This week, I discuss how lying to yourself only creates pain and suffering for you and others. Then, I delve into the solutions to avoid self-deception.
Table Of Contents
- Understanding Self-Deception
- Why We Lie To Ourselves: Unveiling the Psychology of Self-Deception
- The Effects of Self-Deception on Personal and Social Well-being
- How To Stop Lying To Yourself
- 1) Admitting Your Vices: A Step Towards Breaking Free from Self-Deception
- 2) Eliminating Negative Influences: A Key to Avoiding Self-Deception
- How To Identify, Remove, And Overcome Bad Influences
- 3) Goal Achievement: A Pathway Out of Self-Deception
- Embracing Honesty: The Path Forward from Self-Deception
- Actionables: Practical Steps to Combat Self-Deception
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Self-deception is “allowing oneself to believe that a false or unvalidated feeling, idea, or situation is true.”
Lying to yourself requires understanding, acknowledging, and rejecting the truth. A good example is understanding the dangers of obesity, acknowledging its harm, and frequently eating junk food anyway.
But a crucial step is rationalizing your rejection by arguing for whatever is untrue. You can continue to eat junk food despite the reality of obesity. But more and more people argue that obesity is a good thing, which is a lie. The advocacy for what is untrue is self-deception.
Such deception destroys your capacity to trust your judgment and see yourself as honest.
If you are willing to lie to yourself about some things, you will lie to yourself about everything, big or small.
Why We Lie To Ourselves: Unveiling the Psychology of Self-Deception
Exploring the psychology of self-deception reveals two main reasons we lie to ourselves:
- We want to enjoy vice – Humans are rational creatures. We seek to justify our actions to ourselves and others. If we enjoy a vice and find it hard to let such a vice go, then we are more likely to rationalize that vice. This rationalizing leads to lying. Vice creates dysfunction; dysfunction creates shame. If we lie about the vice, we can avoid the shame that comes from the inevitable dysfunction.
- Secondly, we dislike authority – When appropriately done, authority provides guidance, direction, and leadership so individuals can pursue virtue. Most authorities, from CEOs to government officials, are corrupt and feed into our broken, exploitative systems. So when anyone, including ourselves, wishes to exercise authority and place limits on our actions, we see this as unjust power.
The Effects of Self-Deception on Personal and Social Well-being
The effects of self-deception extend beyond personal harm, as it detaches us from reality and impacts our relationships with others.
Humans exist in an objective world. We all acknowledge this. No subjectivist believes he doesn’t have to eat because starvation is just his subjective perception of reality. Therefore, denying reality is about manipulating others and ourselves.
We must create the necessary systems to maintain those lies when we lie to ourselves. Such systems require constant maintenance, which drains individuals of time, energy, and effort.
For example, when people state “healthy at any size,” they harm themselves and others. Firstly, obesity is objectively bad; life is precious and worth living. Obesity makes life more challenging, contributing to health issues and mental problems. It diminishes an individual’s quality of life.
Secondly, to maintain the lie of “healthy at any size,” we must restructure society to promote this nonsense. Entire cultural institutions will print bogus articles supporting obesity, research centers may flub data to promote this lie, and people may be canceled because they do not support the lie. This leads to resources being diverted to what isn’t true, and lives ruined for seeing and acknowledging the truth.
People struggle with their weight and should be supported, but we should never lie that such unhealthy lifestyles are good. As with all vices, we should have sympathy and clear goals for how the individual can overcome what ails them.
Self-deception, like all dysfunction, does not limit itself to the individual. Therefore, lying to yourself should be avoided for the sake of society.
Strategies to Overcome Self-Deception
Overcoming self-deception starts with building personal trust. If you can’t trust yourself, you can’t take a journey to achieve great things. Your vices and your desire to fulfill them will limit you.
Let’s delve into the ways you can fight back against your self-deception.
1) Admitting Your Vices: A Step Towards Breaking Free from Self-Deception
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” – Soren Kierkegaard
A crucial step in breaking free from self-deception is to admit your vices. Trying to bury the guilt and shame that comes from pursuing vice is what wastes your resources. We know our various vices are destructive and never produce long-term happiness. We also know these vices spread dysfunction to others.
So many vices, big and small, create dysfunction. Gossip can corrode our empathy and injure innocent people’s reputations. Pornography is tied to sex trafficking and can rewire an individual’s brain for the worse. Overeating creates obvious health issues while driving up the cost of healthcare for everyone. Remember, no vice is limited to the individual.
To combat your vices, you must admit they are harmful. Such admittance gives you the foundation to push back. You won’t have to lie about the bad you are doing when you recognize the wrongness of your actions. And remember that struggling with a vice does not make you evil, terrible, or unworthy.
From there, you have to come up with a plan. You’re not going to beat yourself up for your faults. You need to act towards the good you can produce if you become a better person.
Each vice you have will tempt you in ways that are unique to you. You have to note what you struggle with and find the resources that can assist you in overcoming those struggles.
2) Eliminating Negative Influences: A Key to Avoiding Self-Deception
We are individuals. However, we are influenced by our culture. The goal is to respond with hostility toward the people, ideas, institutions, media, and entertainment that support evil. Such evil influences will do two things to you:
- Belittle you and your beliefs. The constant attack is not healthy for the soul. If you are continually doubting your abilities and beliefs, you are in a weak position to excel forward.
- Trick you into believing your vices are good. The ruling classes, elites, and mobs love vice. They enslave you by convincing you that your vices are good. If you love vice and they control those vices, they will rule over you.
How To Identify, Remove, And Overcome Bad Influences
Firstly, you have to possess a strong moral value system. You’re an individualist. Why? What makes individualism better than the alternatives? What benefits do voluntary, virtuous ideologies grant to your life and others? You must understand and absorb why you value what you value.
Secondly, you must compare your ideal beliefs to what you see. Who aligns with your values? How do you know? This process takes careful observation of the world around you. What makes you feel insulted, drained, and saddened is meant to hurt and belittle you. Never deny your gut; always think clearly about what people are trying to get you to do and believe in.
Lastly, you must ignore and push away bad influences. For example, you have to drop the deadbeat, drug-addict brother who only comes around when he needs money. But you also have to limit your time around weak individuals who are hostile to your ideas.
Furthermore, you need to reduce your time-consuming works meant to demotivate and devalue you. Entertainment that celebrates evil is worthless. Instead, consume works that elevate and celebrate what is virtuous.
If you consume terrible works or support terrible people, you will feel bad for doing so, because your subconscious knows you should be doing better. Avoiding the people and things that drag you down is the best way to evade shame and the desire to lie to yourself about that shame.
3) Goal Achievement: A Pathway Out of Self-Deception
“The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Procrastination and excuses add fuel to the fire of self-deception. If we can work but choose not to, we create the guilt that empowers self-deception.
Remember, people always want to rationalize their shortcomings and flaws. You will lie if you have a lofty vision for your life but won’t take the necessary steps to improve. “I’m too tired,” “There isn’t enough time,” or “I’ll do it tomorrow.” These words ring hollow, and you know they do.
Your solution is painful but straightforward: demand more from yourself. You have to remove the excuses and inspire yourself to greatness. You must create the ideal in your mind and the goals that help you achieve that ideal. Then, you have the daily practices you must do to achieve your vision. Your mental health is won or lost based on how seriously you take the daily goals you set before yourself.
Embracing Honesty: The Path Forward from Self-Deception
The “need” to lie to yourself comes from the shame and guilt of failing to reach your full potential. When we procrastinate, seek comfort over virtue, and love our vices, we create the pain we must escape. Such running leads to self-deception and the madness that follows.
Self-deception springs from our innate desire to avoid the discomfort of truth, especially when it challenges our deeply held beliefs and habits. Yet, the cost of self-deception is high – it limits our potential and hinders our relationships and personal growth.
You have to resolve the issues at hand. Virtue is your best ally. You will suffer but rise above your limitations and the shame that keeps you down. You won’t force yourself into victimhood, another slave to the ruling classes or the mob.
Stop the lies, embrace virtue, and Become An Individual.
Actionables: Practical Steps to Combat Self-Deception
- Identifying Self-Deception:
- Reflective Journaling: Start by keeping a daily journal. Each day, write down instances where you might have lied to yourself. This could be about your habits, beliefs, or actions.
- Asking Key Questions: For each instance, ask yourself:
- What was the lie?
- Why did I tell this lie to myself?
- How did it make me feel?
- What did I think this lie would solve or resolve for me?
- Overcoming Vices:
- Identifying Vices: Make a list of your vices or negative habits. Be honest and comprehensive.
- Developing a Plan: For each vice, develop a specific plan. This plan should include:
- Concrete steps to overcome the vice.
- A timeline or set milestones for progress.
- Strategies to deal with potential setbacks.
- Seeking Support: Consider seeking support from friends, family, or professional counselors to help you stick to your plan.
- Building a Strong Moral Value System:
- Personal Reflection: Regularly reflect on your values and beliefs. Ask yourself why these values are important and how they guide your actions.
- Removing Bad Influences:
- Audit of Influences: Conduct an audit of the people, media, and institutions in your life. Identify which ones have a negative influence on you.
- Action Plan: Create an action plan to reduce exposure to these negative influences. This might include unfollowing certain social media accounts, spending less time with certain people, or changing your consumption habits.
- Setting and Achieving Goals:
- Goal Setting: Write down your short-term and long-term goals. Ensure these goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART).
- Action Steps: Break down each goal into smaller, actionable steps.
- Accountability: Find an accountability partner or use digital tools to track progress.
- Reflecting on Progress:
- Regular Check-ins: Schedule weekly or monthly check-ins with yourself to assess your progress on these actionables.
- Adapting Strategies: Be prepared to adapt your strategies based on what is or isn’t working.
Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.