The language center is located in your left brain, it controls the right side of your body. Do this for me, so you can easily follow the piece: raise your right hand and open and close it a few times. This hand is connected to the speaking brain, it is on the left side of your head but controls this right hand. Your right hemisphere controls the left side and it is silent. The silent brain cannot conceptualize its thoughts and knowledge into language, but it can understand and comprehend. So suppose you place a number of objects on a split-brain person, as in the video at the bottom of the reading tips, and you place a text on the left (in front of his silent right-brain half) with the instruction: ”Take the blue block and pass it to the right hand (so the talking left brain)’’ and then you place a text on the right with the question ‘’Why did you take the blue block?” and the person might answer: “Because, blue is my favorite color!” In normal brains, both hemispheres communicate. So the reason this person is giving a wrong answer is because they didn’t get the information from the silent right brain, so the prefrontal cortex jumps in to make an explanation.

This is also called confabulation, technically it is not a lie, but (part of) the brain filling in gaps of information with its own interpretation. This is especially known in people with Alzheimer’s or extremely poor memory; after all, their brains are trying to make a logical story out of life, just like ours do. They don’t have a split brain, but the prefrontal cortex will still just interpret what the missing information is.

Back to the prefrontal cortex. Some simple facts:

– This is the part of our brain that we lie with.
– And it is also the part that chooses between the lie, the truth or something in between.
– Lying takes more brain activity than speaking the truth. Do you lie a lot? Then you train your prefrontal cortex and it will decide to choose a lie more often.
– Brain stimulation of this area strengthens the human ability to lie and deceive.
– People with dysfunction or damage to their prefrontal cortex cannot lie and lack the ability to even understand sarcasm. That makes sense, because when you think about it, this is really just jokingly saying something that is not true.

I can imagine by now you are probably thinking: okay…. where exactly are you going with this? I’ll simply explain that to you: our brain lies to us without us being aware of it. You don’t have to have a split brain for that to happen. However, this phenomenon has made it clearer to us that it does fabricate a lot. If you cannot find an explanation for something, your prefrontal cortex looks for one. When you answer questions in a conversation, the speaking left brain is likely to answer, even though your silent brain knows, understands and feels a lot more. 

All of the clients I talk to, all of them, live in denial to some degree, without being aware of it. Literally any person can be a victim of this, but why did I say clients then? Because I only play the role of a psychologist when I work. If I’m not working, then I just communicate with people casually and really don’t try to read in between the lines. That is almost a top sport. As a therapist, during 1:1 sessions, that is the only place where I dig deep into the soul, search the meaning behind your words, analyze what your actions point to against your words and everything is deliberately questioned (this does not mean I don’t trust you). So I can only say this off those people, and of course, I speak on my own behalf. Because my brain has often lied to me as well, how sneaky (again)!

So how do you fix this? A simple tip: do not answer immediately. Pause for a moment. Let the question circulate and let your left and right hemispheres argue with each other, then listen to your gut. Deep down you know the truth is, because that is, however cliche it may sound, in your heart.

Tip number two: be introspective. Regularly choose moments to reflect and look inside. Your body is a very good messenger for this: where do you feel stress and tension? Where do you feel pain? Do you have an anxious gut feeling or a heavy chest? What’s going on in your head? Etc. I normally plan a fixed day a week for this myself, and then write out everything + goals to work on. But right now with the pandemic, having my kids around me for every second of the day, which is a nightmare (I’m kidding, lol, no I’m not, s.o.s, send help pls), I am blessed if I find a minute to do that. 

The final tip, and this is not so simple, is: “Say the truth, or at least don’t lie.” This is one of my favorite sayings from a Professor in psychology. The explanation of this, in his words: “If you don’t tell the truth, or if you lie, you corrupt the instinctual mechanisms that manifest themselves as meaning. So the fundamental reason to not lie is because you corrupt your own perceptions.

In other words, be honest in your language, in your actions, and in your feelings. The more honest you are, the more your brain’s ability to confabulate (lie) dies out. Be brave by being honest with yourself about your inner pain. Because when you lie to yourself, your brain learns to lie back to you. And when it does, it keeps you from growing, because it hides the problems. It makes the world scary, ugly, and unjust. It keeps you from loving relationships and emotional intimacy. It keeps you away from what is meaningful in your life, and shackles you to a superficial life of reacting instead of anticipating and acting consciously. If your brain is a liar … then you can only be surviving instead of truly living. 

One client once said, “I hated having to tell my story over and over each time (I was their 20th or something therapist, and their last: yay!) I hate having to be this vulnerable time and time again. But that is a sacrifice that I make consciously, because this is the price of a happy, wise, rich and loving life.” What wisdom! No wonder they are thriving right now, in each section of their lives!

What most people need for this brave kind of honesty is a safe, unbiased (listening) space. Are you wondering who can provide that for you? Are you in need of this, but no one comes to mind? Find me here.

Want to learn more about this topic? Here are my tips:

Video: You are two – CGP Gray (!)

Book: Thou Shalt Not Notice – Alice Miller
Book: The body keeps the score – Dr. Bessel van der Kolk (!)
Article: The art of lying – Scientific American