Posted by: Chris­™ | January 13, 2008

The Mendacious Self

In my last post, I touched briefly on the idea of self-deception. I thought that perhaps I might expound upon this point a little and in a few more situations as well.

In truth, we are all masters of this trait; some more than others. On one hand, it might be perceived as a necessity for progression through life. Conversely though, it possesses many obvious pitfalls that obstruct that same progression and impacts us quite negatively.

As mentioned in part priorly, we can all be very good at lying to ourselves. We are sincere in what we say at the moment we say it, but beyond this, all real effort might be ignored and the actual whimsy of what we have stated is then revealed. We may want the end result, but we are not always so willing to work through the method towards this end.

Not only are we guilty of this in day to day tribulations, but so too do we tend to commit this self-sophism when interpreting our pasts. Often in the past we have done things we regret, or are ashamed of, or just events and actions we can’t quite comprehend. As such, we tend to choose a favorable interpretation of these events that, while pleasing to us, is not very close to what actually occurred. Or, an even greater deceit of self, we simply choose to (conveniently) forget parts or all of our past.

Obviously, the reasons for why we might lie to ourselves are innumerable and infinitely varied, but there are a few typical reasons that this act occurs. Foremost of these reasons is that we simply don’t wish to face the immediate reality of a situation, which may be difficult and/or force us to feel a little ashamed of ourselves. Frequently, we just don’t want to acknowledge that there might be a flaw we possess or have committed. It is far easier to think of ourselves in a certain manner and not allow this view to be altered, even by actual facts and events. We might even use the excuse that we need to ‘put the past behind us’ in order to be better people in the present. Regardless, there remains the simple actuality that in all cases there is a truth we are avoiding.

Another common occurrence of self-deception, but one that can sometimes be construed as positive, is the artificial construction of a ‘fresh start.’ For the same reason that people make resolutions on New Year’s day (which is actually an arbitrary time if you consider it), often others might decide to reinvent facets of their personalities or areas of their lives beginning at some capricious moment. Those involved with this not only create false moments of ‘new beginnings,’ but frequently will choose to discard all events prior to these moments as part of the past and of little importance. However, this can lead to positive advances despite the method.

Ultimately, I believe that self-deception is an unconscious reaction; something that is very useful to us for getting through life with less strife. Some might say that if we reflected too deeply on every flaw and failure, then we would never move forward at all. Still, I can’t help but believe that self-deception is the defense mechanism of the lethargic and the irresponsible. If one is willing, then it is perfectly plausible to be truthful in interpreting reality and also to be accepting of flaws (in place of sheer avoidance). It takes a strong individual to be truly honest, but in that same regard, it is the honest person who grows more. This doesn’t infer being unnecessarily harsh and cruel to yourself, but rather it means (at great difficulty) trying to be impartial and open instead of biased and evasive.

So, in interpreting the past, why not simply be truthful with yourself? Accept failures and weaknesses as learning experiences and keep their memory in your mind so that you don’t repeat such mistakes.

In creating new beginnings for yourself, why not simply accept that change is gradual? Set goals and paths to follow, but don’t expect to change in a day, nor expect that all your previous problems will be left behind because you will it so.

On the whole, self-deception recognized or not is still deceit. Counter with honesty.

Ah, I do say a lot of things regarding virtuous actions, but I so frequently need to debate if I can abide by my own words. 

Thanks for reading! fdfd

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Responses

  1. The funny thing about this post is that I don’t think you mean to give advice so much as an unbiased analysis, but in the end you come up with the only logical and moral conclusion. It’s like advice that gives itself and it also makes perfect sense.

    Very cool.

  2. Hi!

    I just started reading your blog. I really like the entries here. You should check mine out too!

    Thanks! Bye!

  3. Glycerine: Ah. You’re overestimating me. I just ramble. But thank you for your kind words!

    Akira: Thanks for reading. I note that your page seems to be down though.

  4. To answer you’re comment, The NYC Toasters are a ska group that have been around since the mid-80s. And still tour today doing mostly small bar shows of about 50-100 people. An awesome band with an amazing sound. Very fun.

    Also. Your post here hurt my brain.

    Thanks for readin!

  5. Fotonurth: Ah, alright that sounds entertaining. I find Ska bands are probably the most diverse musical genre in terms of the difference from group to group. So, I don’t really have a clear picture of what they might sound like, but it’s probably intriguing.

    Also I don’t know if hurting your brain is a compliment or a fault, but thanks for stopping by anyways =P

  6. “Some might say that if we reflected too deeply on every flaw and failure, then we would never move forward at all… Accept failures and weaknesses as learning experiences and keep their memory in your mind so that you don’t repeat such mistakes.”

    Glycerine accurately expresses my impression of this post. However, these quotes coupled form another aspect you touched only briefly.

    There are certainly many faces of self-deception; deceiving yourself in making negative actions or events have a more positive nature (or simply removing them from memory) can be beneficial for perpetuation, however dishonest and prolonged it may be. On the converse but equal face, there is the great twisting of reality of giving negative events and actions – and more often than not positive events and actions – a more negative connotation. This comes from dwelling on the past in lengths of extremities, dwelling on all minute faults regardless of the overall reality. In this way I do believe it is possible to learn from your faults; but since you are not impartial, it is impossible to put them into action, to let them become learned wisdom and philosophy of yourself.

  7. It’s a compliment. As for The Toasters, they’re original ska, you can find them on youtube. Or find their site on google, its got free tracks.

  8. Truth sometimes parades itself as a big ugly monster about to swallow its prey in its entirety. How could one not be a little frightened? :)

    On a different note, what’s you favorite Zep song? Mine’s Achilles Last Stand. I could be in the minority here.

  9. Rev: I agree you can’t be impartial when concerning yourself, but I think it’s entirely possible to find a strong element of truth in what you do and have done. Using this as a focal point, I think we can indeed learn from ourselves and put these lessons to action. If not, then we will end up making the same mistakes over and over.

    fotonurth: Haha. Alright mate, I will do just that. Thanks for the compliment =P

    Chris: This is true! But you can’t be a hero if you don’t slay the dragon!

    Also are you kidding me or what? My favorite two Zepp songs are Ten Years Gone and Achilles Last Stand. Don’t turn out to be my Doppleganger please!

  10. Alright, Mr. dragon slayer… what’s the head count so far?

    Hey, I’m just holding you accountable. :)

    Oh, and don’t worry. I can’t be your Doppleganger. Since you’ve trademarked your name, I now have to come up with a new one. Great!

  11. Enjoy. ^.^

  12. Chris: Haha. I only gave the best course of action! I never stated that I always followed it. Fair enough though. :P

    Yeah, all other Chrises in the world have to find some other identity, because this one is mine.

    Fotonurth: Haha, they’re a pretty cool band. I found about 8 or 9 different videos last night. Pretty unique stuff too.


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