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!