truth, play on the “what-ifs” and the could-be-possible-odds too many times for reality to be present. When you add up all the usual bits to their story, the odds become one-in-a-million, or statistically very, very unlikely. That, combined with other subtle hints, all add up to give away a neutral or pathological liar.

Also, it is common for liars to dull their emotional responses and try to play neutral, but these liars are actually not true neutrals. I’ll call them false neutrals. These people leak information differently than classic neutral liars: They flicker emotions and microexpressions, whereas the true neutral liar likely will not. One suspect that comes to mind who acts like this right now is Joran van der Sloot. Of course, I am not accusing him of lying. However, I just think his behavior is very suspicious.

A false neutral liar’s speech may become unnaturally slow as if someone taped them and played it back in slow motion. It’s rather odd, because when they speak the truth, their speech rate increases to normal or above, but when they lie, they suddenly slow their speech way down, or vice-versa. Again, a true neutral liar will not do this. He will be the same throughout the interview. He will not change or vary at all. He is highly controlled in his all of his responses, or flat out lacks emotions, which is notable.

Sadly, most people want to give others the benefit of the doubt, and that is how these neutral masters of deception get away with lying so frequently. That’s how pathological people kill successfully! That is how serial killers get away with their crimes for so long. People don’t add up the odds—they don’t put the intricate piece of the puzzle together.

Neutral people who are lying are usually pathological liars, though not all pathological liars are neutral.

Natural Law

I believe nature naturally rewards us for telling the truth. The more we tell it, and live by it, the more confident we become, and the more self-assured we are. When we are honest, we have nothing to hide which frees the mind and body. We can look in the mirror and be proud.

However, when we lie — we doubt ourselves because we distort the facts. We question our sanity, we distrust our own being as well as everyone around us. Lying errodes our confidence and puts us on a path of insecurity, doubt, fear and uncertainty.

It’s the law of nature.

Forms of Lies and Responses

Lies can take on many forms. Here are two forms I’ve identified: eventful and hurtful.

Eventful lies are when someone lies about things or events that do not directly affect you. For instance, your friend tells you she is happy when she is not. Or she tells you she is on a diet and losing lots of weight, when you can clearly see with your own eyes that the opposite is happening. With eventful lies, you are not the target of the lie. It may make you feel upset, mad or uncomfortable because you feel as if you are being played for dumb. However, if you think about it, these lies truly have nothing to do with you—it’s all about the liar.

Why do people tell eventful lies? Plain and simply because they are unable to cope with the truth. They don’t even consider how you feel when they lie—it’s all about their inability to cope. The reality is that their life is painful; instead of dealing with it, they try to bury it—and the more they try to bury it, the more and more they lie. It’s a vicious cycle which only robs the liar of self-esteem and confidence. It’s sadly a self-defeating coping mechanism, and worse, it pervades our society today. So many people are suffering the self-inflicted ills of eventful lies. It’s sad.

Hurtful lies, however, are when someone sets out to tell you something that (a) involves you; or (b) with the knowledge that saying such a lie can and/or will hurt you. In this instance, your friend tells you she stayed home last night sick when you know from another friend she actually went out to a party. Hurtful lies are the lies that are not easily forgotten. These are the lies that are destructive to any form of relationship.

Several readers have written to me over the past month asking me questions like “How do you deal with lies?” “Do you confront liars?” “Do you tell a friend who is living in denial the truth when she can’t see it?”

When people lie to me, I always ask myself: What is their motivation?

Are they unable to cope with the world? Or are they trying to be hurtful? When people lie and I see that it’s because they are unable to cope with their world, I can often let the lie slide. I don’t get jarred or upset, because I realize the liar and his/her lies have nothing to do with me. These lies are all about the person who is lying. How can you be mad at someone who can’t even be honest with themselves? An eventful liar may be a good, kind heart who just isn’t able to cope with life.

When I was younger, I tried fruitlessly to help eventful liars, but in the end, I only isolated myself. It’s best to leave people in denial (after offering a hint or a suggestion and getting rejected), because they aren’t going to change simply because you say the truth. They usually know the truth, but are running as hard as they can away from it. Do know that they will only change when they are good and ready. If you don’t like it, I suggest you distance yourself to a comfortable location. There is little you are going to be able to do. Denial is an ugly, powerful monster.

Should you confront the hurtful liar? Well, the choice is certainly yours, but it is going to be an uphill battle, and it is a battle you’ve already lost. If someone tells you a hurtful lie, you already know, without having to go any further, that they are going to put their own interests ahead of yours—every time—and so the value of the relationship has disintegrated. You now know you are not valued anymore. Essentially, if you ask me, the relationship has disintegrated beyond repair, for good. So what is the point of confrontation?

The only time I will ever confront anyone is if I have established a very close relationship with them, and I know that I have some potential to get through to them. When I am in a close relationship like this, I know that honesty is valued, and in these situations, I will work hard to have the truth prevail. If I can’t get through, I will worry about the future of our relationship.

How do I approach them? I approach them with love, kindness and concern. I am never brutal, cruel or mean. I tell them that I am concerned and worried. I question them and express my fears. I try to lead them to the truth. I tell them that I love them more than anything, and that I am willing to lay all my feelings on the table, even if it means risking losing the relationship, because I care so much about them that I can’t handle seeing this situation deteriorate any further.

You must have the type of relationship that was built on honesty in order to endure this. If you don’t, it could very well be the end of your relationship, though you may find the risk worthy for the good of a friend. You just have to be willing to lose your friend with honorable intentions. It’s all about being honorable. You can do this in any relationship so long as you are certain your intentions are true and are out of pure love for your friend.

In an ideal world, all friendships would be based on honesty. We wouldn’t face eventful or hurtful lies, but the sad fact is we do, every day. We thankfully see a million times more eventful lies than we do hurtful lies, which makes it a little easier, because we know it is nothing personal.

As my mom always says, “If you have to hide something, ever, something is wrong—very wrong. Let that be your guide.”

I hope this helps you take a new perspective on the lies you face. Why are you/they hiding that? What was the motivation of that lie? Is it really about them, or is it all about you?