Self Deception = Personal Tragedy ...by Bill Knell
It's easy to get caught up in self deceit and that's one of the biggest reasons for problems that we experience in our lives. Most people don't purposely go out of their way to deceive others. There are those little white lies we tell to avoid hurting people's feelings, or the 'I finished that hours ago' fib we tell our boss to avoid completing an annoying task. While no lie is good or acceptable, the worst case scenario is when we start lying to ourselves.
People lie to themselves to justify bad behavior. Every day I receive tons of junk email from people desperate to make money. They want me to invest anywhere from one dollar to thousands in some wild get rich quick scheme they know will hurt thousands and benefit a few. Some even admit it! They talk about being "near the top" on an up or down line, which is scam-speak for those who will make a few bucks before the pyramid collapses.
Self-deception is unhealthy. It places the us in the position of living a lie 24/7 and ultimately catches up with those who do it. Self-deception is also dangerous because it perpetuates delusional thinking. The person who steals a few dollars a month from his company justifies the act by thinking himself ill-used by them. The man who cheats on his wife of many years justifies the act by convincing himself that she would do the same if she had the chance. The woman who cheats on her husband justifies the act by thinking that she has finally found true love with someone who understands her and treats her right. The terrorist who kills in the name of their Faith justifies the act by believing that God wants them to murder unbelievers instead of trying to convert them.
Self deception is not a victimless crime. The cruel results of self-deception are spread throughout our society. Children are left confused and betrayed by parents who leave one another to find some new form of imagined happiness. A spouse is left broken-hearted by the departure of their mate while they seek greener pastures. A company is devastated, investors lose their savings and people loose their jobs when a greedy CEO fudges earnings reports to help themselves to a richer lifestyle.
The ultimate result of self-deception is personal disaster. Despite the fact that self-deception might appear to deliver a temporary sense of power and accomplishment, that will soon be wiped away by the consequences of the act. The person who dates someone who is married fools themselves into thinking that that person will be true to them, while cheating on their current mate. The man who steals a little money from his boss every month, loses their job and any community statue they may have had when the act is found out. The terrorist who kills the innocent in the name of god ends up merely another criminal among other murderers in some dank jail cell and brings shame to the very Faith they were trying to serve.
There are ways to avoid self-deception and the devastating personal results it can render. If you're involved in some form of self-deception, put an immediate end to it. Self-deception loves company! If someone is egging you on to do things you know are wrong, separate yourself from them. Personal deception means personal consequences. Will they serve your jail time if you're involved in some crime or feed your children after your new girlfriend spends money meant for your ex-family?
Personal honesty can protect your from personal dishonesty. Stop lying to yourself! YOU are your own best protection from self-deception. Decide in advance how you will respond to most common situations. This will protect you from making impulsive decisions that may have devastating consequences. If your boss makes a mistake and over-pays you, let them know and make it right. If you're married and an attractive person flirts with you, let them know that you are already involved in a relationship. If someone emails you the answers to an important exam, report the matter and let those in charge know that you want nothing to do with that kind of behavior. No matter what happened yesterday, decide that today is a new day and that you are going to live it in the most honest way possible.
Like all behavior, personal deception is a choice. Sometimes it's tough to be honest with ourselves and others. No one likes to admit they've failed at something, but when it happens pick yourself up. Don't make excuses or blame others. For every one failure in your life, there are two chances to succeed. It's just a matter of effort. It's takes more effort for us to feel sorry for ourselves then it does to move on and find the next opportunity.
Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to yourself.