Self-deception

Have you ever heard yourself rationalizing something you've done by a applying a very selective perspective, or even distorting what is in front of you?

I can tell myself stories about I wish were true, rather than face what is.

"I would have called her on her birthday, but she was probably busy anyway."
Do I know that's so?

"I would have been on time, but there was so much traffic."
Everyone else arrived on time, via the same route.

"I wanted to visit your mother, but I've had bronchitis."
For three months?

A Big Bu
t figures prominently here, though I can also BS myself by invoking some authority who endorses what in my heart I know is not quite accurate:
"You're supposed to weigh more when you get older."

Ahem, how much more?

To grow more mindful and connected to life as I age means
calling myself on my own self-deception and facing life's inconsistencies and paradoxes without berating myself. I'm not wishing to be perfect, just real.

There is usually an underlying need that's met by keeping my own game going, and once uncovered, I have a s
hot at being honest with myself. A wish for ease and autonomy were speaking to me under those self-BS examples.

Friends or teachers can wake me up, but candor scares the living daylights out of many people and annoys the rest, to paraphrase Mark Twain. Some people do not have the courage and confidence to invite another to examine her thinking.

I can also mislead myself by fixating on a single tree, while the whole forest blazes.

It's supposed to fit like this, no, really it is.

He's telling me the truth, his eyes are like that because he's tired.

I'm uneasy about taking this job, but it will turn out OK.

PS:
Today is my friend Christine's birthday. Big hug to a woman of wit, spirit, generosity and beauty.

13 comments

Imogen Lamport said...

Isn't our own selective self-perception how we rationalise everything in the world to make it fit our 'view'?

I love the Halos and Horns theory - when we do something wrong, it was the 'situation' but when someone else does it's their 'personality' - we let ourselves off, but judge others way more harshly.

Happy birthday to Christine!

lagatta à montréal said...

Perhaps Silvio Berlusconi's self-deception and self-rationalisations have finally jumped the proverbial shark.

And Silvio is WAY over fifty...

Duchesse said...

lagatta: Silvio, Ma-donna! LOL over that one!

Imogen: I have heard, "We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions".

Mrs. Jane Doe said...

Great post! I think we all can agree that at some point and time we have used an excuse or two to justify something. But this post makes me think or wonder why we feel the need to do this. There is usually an underlying current...if we will only stop long enough to examine what that is.

I know of a woman that continually makes plans with some of us, goes to great lengths to set up a get together, plans everything out only to cancel at the last minute. She blames her ADD. This same woman had a dinner party at her home. The house was a total wreck. We all looked around as if to ask if we came on the wrong day or maybe did she plan this at their other home. No. She came in late from shopping and blamed her ADD. For club meetings, she is always extremely late. Guess what she blames? I am not judging or making light of those who have ADD but I often wonder if this particular case is not so much about ADD but LAZY.

What's really going on here? Why and...am I doing the same exact thing? Many times the very thing that bothers us so much about others is the very thing we do ourselves. Maybe not in the same way exactly but to some degree.

Interesting topic which will give much to think about. I love that and will look forward to others thoughts on this as well.

And...

Happy Birthday Christine! I hope it is a wonderful day for you and year!

Mardel said...

Sometimes I think self-deception is how we make the world bearable, but then again, perhaps if we actually let ourselves live with the truth we might make it bearable or is that another self-deception?

Duchesse said...

mardel: One of my colleagues used to say, "The truth shall set you free but it shall also make you miserable."

Duchesse said...

Mrs Jane: The question is, what request do you have of your friend? While she cannot change her condition, she may be willing to change some behaviours.

I had a friend who was always very late. I would sit in restaurants waiting for him. Finally I told him the facts (a minimum of 40 minutes the last three times) and asked him to to either be on time or to agree to meetings where time was not relevant (such as "stop by my house anytime Sunday afternoon", but no more dinner reservations.) He agreed.

(A specific request is essential, not a vague request like "be more considerate".)

Years later he told me that during subsequent therapy he learned that his lateness was an unconscious way of confirming his worth: "If you care about me, you will wait".

This is a long reply; I'm telling the story as one example of what can happen once feedback is given in a way the person can hear it.

Frugal Scholar said...

We can all look within on this one. Interestingly, the topic of self-deception is a standard essay exam question. I am teaching Paradise Lost right now and Milton's point is that, yes, Satan deceived Eve, and Eve attempted to deceive Adam, but the real problem is self-deception. Same for Sir Gawain!

Duchesse said...

Frugal: The time-honoured source of internal conflict, I guess! My friend Carroll once grabbed a friend's head (gently) and said, "You're LOOKING, Terry, but you're not SEEING."

Literature classes often introduce students to moral and ethical issues. Do psych or philosphy classes now ask students to engage in self-examination? Mine were all theory.

sallymandy said...

So true and well said. Thanks, Duchesse. The AA folks practice a "program of rigorous honesty," and I've been told that's the key to recovery from a most vexing life problem. An excellent lesson.

lady jicky said...

I really thought that when I get "old" I would have it "all together" - Huh!
Here I am in my 50's and I still "look the other way" or BS myself about this and that.
Its very disappointing.

Mrs. Jane Doe said...

Your feedback was wonderful and brought to my attention which makes perfect sense in the habits of my friend. I had an aha moment with several instances - thank you!

I think for me, it is about being considerate of another person's time and effort. Although I can understand the need as your friend expressed but it is still a selfish behavior. I love the way you handled it.

As much as my friend may feel the need in making people wait on her...I need to know that people respect my time as much as I do theirs.

You set a boundary and done in a way that gave your friend the choice to make on his own.

This has been a wonderful thought provoking post. I have so enjoyed the replies/thoughts.

see you there! said...

Interesting topic. I think we sometimes really see ourselves one way and people see us another. It is deception on a deep level I suppose. I appreciate it when I get feedback - if it is given with kindness that is.

Darla