Do it yourself

Quit Lying to Yourself – The Atlantic

Summary

“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his new podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.

No one wants to be seen as a liar. Liars are considered untrustworthy at best and immoral at worst. And yet, we are perfectly content to lie to ourselves all the time. “I’ll …….

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“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his new podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.


No one wants to be seen as a liar. Liars are considered untrustworthy at best and immoral at worst. And yet, we are perfectly content to lie to ourselves all the time. “I’ll enjoy this sleeve of Oreos today because my diet starts tomorrow,” I might tell myself. Or, “I love my job; who cares that I complain about it constantly?” Or even—ironically—“I am always honest with myself.”

Deceiving yourself shouldn’t make logical sense. After all, lying involves telling someone something you know to be untrue. When you are both the liar and one lied to, this means you have to both know the truth and not know the truth. In practice, that means willfully disregarding key knowledge to arrive at a conclusion that is more convenient than what the facts appear to suggest.

Everyone self-deceives, but that doesn’t make it harmless. At high levels, it is associated with poor mental health. At moderate levels, it can temporarily protect the self-deceiver from bad feelings but still presents a barrier to the deep well-being that comes from living with integrity. To be really happy, we must learn to be completely honest with ourselves.

Relatively few people are completely honest with others. Research from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on undergraduate students found that 60 percent lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation, and many lied multiple times. Distorting reality inside your own head might be even more common. As one scholar summarizes the evidence, “All humans have self-deceptions.” No one is completely honest with herself, because, well, the truth hurts. Accuracy in perceiving the world is actually a common feature of depression, sometimes referred to as “depressive realism.” Life is simply full of harsh realities. If you want a glimpse into this, consider the last time someone left a room you were in and you cracked a joke at his expense. Deep down he knows this is happening, because he probably did the same thing once when you left the room, yet he has to disregard this knowledge in order to get on with his day.

Sometimes, people engage in self-deception to protect their ego or gather courage. Former Senator Al Franken famously embodied that phenomenon on Saturday Night Live when he played an irritating, cloying self-help television-show host named Stuart Smalley who used the catchphrase “I’m good enough, I’m smart …….

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/11/self-deception-honesty-lying/620739/