Our kind create illusions, generate a false reality and manipulate perceptions. Chief amongst such fabrications is our capacity to change what has gone before and revise history. This editing of our lives begins from the moment that we make our approach to you. That win at school in the 100m sprint becomes a triumph in the county championships instead or even victory for our country in a youth athletics meeting. When we played football we were a decent if workmanlike footballer but when we later recount these stories to a group of people that we wish to impress and draw into our façade, we were captain, scored fifty goals or more each season and won a handful of awards at the end of season presentations. Yes, we were signed on schoolboy terms with a major football club but decided we wanted to pursue our other interests. I have other interests? Of course I do, let me tell you about those as I engage in another bout of made-up glory or exaggerated accomplishments. Our kind operates by the maxim,
“If the story is not true about us it certainly ought to be.”
It isn’t unknown for us to keep newspaper clippings detailing the triumph of others and pointing to them as our own. If no name is mentioned but it is a team then we belonged to that team and yes, that is me in the centre, admittedly I have changed as I have got older but who hasn’t? Even the presence of a different name to our own will not necessarily deter us from seizing this piece of history and claiming it as ours. I had a different name then. Why? Well it was because of this….. This then allows me to engage in another fabrication which holds your attention and impresses you as I talk of parental influences causing name changes, witness protection schemes and the need for anonymity and so forth. You will be so caught up in my over bearing charm and the bright glare of my shining star that this will all sound plausible. We are always plausible that is how we get away with what we do. We revel in being grand and impressive and thus we will change who we are, where we came from and what we have achieved in order to fit the image that we wish to portray to the world at large. The bolder the better, as Joseph Goebbels declared,
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
We practise this approach throughout our engagement with you. We rely on your trust and your default setting of accepting what you are told by people. We are so self-assured in our statements, so convincing and able to point to detail that we are entirely plausible as explaining we are the top trader at our brokerage, the largest biller at the law firm, the number one sales person at the company and so forth. We gather this detail from those we have met. Accordingly, because we like to be associated with success we ensure we fraternise with those within our business who are successful. We bask in the reflected glory but listen to what they say so we may acquire that trait of their personality for ourselves. Once acquired we fasten it to ourselves and the portray it as part of us when we meet you in a bar and tell you about what we do. As an expert in mimicry, we not only copy behaviours and emotions for the purpose of duping you, we also duplicate the successes and achievements of others and call them our own. We do this so often that we regard them as our achievements.
We can tell you how we were the star decathlete at university and deflect any scepticism about why we do not do much exercise now by pointing to the knee injury that we have. Of course this invented knee injury was not sustained in a mundane incident when we were knocked from our bike in a leafy suburban street by an inattentive driver, goodness me no. This knee injury which put to an early end our ambition of Olympic stardom resulted from me tackling an armed robber in a bank and him striking my knee with the butt of his gun. The judge praised my bravery and the criminal was, I am pleased to report, apprehended. Yes, I received a reward too. This never happened but I did read about it in last week’s paper and thought that such information was very useful for me to acquire for my own use in creating this magnificent hero that I wish to be.
I apply this revisionist approach to my own history but it does not stop there. Everybody becomes affected by its taint. We will alter the course and nature of past friendships and relationships. That friend who no longer speaks to us has become jealous of our success in the workplace and cannot hide it so it is better that we have nothing to do with one another. The strength of our façade and the chirping propaganda chicks which occupy my coterie, along with the trumpeting proclamations from my Lieutenants ensures that it is my version of events which is heard most often, drowning out any dissent, so that what I say about someone becomes regarded as fact. Well, if everyone else says it as well, I must be right mustn’t I? The abusive ex-girlfriend who moved two thousand miles to escape my tendrils is not going to know to even try to contradict what I say about her. I can slander he repeatedly, explaining how she tried to control me and stop me going out with my friends and there is no opposing voice or version. My alteration to the truth goes unchallenged and I believe it, because in my mind she was trying to control me by stopping me gathering my fuel from having affairs with other people. Affairs? Friends? What’s the difference when it means I can con you into believing me, expressing your sympathy for me as a consequence of the horrible behaviour I endured and allowing me to coil a further tendril around you?
Everyone is subjected to these revisions. Family, friends, lovers, partners and colleagues. I am elevated and they are denigrated as my propaganda network pumps out the lies, embellishments and exaggerations in support of what I want you to hear and think.
Our revisionist behaviours do not stop there with how we portray ourselves and others but go on to infect our relationship. We must always have the upper hand and as I have mentioned before this means that we will shift the battlefield to suit us from day to day and from moment to moment. What better way of achieving this that to alter what has gone before?
“We did not agree to go out tonight, you have made that up.”
“I think you will find that I drove last time, so you can this time.”
“I didn’t go out last Friday; you are just inventing things now.”
“What pie? There wasn’t one there.” Said as I brush the pie crumbs from my shirt.
This need to evade blame, make you out to be the one at fault and to gather fuel from you will cause us to engage in the most extraordinary gymnastics of past events and conversations. It is often a knee-jerk reaction where the denial, deflection and revision is uttered before we even ascertain how ridiculous it may sound to you. That does not matter to us. We are not interested in whether you regard it as incredible, we must remain on higher ground to you, by whatever means and if this means saying it has not rained this afternoon, when it has and puddles can still be seen outside, then we will do it. I know this appears ridiculous but I know that those of you who have been subjected to this will testify to its astonishing nature. We do not care for the logic that you apply. All we care about is making sure we can stay away from blame, free of accountability, maintain control and draw fuel. You cannot believe that someone can lie so blatantly. You cannot believe that someone can change what has just happened in the blink of an eye to something else. This is what we want. Your astonishment and incredulity are such that you flow with fuel as you become amazed, flabbergasted, angry and upset. You will try and try to make us see that we are incorrect. Keep going, you are not going to succeed and all you will do is exhaust yourself and give us fuel. This maintenance of the ability to change what has gone before is instrumental in eventually causing you to doubt your own reality and begin to wonder if actually, perhaps we are right and you are wrong. This gas lighting will have you bewildered and confused and the application of a revisionist policy is instrumental in the application of this particular form of manipulation.
In the novel 1984 when the government changed the facts to suit the issue of the day, all previous references to said fact had to be deleted, revised or amended across all publications. We do exactly the same. There was never anything different to what we have asserted, it has always been the case and guess what? If we suddenly want to change it again, because it suits our agenda, we will do it without a hint of concern or embarrassment. It is breath-taking but highly damaging to you as you are caught in between what you know to be right and our bewildering insistence that you are wrong.
This revisionist nature of ours explains why one week you are on that pedestal and the following week you are in the dust and we never ever placed you on a pedestal. You can tell us until you are blue in the face that we once adored you and revered you, that we treated you like a queen and we will just shake our heads and call you delusional.
“Stop trying to change the facts.”
This accusation will be levelled at you as you try to convince us to the contrary and you will react even more as you are accused of the very thing that we are doing. This only means more confusion for you, more control for us and more fuel. Your desire to be correct and your desire to have us see this correctness (even though we won’t do so) keeps you on our merry go round and enables us to keep changing what has happened to suit our purposes.
This is done because we have to have the upper hand. It is done because we must always win. It is done because we must be the victor in this war between you and I.
As has been stated on many occasions, this is done because history is written by the winners.