Lies are a little fortress; inside them, you can feel safe and powerful. Through your little fortress of lies, you try to run your life and manipulate others. But the fortress needs walls, so you build some. These are the justifications for your lies. You know, like you are doing this to protect someone you love, to keep them from feeling pain. Whatever works, just so you feel okay about the lies. – William Paul Young
Dishonesty is a trait that most of us have no problem pointing out in others.
We feel a sense of anger, disgust, and mistrust towards those who try to deceive us. In fact, deception is such a dishonorable quality to us that we spend large amounts of our time reading about shady politicians and watching shows that center around lying and cheating characters. Secretly, it feels good to point the finger at others because it makes us feel morally righteous.
But here’s the truth:
at the end of the day, most of us fail to see that we also lie – to ourselves – frequently.
Sadly, most people aren’t willing to explore their hidden tendencies and face the truth. Deception is such a despicable quality that we would rather disown it than face it honestly. Unfortunately, the more we disown our darker tendencies, the more deeply we bury them within our Shadow Selves, and the more delusional we become. And the more delusional we are, the less mental and emotional clarity we have, which leads to a legion of problems. Some of these problems are life-destroying.
4 Reasons Why We Lie to Ourselves
If deceit is such a contemptible quality, why do we lie to ourselves? Here are a few reasons why:
- It’s comfortable – you don’t have to face the hard truth
- It’s convenient – you can keep doing the same thing without having to change anything
- It makes you feel better about yourself (preserves self-esteem)
- It helps you to avoid self-responsibility for your actions
For example, a man who cheats on his wife may justify his actions by saying, “If only she had given me more affection and love, I wouldn’t have strayed.” This justification, of course, is a form of self-deception because it prevents the man from fully coming to terms with what he has done. Furthermore, lying to himself helps him to preserve the belief that he’s a “good and faithful” person.
Examples of Self-Deception
The following examples might help to deepen your understanding of self-deception more. See if you can relate to any of these examples:
A woman gets a high-paying attorney job at a popular firm. After months in her job, she begins to experience chronic illness and panic attacks. Convinced that she’s just going through a bout of bad health, she continues working in her high-stress job until she has a nervous breakdown.
A man is in a relationship with a woman who he believes is his soulmate. The man continues to believe that the woman loves him, even after she has repeatedly told him that she wants to break up.
A student is preparing for a college exam. He finds himself frequently procrastinating and keeps telling himself that he’s “not in the mood to study.” He then takes the exam and fails. In reality, he was procrastinating because he was scared of the pressure that comes with good grades.
A woman has joined a local church. She loves hearing sermons about love, acceptance, and compassion. But after the ceremonies, she observes that the fellow churchgoers are judgmental, racist, and narrow-minded. She turns a “blind eye” on the behavior of these people, convincing herself that she is on the “right moral path.”
A man decides to become a monk. He believes that his choice comes from the desire to live a religious life. In reality, his choice comes from the desire to escape his problems.
A couple loves to travel. But it isn’t traveling to other countries that they really enjoy; it is escaping from their inner sense of emptiness.
An entrepreneur keeps being offered amazing opportunities to expand her business, but she turns them all down. She keeps saying, “I don’t have time,” and “I have too much work.” The truth is that she’s scared to expand because she lacks self-confidence.
9 Signs That You’re Lying to Yourself
Are you lying to yourself? Answering this question can be hard because our self-deception is so often unconscious.
But if you suspect that you might be lying to yourself, congratulate yourself! It takes a tremendous amount of courage and self-awareness to even entertain the possibility. It can be scary to own up to the fact that you might be deceiving yourself, but this honesty will take you far on your spiritual path.
Here are some signs you should look out for:
1. You feel like you’re running away from something
It’s hard to admit … but you feel like you’re trying to escape something; maybe a thought, a realization, a harsh truth? Something is lurking in the darkness, and you don’t like it. You feel the need to escape, but you don’t know why.