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The Effects of Inauthentic Expression & Deception on the Body

Earth, Nature, Zen Buddhism

– Composed by Rebecca Bourhill and Edited Glenn Nangaku Leisching


What is Inauthentic Expression and Deception?

Inauthentic Expression involves going against one’s own beliefs, values, knowledge, feelings, characteristics or experiences. Deception is an intentional act aimed to mislead another individual. It includes withholding information, behavioral gestures, masking (read masking blog here), facial expressions and other forms of giving false information.

Inauthenticity is not sustainable and can be energy-draining in the long-term. One’s body experiences a measure of stress in proportion to the severity and nature of deceptive expression. Becoming mentally accustomed to telling small lies often leads to bigger, more serious deceptive strategies.

The body’s natural behaviors tend toward truthful expression. Deceptive strategies require a masking or suppression of the body’s authentic responses. This causes a dissonance between the mind-body-heart connection.

Deceptive acts repeatedly performed increase disconnection in the integrated, authentic expression of the holistic person. This eventually mounts into resident dis-ease, denial and defensiveness in the body. One’s self-worth is threatened and self-esteem diminishes. This begins destroying trust in oneself and in personal relationships.

Becoming accustomed to patterns of inauthentic expression, whether it be to remain out of trouble, or keep the peace, can become a stepping stone to more serious and destructive deceptions – to lying in court, deceiving investors, theft and fraud.

Whatever the justifications may be for inauthentic behavior, the effects on one’s health will be consequential and destructive.

Motives Behind Communicating Non-Truths

Non-truth Motivated by Compassion:

Being honest allows an individual to feel good about themselves, therefore we mostly express ourselves truthfully. However, there are occasions when we justify lying because we place personal values above honesty. Often this override is due to compassion. Telling the truth that could unfairly endanger a perpetrator is a good example.

Deception for Material Gain:

When a need for material gain motivates a lie, the results are mostly negative for both parties involved. To receive something exclusively for personal gain often causes harm to others.

Inauthentic expression is a learned behaviour inherited from family constellations and social circles. For example, when it appears possible to get away with deception, children follow suit. This creates a chain reaction in the human environment, spreading from one generation to the next causing a cycle of suppressed stress which will eventually force the need for balance or reconciliation. Denied long enough, the karmic demand for equity between victims and the perpetrators of exploitative deception can result in significant outbursts of pain, anger, and violence.

The Need to Maintain Positive Self-image:

Deception has temporary benefits in that it may allow individuals to ‘fit in’ and follow societal norms. Probably one of the most harmful reasons people communicate inauthentically is to make themselves appear acceptable in the projected expectations of others or society. Telling oneself, for example, that one is ‘not good enough’ when, in reality, you are perfect just the way you are, can result in negative self-talk which can lead to severe depression.

Effects of Deception on the Body – the Stress Response

Dishonesty has the possibility to harm an individual’s reputation, self-worth, and trust in relationships. It invites risk-taking and therefore stress into the body. When lying, the body goes into a state of anxiety, activating the limbic system – the autonomic nervous system that controls the fight-or-flight response.

Surprisingly, there are contradictory studies about the effects on health due to long-term deception. Certain results claim there is a clear effect on the body. Others conclude that the more one engages in inauthentic or deceptive behaviour the more comfortable an individual will become with it, which can mask or diminish the apparent effect on the body.

The former points to long-term negative effects on the body. Regularly triggering the body’s stress-response causes elevation in the stress-hormone cortisol and its more lethal twin, adrenalin. These hormones, if constantly pulsing through one’s organs, will eventually take its toll. It places the body in a constant state of hyper-aroused threat.

Temporarily, adrenalin serves to protect, but over the long-term and together with increased cortisol levels, adverse effects begin to appear. These increased hormones apply pressure on various organs creating chronic conditions such as: autoimmune diseases; high blood pressure; mental health issues; digestive problems; muscle spasms; headaches (including ones linked to muscle tension); sleep problems; disordered eating (and weight gain); and decreased memory and mental focus.

Your Body is a Polygraph Machine (a lie detector)!

How the Polygraph Works. Is it Credible?

The two main ways to detect deception are: the human body itself by studying body language and verbal/non-verbal communication; and by using technology by way of the polygraph machine or lie detector.

The body communicates through involuntary, micro-facial expressions, visible for only split seconds. Eye contact, pupil dilation and voice pitch are all contributors to detecting lies.

The polygraph is a somewhat more scientifically reliable means of detecting lies. It works by measuring one’s acute stress or fight-flight response in the autonomic nervous system – the physiological symptoms that become activated when lying. These include heart rate, blood-pressure, breathing rate, and perspiration. Under examination, the individual’s physiological responses are compared to control questions – usually ordinary and personal questions, such as name, age, date of birth, etc.

It can be argued that this method is not credible due to a variety of factors. The results yielded can come across as false-positives as well as false-negatives due to evidence that some people are able to control physiological responses to varying degrees.

Perspiration can be naturally triggered simply by nervousness or the uncomfortable feeling of being hooked up to all the equipment. In court, polygraph tests are not considered plausible because of all the aforementioned as well as the environmental factors of external heat from lights and technology which may cause a discrepancy in the results.

Trust your heart and body – your conscience is the best polygraph you have available to point you in the direction of an honest, harmonious life. Authenticity begins and ends with you!

How to Reduce Inauthentic Expression and Deception?

Often the social environment is partly to blame for deceptive activity. In holistic communities the perpetrator, victim, and witnessing community all share collective responsibility for maintaining honesty and equity in all relationships. Therefore, we each have a vital role to play in reducing inauthenticity in our friend, family, work, and social circles.

Firstly, role-modelling authenticity, vulnerability and truthful expression allows others to trust their own capacity to do the same. This a powerful first step in creating an environment that supports authentic expression.

Second, by reducing the fear of potential punishment for both truthful and deceptive expression creates an inviting space for vulnerability. It allows family, friends, and community members to make forgivable mistakes for which the whole circle of effected people takes collective responsibility.

And third, creating a pause for reflection between the stimulus and potential deception, creates the necessary space to choose a more healthy response.

Each of these can be practiced and improved upon by:


  • Establishing a meditation practice can be very helpful in empowering you to pause and and make changes to the learned habit of masking or behaving inauthentically.
  • Joining a community talking circle which is free of judgement and practices trust, can empower you to learn how to express yourself more authentically.
  • Working with a mentor who can facilitate your self-acceptance and alignment with your inherent perfection can support you on your path to becoming a truer, more radiant you.


If lying creates so much additional stress on the body, why do people take part in such a behaviour? Everyone has different justifications for doing it: for self-protection, protection of others, to hurt others, or just to get out of sticky situations.

Whatever the circumstance, pause before expressing yourself inauthentically. More often than not a cost vs benefit analysis of deceptive behaviour always points to the benefit of authentic expression. By realising the harm deception causes in your body, in your relationships and community, and in society at large is cause for pause.

Being courageously honest may spare you the anguish of losing connection with your perfect naturalness, and from losing connection to friends and family, or from ruining your trustworthy reputation.


Kluger, J., and Masters, C. (2006, August 28). How to Spot a Liar. TIME Magazine. 168(9): p46-48.[online]. https://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2050898,00.html [Accessed 8 September 2023]

Mayo Clinic. (2021, July 8). Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Mayo Clinic; Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress- management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037 [Accessed 8 September 2023]

Psychology.iresearchnet. (2016, January 5). Deception (Lying) (SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY) iResearchNet.

Psychology. https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/antisocial-behavior/deceptionlying/#:~:text=Lying%20and%20purposefully%20misleading%20others

Wiltermuth, S., Newman, D., & Raj, M. (2015, May 26). The Consequences of Dishonesty | Society for

Personality and Social Psychology. Spsp.org. https://spsp.org/news-center/character-context-blog/consequences-dishonesty[Accessed 8 September 2023]