We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.”― François de La Rochefoucauld
Dishonesty is a trait that most of us have no problem pointing out in others but find so difficult to call out when it refers to us. We take delight in finding fault in others but hide our dark side with great care. Given the unconscious nature of self-deception, becoming honest presents us with a serious dilemma: How do we know when we are lying to ourselves, and are we prepared to admit it? Now, Donald Trump seems to have no problem with lying. I was watching a programme where they said he has told 20,000 lies since he took office, the Washington Post calls it a “tsunami of untruths emanating from the Oval Office”. But is he lying to himself or just lying to the public? Does he even see the lies anymore?
Human beings are susceptible to self-deception because we have emotional attachments to our beliefs and the lies we have created. We start identifying ourselves with our set of beliefs and get locked into facts we have created to support these beliefs. We deceive ourselves to trust something that is not true so that we can better convince others of our untruths. When we convince ourselves of our untruths, then they are better placed to mask all the visible signs of our deceptions.
We are what we think. We become what we are prepared to think. We tell ourselves lies over and over again. Lies about our value, or worth, our destiny. Thoughts are things. Thoughts have energy and lead to feelings. These feelings lead to action, which lead to results and outcomes. Any result in our life can be traced back to a thought. If the life we are living right now is not what we expect it to be, it is because it started with a thought that this is what we deserved. Our future is as bright as the truths we tell ourselves. Or as dark as the lies we believe. It is as simple as that. Our thoughts create the reality of who we are today. I think Donald Trump creates the lie, then convinces himself that the lie is the truth, fabricates a set of facts to confirm the lie, and then goes about selling the lie, because he convinces himself wittingly or subconsciously to believe the lie to be true.
What’s the difference between lying and misleading?
And does it matter if our politicians don’t always manage to stay on the right side of the line? Here is an example “I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again – I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Was this the most blatant lie in modern politics? Or had Bill Clinton convinced himself, when he uttered those words in January 1998, that his physical relationship with Monica Lewinsky did not constitute “sexual relations”?
When we wear the disguise for too long, it will be difficult for any mirror to recognise ourselves. When we create our self-image and that self-image is built upon a lie or a bundle of lies, we find it very difficult to untangle ourselves from the lies we have created or the stories we have told ourselves or others about ourselves. That self-image created on a lie, if it was called out, would have a dramatic impact on our lives. Many times, we think that most people love us for who us for who we pretend to be. To keep their love, we keep pretending and performing to our lies. The scary thing is, that we grow to love our pretence and get locked in an image, an act – or a dance with our lies. The sad thing is, we get so used to our image, we grow attached to our masks. We grow to love the chains that hold us locked to the lies and we forget all about who we really are- like a twisted Stockholm Syndrome we have with ourselves.
How would your life be different if you stopped allowing yourself to lie to yourself or others? Are you polluting your brain with your own dirty shoes?
Humans are masters of self-deception. We fool ourselves into believing things that are false and we refuse to believe things that are true. In fact, we lie to ourselves about just about everything.
Many times, when I coach, I hear some of the lies we tell ourselves:
- IF I COULD JUST X, then my life would be amazing
- IF I HAD MORE TIME, I WOULD DO Y and things would then change for me
- IF I SAY OR DO ABC, PEOPLE WILL THINK I’M STUPID and not value me.
- IF I JUST SAY OR DO X, THEN THAT PERSON WILL FINALLY CHANGE and our relationship will get better
- EVERYTHING IS GREAT/EVERYTHING SUCKS IN MY LIFE
- THERE’S SOMETHING INHERENTLY WRONG OR DIFFERENT ABOUT ME.
- I WOULD CHANGE, BUT I CAN’T BECAUSE OF ABC that stop me.”
Wear a mask long enough and it becomes your reality.
Play a role long enough and it becomes who you are.
Spend enough time pretending something is true and you end up believing it to be true
It’s common for people to only say the parts of the truth that they feel are acceptable or that they think people want to hear, leaving the full truth hidden away. They may lie by omission or tell “little white lies” that paint a very different picture of reality. It’s no surprise that these lies don’t just hurt relationships, they can outright destroy them. Even lies told in the name of protecting others can leave you feeling pretty bad about yourself, because you don’t feel like an authentic, strong individual when you aren’t being honest.
So when do we lie to ourselves?
We lie when deny a problem that we don’t want to face. We invent excuses to rationalise bad behaviour rather than see when it is wrong. We try and talk ourselves out of a problem we behaved ourselves into. We project our own feelings onto someone else and believe they are wrong so that we can convince ourselves we are right.
We act like kids, stamping our feet and refusing to listen to reason, when someone challenges a lie, in order to distract and mislead. We focus on something else instead of what the real problem is.
So, why do we lie? We lie because the truth is too difficult to face. We lie because we are afraid of the shame. We lie because it makes things easier. We lie because it’s all we’ve ever known. We lie because we are afraid. We cannot be honest with others until we first are honest with ourselves. When we deceive ourselves, we often burden and damage ourselves and relationships. Being honest requires deliberate effort on a daily basis, as well as tolerating some painful realisations. Being honest with ourselves can change our world and in the end change the world.
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
Author: unknown monk around 1100 AD
I tell this story because the genius hidden behind all the lies needs to be realised. That inner child so unique to you must be allowed to shine, because that is who you were meant to be and who the world needs you to be. Stop lying to yourself. The world is complex; you cannot live a lie and leave the footprints you were meant to leave. Furthermore, lying only grants short-term results and make for an unhappy uncomfortable life. Begin by telling yourself the truth. Tell yourself the truth in your personal relationships, your career, your thoughts and in your most important relationship — the one you have with yourself. This is where the greatest, most fantastical and dangerous lies are told. Make a shift. Start telling the truth. Level-up, eliminate the B.S. and lead the world to what it needs-The real you.
THE MENTAL FILTER – 5 questions to ask yourself
- Do you live your authentic self? Do you feel you are living your purpose? Do you know your purpose?
- Do you find yourself lying about or exaggerating what you do in your day?
- Do you push yourself to your limits or are you too afraid to fail or look like a failure in front of others?
- Do you make excuses? Do you complain about not having enough time or money to do things that fulfil you or scare you?
- Do you find yourself saying everything is great- when it is not or saying everything is awful – when in truth, there may be one thing worrying you?
Give yourself a gift today, sit and be really and truly honest with yourself, answers these questions and unmask yourself- It really will change your world and in the end change the world, and allow you to live your true and authentic self.
I can take you to success. I coach ordinary people every day to do extra-ordinary things. I coach extra-ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. The difference is those who have a dream, and are prepared to follow said dream, are extraordinary, and just need a structure and support system to kick off that journey, which will finish with them sliding in fast sideways to the grave, totally worn out from the relentless living of their dreams, screaming out loudly “Wow holy sh*t, what a ride!”
If that is you – start today! If you are looking for coaching on change for yourself or your organisation, or would like more information on the work we do on Personal, Professional, or Organisational Change, please contact us on email@example.com
About Dr Maurice Duffy
Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.