I had a client once who came in saying he told little lies to his wife.
Simple, innocent things like: ‘I saw a fox today.’ or ‘I got to taste some free cheese at the supermarket’.
He never lied about any serious things.
His wife always knew he was lying, and had told him that perhaps he should see a therapist about it.
It turned out that he felt he might be a bit boring. He was a professional classical musician and played in an orchestra. He was afraid that his life was only about classical music, so he made up little lies.
I shocked him a little bit by saying the only boring thing I’ve ever heard you say are the examples of the lies you tell.
He laughed out loud.
It turned out that he was much more than ‘just’ a cello player.
He volunteered for an organization that collected clothes for poor people, he was enthusiastic about his first grandchild, he was the deputy chairman of a club for hikers, he helped out the local Green party.
From his perspective all this was boring. Not to him, but he thought it would be boring to others.
When he saw I was clearly interested in hearing him talk about all aspects of his life, he said that whenever he would feel the urge to make up some little lie, he would have the reflex to tell his wife something that had actually happened. Like an article he had read about politics or a new piece of music he was rehearsing.
At the end of the second session, not the first, I told him that my door was always open to him, but that there was no pressing matter to continue.
A couple weeks later I saw him and his wife in a tearoom where I happened to be with my wife, I try not to interact with clients too much when I bump into them outside of the office, but he waved enthusiastically, and when they left, his wife passed me by and said: ‘he doesn’t see foxes anymore’ and winked.
If all therapy clients could be like that I’d have to look for a different calling.