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No satisfaction based upon self-deception is solid, and however unpleasant the truth may be, it is better to face it once and for all, to get used to it, and to proceed to build your life in accordance with it. – Bertrand Russell
We’re all lying to ourselves about something.
It might not be immediately obvious, but there’s something we’re telling ourselves that isn’t true…
…something that we’re denying.
It might not be a big thing like cheating on a partner or stealing, but there will be something that we’re not being wholly honest with ourselves about.
So, What Is It?
It can be hard to figure out what you’re actually lying to yourself about, especially if you consider yourself to be generally a ‘good’ person.
Often, lying isn’t a huge moral issue, but a personal one.
You feel at odds with something you are doing and feel the need to justify it in whatever way suits you best.
It may be that you turn a blind eye to the growing issues around climate change because you’re scared to admit what’s happening.
Or you tell yourself that your relationship will work because you want to avoid feeling like a ‘failure’ and being alone.
Self-awareness is so important, especially given that we’re constantly bombarded by inauthentic views over social media.
Many people chose to present their lives in a false way, which can be confusing when we’re trying to be as honest with ourselves as possible.
By being aware of the fact that we’re multi-dimensional, we can start opening our minds to the fact that we may be lying to ourselves, intentionally or not.
The first step is realizing that there’s always a layer below what we think – there’s our thought and there’s often a reaction to our thought that we overlook.
How Do I Know If I’m Lying To Myself?
Before you can begin to stop lying to yourself, you need to be able to identify instances where you are not being entirely honest.
Self-deception is not always easy to spot because we are good at it. We want to believe the lie because it is often easier to live with (in the short term) than the truth.
Here are four ways that you can tell if you are lying to yourself.
1. You Experience Physical Symptoms
You may find that you get very emotional or stressed about certain things in your life.
This may be a sign that you’re not being completely honest with yourself about what’s happening.
Relationships are a great example, as they’re something that most of us can relate to.
You may be with someone who you know isn’t right for you, but you’re trying to convince yourself that things will get better.
You might find yourself getting that horrible sick, anxious feeling when you think about your partner, only to brush it off quickly every time.
This is a sign that there is unease around your relationship that you need to be paying attention to.
Your emotional and physical reactions communicate much of what goes unsaid by the mind.
2. You Take Some Things The Wrong Way
One of the biggest lies you can tell yourself is that someone else’s opinion of you is true.
This is the saddest kind of lie in some ways, but it’s so easy to get into the habit of doing.
When someone says something negative about you, you believe it.
Regardless of how little truth there may be in it, or what the situation is, you accept their word over your own beliefs.
But the opposite is also a form of self-deception…
You may be in the habit of telling yourself, “they didn’t really mean that nice thing they said.”
You take compliments as insincerity. You assume the person merely said those things to be polite or to manipulate you in some way.
So you dismiss them as untrue and fail to take on board the positive statements others make about you.
Remember: there’s a fine line between humility and denial.
3. You Don’t Take Other Things The Right Way
That being said, some feedback that people give you does actually need to be acknowledged.
Do you simply brush off the important things that you’re told?
While some people struggle to ignore hateful or hurtful comments, others struggle to pay attention to the constructive criticism they need to be listening to.
Some of us are very good at getting into the mindset of “they’re just jealous, I know I’m doing well.”
This may be true in some cases, of course, but a lot of the time you need to let people give you suggestions and work toward bettering yourself based on them.
4. You’re Being The Person Other People Want You To Be
Are you trying to please certain people in your life?
Do you make choices based upon what other people would want you to do?
Whether you are submitting to the wishes of your overbearing parents or you are putting on an act to impress a romantic interest, ask whether you are being who YOU want to be.
Do you neglect to listen to your gut feeling and consider only what is going to make the other person like or love you more?
How Do I Stop Lying To Myself?
If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule: NEVER LIE TO YOURSELF. – Paulo Coelho
If you have identified that you often lie to yourself and say or do things that go against your true core values, what can you do about it?
Here are six methods that can help a great deal.
1. Make A Note Of It
Holding yourself accountable is so, so important in general, but especially when it comes to self-growth.
Writing down what you’re feeling about different topics is a good way to process it more clearly.
It may be that you don’t realize you’re lying to yourself because your feelings are either clouded or conflicted.
By writing them down in a journal, you can start to gauge your genuine feelings beneath whatever it is that may be masking them.
2. Say No!
There’s so much emphasis on being a ‘yes man’ and throwing yourself into every opportunity that comes your way.
This means that we often end up doing things we don’t really want to be doing.
We lie to other people and accidentally lie to ourselves in the process.
By saying things that aren’t true, you’re essentially betraying your inner self and ignoring your real feelings or intentions.
Try to take a breath before jumping in and agreeing to do something. Ask yourself if it’s really aligned with who you are and what you want to be doing with your time and energy.
It’s absolutely normal to say no to things, and it is very healthy to steer clear of things you know won’t serve you.
3. Get Some Perspective
It can get tricky to remember how you actually feel at times.
We’re so bombarded with feelings and thoughts through social media that it can be hard to know what’s actually ‘authentically us.’
By spending time with those who know you well, accept you, and love you, you can work toward discovering what you’re lying to yourself about.
You may find it difficult to be vulnerable with yourself, but it can oddly be easier to be vulnerable with others.
Drop the mask and see what really exists in your mind, you may be surprised at what you’ve been accidentally lying to yourself about.
Consider what’s holding you back from this level of honesty and what you’re trying so hard to cover up.
Doing this in a safe space, with someone you trust, is such a great way to learn more about yourself.
4. Be Vulnerable
On the note of being vulnerable, a lot of us lie to cover up our own insecurities.
We do this to other people by faking our successes in order to look less like the failure we think we might be.
We also do this to ourselves, by telling ourselves that we’re perfect and have no reason to change or alter our behavior.
Confidence and self-love are very important, but so is the ability to be humble!
Each time you find yourself denying certain things you may not have done very well or lying to yourself about how fantastically something has gone, stop.
Take a moment to question why you feel the need to cover things up so much.
You are your own safe space in so many ways, so there is no need to have a guard up around yourself.
You can be honest with yourself more so than with anyone else, so use that to open up.
Admit that you are struggling or that you could have done better – it doesn’t make you a bad person!
If anything, being so self-aware and open to improving yourself makes you an even better person.
5. Call Yourself Out
It’s hard to figure out what you’re lying about, but that just makes it even more important to be aware of when you catch yourself doing it.
Keep track of how many times a day you realize that you’re not being completely yourself.
The more often you do this type of activity, the more in-tune with yourself you’ll become and the sooner you’ll be more yourself.
Don’t judge yourself for your actions, but acknowledge when you’re lying to yourself and you’ll intuitively start learning to be even more self-aware.
This will also help you identify any triggers – it may be that you notice yourself lying every time you to talk to your boss or a certain friend.
This will help you figure out what’s really going on and you’ll hopefully start to find ways to move on.
6. Don’t Be Afraid Of Being Afraid
Some things just are scary, whether it’s admitting that your relationship isn’t going well or realizing that climate change truly is happening.
When we’re confronted with truths that make us uncomfortable, our natural instinct is to cover them up and pretend they’re not happening.
In this way, many of us lie to ourselves on a daily basis.
For example, we may tell ourselves that the videos we’ve seen of animal cruelty are all staged, as we tuck into a bacon sandwich.
It makes us feel better about our choices, despite the slight uneasiness we feel when we think of them.
If you’ve seen the videos and don’t feel affected, that’s fair enough. But to ignore our reaction to them and pretend we’re not bothered is lying to ourselves and is unhealthy.
You have to decide how you feel in order to know how to act, so choose either way and then act accordingly.
Still not sure how to stop lying to yourself? Speak to a therapist today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
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