It is estimated that the average person lies 10 to 200 times a day. Whether you consider yourself “average”, the fact is we lie all the time. We lie to ourselves and we lie to each other. Small lies, big lies, just to get where we need to go kind of lies. This isn’t necessarily the big, blatant, in your face lying. It could be the sneaky “white” lying – what we consider to be harmless or trivial, and frequently said in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
Lying to ourselves according to Dr. Courtney Warren, stems from not being psychologically strong enough to be honest with yourself.
We fool ourselves into believing things that are false,
and we refuse to believe things that are true.
Listening to Courtney Warren’s Tedx talk “Honest liars — the psychology of self-deception” I was taken back, it struck a hard, deep cord, but at the same time I felt inspired and relieved. It rang and rings so true. Frighteningly true.
So what’s the big deal about telling yourself you can have that third cookie because you worked out yesterday?
Lying to yourself keeps you stuck. Now I don’t know about you, but I want to grow.
The fact is, when you lie to yourself, you aren’t going to get anywhere, because you can’t change something you can’t admit. Self-deception restricts you, limits you and steals your power.
How do you know you are lying to yourself and others?
You’re blaming others. “I wouldn’t have freaked out if he didn’t get me so mad.” You’re playing the victim. “I can’t believe she would do that to me.” You’re defending yourself. You’re defending your ego, your deceived identity.
Read more on the 15 Common Defense Mechanisms.
Other ways you can tell when you are lying to yourself. Y ou have a strong emotional reaction or thought to someone or something. “I just can’t stand being around her.” “He just rubs me the wrong way.” Anytime you feel or think something in an extreme way is an opportunity to see how you might be deceiving yourself.
When your actions don’t match your commitments. Like, when you catch saying one thing and doing another. “One more glass of wine won’t break my diet.” “Sure, let’s have dinner next week.” “I’ll text you tomorrow.”
And of course when you overpromise. You go after things you’re not equipped to handle because you’ve over-exaggerated your abilities. You find yourself in situations where you can’t deliver what you said you would deliver. You tell yourself you can do anything. You’re not being honest about your skill set, personality or knowledge. Be honest about what you can and cannot do. What you can’t do today may be achievable in the future if you educate yourself. The key is to first acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know.
So, why do we do this? We are susceptible to self-deception because we have emotional attachments to our beliefs.
Wear a mask long enough and it becomes your face.
Play a role long enough and it becomes who you are.
Spend enough time pretending something is true and
you might as well believe it to be so.
Unravelling your self-deception begins with acknowledging how you are contributing to something you don’t like.
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