It’s a moment you will remember for a long time. A memory you would probably prefer to forget – the occasion when you were found out in a lie. I’m not talking about the little white ones that we all tell from time to time, but the big deliberately deceiving lies that cost us friends and image.
We tell lies for a variety of reasons, no one is immune from it. It often seems to be the only way out, even the kindest thing to do, certainly the safest course of action. And some of us get away with it. But as the old saying goes, ‘you can fool some of the people for some of the time, but not all of the people for all of the time’.
After the initial unpleasantness, life has to go on. Most decent people regret the lie, they want to make amends and put things back on a good footing again. If people love us, even a little, they will help us to do this. Forgive and try to forget would be their attitude in this case.
For the person who has told lie it might be a very different situation. It is often easier to forgive someone else than to forgive oneself. This amounts to punishing oneself over and over again. It is my experience that self forgiveness may be a long time in coming. Ironically, if the person who has been hurt is forgiving then the disgust at the lie can grow out of all proportion to the deed.
Forgetting is not something we can choose to do. Once something is locked into our memory cells it stays there, sometimes for the rest of our lives. So the only chance we have to start afresh is to exercise discipline and not entertain the memory. When you start thinking of the past experience then determine to think of something else, something pleasant and distracting. It is true that we cannot think of two things at the same time. It will take a while but it can be done. Eventually the embarrassment, the hurt, the anger and the shame will fade. Make a point of being pleasant, even nice to people and eventually you will form a new image of yourself, one that is better than before the lie even.
Even really rotten things can be turned to good if you regret them, undo as much of the damage as possible and then learn from the whole painful incident. You will be sadder but wiser in the long run.