The tragedy of self-deception and the gift of honesty

by Dandy

One of the biggest challenges to obtaining happiness is by living in denial and by telling ourselves lies and half-truths.  This self-deception enables us to live in negativity and invest in people who help us to create illusions.  This means we are resistant to acceptance, truth, and change.  If we didn’t resist, whether knowingly or unknowingly, we would have to see things in reality and possibly have to make big change and most importantly of all – take action.

When we deny and lie to ourselves, we:

*  Focus on somebody elses problems to distract from looking at ourselves.

*  Act happier than we feel, that we eventually lose touch with who we are, how we feel, and what our values are.  Bad behavior is seen as normal.

*  Become defensive or even aggressive when people say what we don’t want to hear.  This can result in us isolating ourselves, because we’re not ready to hear the truth.

*  Claim we want to make others happy, because it’s easier to do this rather than put the work into ourselves.  We think our happiness will be a by-product, but we end up often trying to make the wrong types of people happy.

*  Hold onto anger, frustration, and indignation for a long time.  We replay and analyse the situation.  Brood over the woulda, shoulda, coulda, and basically holding on “it” or “them” as a security blanket.

*  Create obstacles to why we can’t change or improve, and use these as reasons to remain fearful, and spend more time worrying than experiencing the reality of these fears.

*  Claim that the reasons we continue to engage with someone or something is for reasons that it’s not. 

*  Say it’s them not us.

*  Become so distanced from our true selves, that we become inauthentic, acting out of sync with our values, doing one thing and saying another.

Denial and lies let us keep telling ourselves the “story” that rolls around in our mind about what we believe to be true about ourselves, about other people, life, love, etc.

If we really want improvement and change in our lives that results in happiness, self-love, loving relationships, we have to minimise the lies and have an honest inner dialogue with ourselves so that we can get back to our real self.

This gives us boundaries, lets us know what feels right, wrong, good, bad, and basically treats us with respect, trust, kindness, and love.

We have all seen people participate in relationships where there are obvious red flags, but they were so wrapped up in all the illusions that they just didn’t see ir, or denied it.  They decided there were no problems, or that the problem was less than what it really was.  That if they love enough the problems will go away.  They think the good in the person outweighs or cancels out the bad.

To put an end to these deceptive illusions means minimising the amount of dishonesty in our lives, especially what we have total control over – ourselves.  No deceptions, no rose-colored glasses, no normalizing bad behavior.  No pretending to be or feel things that we don’t.  We will then stop being participants in unhealthy relationships and situations.  We will be able to catch ourselves and say, “no that isn’t the truth.”  There will be no excuses.  We will be accountable and we won’t shy away from the responsibility that we have to ourselves.

By stopping the denial and lying and start being truly honest, we will be more likely to take action and do something about a problem and actually find a solution.  But we must acknowledge the reality of the problem in the first place.

We will get over relationships if we stop trying to deny who the person is, their issues, and the holes in the relationship.  We will get over the lost love when we stop lying to ourselves about who they are, the truth of the situation, and our own feeling and learn to accept even the uncomfortable truth instead of trying to control people and situations through denial.

If we allow positivity to take up our lives, we will make positive decisions, find ourselves in positive situations, and we’ll become authentic. 

In what ways have you been in denial?  How have you been lying to yourself?  Have you made the decision to be honest with yourself?

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56 Responses to “The tragedy of self-deception and the gift of honesty”

  1. Dandy, right on. It is easy to get caught up in self-deception. And in my experience (and I have definitely experienced this), it often comes with good intentions (like people pleasing and trying to make others happy. But it can become abusive. It’s true, we treat people how to treat us (to put it like Dr. Phil). And usually we’re not even aware we’re doing it. But it becomes a lie we tell ourselves. It shapes our worldview. It shapes our perception of people. And if we would simply open ourselves up to the truth, we could free ourselves from this prison.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Bryan!
      You are right the lies and denial does shape our worldview and perceptions of people. Sometimes we have to find ourselves profoundly unhappy to get to the place where we start getting real with ourselves about why we are in such a miserable place. And other times there is a tiny voice in ourselves that says, “please listen to me”. I think that is our authenticity trying to speak out. I think sometimes our authentic voice comes out like a mouse and then ends up a roar!! Roar!!! Thanks so much Bryan for reading this long post:) Take care!

  2. Hi Dandy!
    There is SO MANY useful and honest tidbits in this post, it is hard to digest it all in one reading. You are right on the mark here.

    When I went through an incredibly difficult period that lead me to do some serious soul-searching I found that there were many things I was in denial about. The statement you made here rung so true in me:

    * Claim we want to make others happy, because it’s easier to do this rather than put the work into ourselves. We think our happiness will be a by-product, but we end up often trying to make the wrong types of people happy.

    I, for several years we so focused on people “liking” me that my choice of friends were not authentic. What a relief it was to finally accept myself to the point (after hard work and therapy) to choose my friendships thoughtfully and with the purpose of being who I REALLY am. When I find myself in a situation now that I feel the friendship is not authentic to ME, or I am working to hard to PLEASE, I can feel the red flag going up and catch myself.

    Thanks, Dandy, for the reminder of being honest, and truthful to ourselves!
    Love,
    Jen

    • Hi Jen,
      Yes, I too have been there – choosen all the wrong friends and lovers, so that I would be liked. Oh boy was that trouble:) Once I had a true understanding of who that person was I could see the lies I had been telling myself in order to keep that relationship, and acknowledged that I needed to make a break of it. Being honest is difficult because it means we have to look at all our mistakes. I’d rather learn from my mistakes and stop making them, than never learn at all. Thanks so much Jen! Take care of yourself!

  3. Wow Dandy, there’s so much here to comment on! I think you summed it up in this part:

    ” By stopping the denial and lying and start being truly honest, we will be more likely to take action and do something about a problem and actually find a solution. But we must acknowledge the reality of the problem in the first place.”

    So true. When we lie to ourselves, we cannot take responsibility and when we don’t take responsibility, no matter what we do will be ineffective. It’s like we’re boxing shadows, having no effect at all on what is casting them. Doesn’t it all begin with dropping the self-deception and having the courage to look your life right in the eye?

    It’s hard though, isn’t it, because often we don’t even know we’re deceiving ourselves. The unexamined life…

    Great post!

    • Hi Lori,
      I’m glad you were able to get through my long winded post 🙂 There was just so much to write about. When we find ourselves unhappy with where we are at in life and start to think about how we can make some changes, then it kicks in – all the things we’ve messed up. But this is a doorway to a new beginning. Sometimes we have to look at what doesn’t work, in order to find what does. Thanks for your great comment Lori!

  4. Hi Dandy,

    I really enjoyed reading this post.

    Self deception is such a difficult thing to work with because it’s easy to deceive yourself into believing that you are not involved in self deception. Ouch, the irony.

    You make a really good case here for the need to uncovering the seductive stories and patterns that keep us from being more aware of, and true to, our deepest selves. It involves a lot of trial and error,and for me, it’s something that needs to be revisited again and again. Thanks for the post.

    Cheers

    • Hi Dave,
      I’m glad you liked my post. The webs we weave are indeed seductive. When we tell ourselves what we want to hear, it means we have to go through alot of pain to finally get to that place where we are fed up. Unfortunately some people never get to that place. But the more we are able to identify our denials and lies we can stop them in there tracks. Thanks so much Dave. I hope to hear from you again!

  5. Wow, what a great question and challenge Dandy.

    I often hide from the hard questions because I already know the answers. Honesty takes courage; but with honesty we are able to live fuller, more authentic lives.

    There are few things I need to be more honest about – thanks for the prompt.

    Alex

    • Hi Alex,
      So happy I could help. We all have something we could be more honest about! I think if we weren’t works in progress, life would be really boring:) Take care!

  6. Hi Dandy,

    For many years I lived in self-denial and blamed others for the way my life was. I refused to take responsibility to bring about the change that I wanted to see in my life. Some a mindset did not change matters and for a long time I was miserable. Eventually I realized that this was a path to destruction and I needed to stop myself from continuing the way I was going.

    But taking charge is not easy, especially when you see that your friends are in their comfort zones. Who you mix with does indeed affect the level of success that you have in life. Yet once you are honest with yourself and take control, you awaken and never want to go back. Sure, I have not progressed as quickly as I would have hoped, but I have never stopped trying to move forward. There is no other way to live a fulfilling and authentic life unless we are honest with ourselves and take responsibility for it.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely reminder with us! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Hi Irving!
      Thanks so much for your comment! When I was writing this, I was wondering what you would think of it. You always give me such great feedback. I think you are right – that once we awaken to even a little piece of our truths we don’t want to go back. That happened to me. When I started to see how my own thoughts were affecting my life I was….intrigued and curious. I thought that if my negative thoughts were having a negative affect on my life, than it must be the same with how positive thoughts affect us. From there I really began to dig into my thiking. I became faced with my own truth. I didn’t want to go back. There were times when I did slip and reverted to old habits, but at least I was able to recognize them faster and stop. Every moment we breath is an opportunity to recogize our self-deceptions and turn towards the truth instead. Thanks so much Irving!!!

  7. Hello Dandy – deep topic here! really deep! Self-deception is powerful because people can live a lie, forget that the lie is a lie. If someone repeats a lie over and over and over – it becomes their truth. It’s how we’re wired up I guess. I’ve seen this before and it’s puzzling.
    A dream can do this to us. We can wake up after a 10 minute dream and have to really “think” if what we experienced was a dream or reality. I make note of this because I think we’re highly sensitive to information, especially regarding ourselves. It’s essential that we participate in the practice of treating ourselves kindly; with honestly no matter what. Easier said that done, right!

    You did a terrific job with this post Dandy. Your writing skills are excellent! Thank you

    • Hi Jk,
      Thanks for your compliment. I have a smile stretched over my face! Seeing the ways we decieve ourselves can indeed be tough. But every single moment is an opportunity to go inward and see the truth. We can make our truths more powerful than anything. Thanks again Jk!

  8. Hey Dandy,

    Awesome job here on the article!

    You have out done yourself this time. You always give a really deep perspective and I love it, because it’s something I won’t find anywhere else but here at reflectiveself. A person should never live in denial, because guess what? If you do then your setting yourself up for failure! Point black. Real recognizes Real.

    Look forward to what’s next!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

    • Hi William,
      I’m so happy you liked my post. I so agree with you – real does recogize real. Once I had a glimpse of my own self-deceptions, I couldn’t look away. I saw something that was contributing to my unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life. My own thoughts were the culprit. I was telling myself “stories” so I could avoid my own work. I was focusing on other’s problems, so I wouldn’t have to look at my own. When I recognized my own truth, it became easier to recognize all the lies. Thanks so much for reading my blog William, and thanks for that great compliment! It made my day!

  9. Why is it we know the answer to your question immediately! Authenticity and honesty go hand in hand. I’m steppin’ up my game.

  10. Hi Dandy! You’re absolutely right that we keep rolling a story in our minds and that we get so involved in other people’s business that we avoid working on what is really bothering us. When we bring the focus inside to what is really going on with us we have to stop denying ourselves and star accepting ourselves. There is a beautiful gift in this process of awareness and connecting more deeply with ourselves.
    Thanks for this reminder. Loving blessings!

    • Hi Andrea,
      I like what you said about there being beauty in the process of awareness. It is beautiful to awaken to our true selves! Once we free ourselves from the burden of other’s people issues we have the emotional capacity to focus on ourselves. Thanks for commenting Andrea!!

  11. This is so true. I use to be one of those people with the rose colored glasses on and thought if I loved someone enough everything would be fine. My wish for this article is that many people will read it an learn by it, so they don’t make some of the mistakes I did and have to learn the hard way. On the light side, life is trial by error sometimes and learning as we go. thank you very much reminding how far I have come. You put a smile on my face.
    Bless you,
    Debbie

    • Hi Debbie,
      I’m glad I could make you smile. You clearly have done some work on yourself. When I was writing this I found myself angry at all the years I spent lying to myself and making things so much harder than they had to be. But then I felt graditude that I was able to go inward and see that things weren’t working for me and it all had to do with my thoughts. Some people never get to that place where they are aware of the self-deception. That’s truely tragic. Not all of us are able to have smoothly paved roads on our journeys. I’ve learned from my ruts and potholes, & I’m grateful for them! I hope my post does help people!! Thanks so much Debbie!

  12. Hi Dandy,

    What a wonderful post! Self deception is such a disservice to ourselves and the world around us. And it is so interesting how I find, it can creep in so silently and go almost unnoticed at first, and before we know it, we forget who we are.

    You expressed so perfectly the ideas about how we live in our own personal denial and I so agree, unless we are ready to face up to what lies within us, we block ourselves from true being, true happiness, fulfilment and inner peace.
    Wonderfully written and like Debbie above, I hope that many people ready this post.

    • Hi Evita,
      I’m so happy and pleased you liked my post! Self-deception does creep in often unnoticed, that’s why we need some warning signs that we can recognize when we are heading down that path. Authenticity doesn’t require perfection – only awarness and commitment. Every moment is an opportunity to go inward & analyse what we are dong! Thanks for checking out my blog Evita!!!

  13. Hi Dandy,

    Very nice post! Self-deception is common my friend. One of the most “lies” people tend to say to themselves are “I can’t achieve my goals” I can’t succeed” “I can’t be happy” among other statements. The easier we get rid of the lies we say to ourselves, the better for us. Thanks for sharing Dandy 🙂

    • Hi Dia,
      Those are perfect examples of how we lie to ourselves or are in denial of our immense potential. Negative self-talk destroys our ambition and gumption. But once we are honest with ourselves we won’t want to turn our backs on that! Thanks so much Dia!!!

  14. *Gasp* How did you guess that I’ve been in self denial? Oh yes, I have been in denial of the truth for a long time previously. I refused to listen to my heart and got knocked hard because of it! I’ve crashed, fallen and sobbed many times over…until I finally learned my lesson. What is great is that without all these experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today…alive and kicking!!

    • Hi Evelyn,
      I know exactly what you mean. I too have been in that place of not listening to my heart, or thinking that I was listening when I really wasn’t. But it’s true, that we wouldn’t be where we are today if there had been no lessons! Thanks so much Evelyn!!

  15. When you choose to see everything as a blessing in disguise, you realize you are peeling the layers of the artichoke of you. At the centre is your heart and every choice and self-reflection is reconnecting you with what matters and empowering you to let go of what does not.

    • Hi Liara,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I was wondering what you would think of it! I love the idea of letting go of what doesn’t work for us. It is definately empowering! Take care Liara!

  16. i love that topic Dandy, i even wrote many posts about it before but yours is much more comprehensive, thank you dear for this post 🙂

  17. i love that topic Dandy, i even wrote many posts about it before but yours is much more comprehensive, thank you dear for this post :))

    • Hi Farouk!
      Wow, thanks for commenting on my post. You have been in my thoughts. Yes this article was a bit long winded, but there was just so much to write about. I found I could have gone on and on. But I’m glad you liked it! Please take care and be safe Farouk! You are in my prayers!!

  18. This is a very deep topic, and if I wrote all that’s on my mind right now, I’d probably crash your website, so I won’t 😉

    Seriously, I wonder how many people in this world has actually found their own voice? I believe I have found mine, but it’s pretty quiet and I can’t always hear it. I still hear my voice of doubt and fear from time to time, telling me to do this and that, which I know isn’t beneficial to me in the long run.

    I wish I heard my own, ‘true’ voice more often, but at the same time I realise that I need to do the work to bring it out, such as meditation and reflection.

    I think I’ll stop now! Thanks Dandy, you got the old noggin working overtime.

    • Hi Stuart,
      I’m glad I could make you think in a new way. It is challenging to really listen to our truths. Sometimes they squeek out and sometimes they roar. But you are right – meditation and reflection will get us to that place of honesty. Once we are there – we won’t turn around! Thanks Stu!!

  19. Dandy,
    As I read this – I am thinking about how often I do this – deceive myself – and am completely unaware. And I know this, because, I am becoming more aware. And in that process, I’m seeing how easy it is to “do what I’ve always done” even when it’s not what speaks from my heart…even when I deceive “me”…

    Anyway, reading here today…I’m going to really focus on that awareness…

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Lance,
      I’m so glad this brought you to awareness. Once we are in that place of awareness it is hard to turn back. Sometimes we all slip up and fall into old patterns & habits. That’s ok! Because with this awareness we are able to recognize the self-deception so much sooner. We can give our truths a powerful voice. Thanks so much for your comment Lance! I enjoy hearing from you!

  20. Wow, once again you have written about my life. Are you sure your blog isn’t just for me?!

    I lived most of my life in denial. Everything on your list is a perfect description of the old me. Probably the most obvious area of denial was about the impact of my son’s autism on me and on the rest of the family and on relationships.

    When I look back, I just can’t imagine how I lived like that. It took some deep commitment and several years of real soul work through various methods to break down that denial and to start living an authentic life. It was like moving from a dark scary place into an expansive place full of light.

    Thank you for another incredibly insightful post. And thanks for your get well wishes. I’m still in bed but at least back on the computer for a little while.

    • Hi Galen,
      This post is for everyman. We all have these self-deceptions and distortions. We are such victims of our egos. But no more. We totally have control over our thoughts and the “stories” we tell ourselves. Awareness is such a tremendous gift! When I look back, I too have some painful feelings being reminded of all the hurt that was completly self-imposed. How empowering to recognize this and reflect!! I love what you say about “moving from a dark scary place into an expansive light”. That’s beautiful and a perfect description of what happens to us when we come into our true selves. It’s all so very thrilling isn’t it?! Take care Galen and get better soon!

  21. Hi Dandy
    You know me and because of your father you have helped me more than anyone could with this article. I have been told everything that your article talks about by my girlfriend. I didnt listen. After I read this I cried all day. I went over to her house and she read the article. She told me that this was everything she was telling me for months. We cried and cried holding each other. You made me realize this was me and I had a problem, but I had to read it and not be told. Actually I have had this problem from a young age. Maybe it was learned behavior from my parents? I plan on turning my life around and not lie to myself any more. This will help me heal from my past and actually look forward to a future. I do believe its going to take some practice but I will change for the better for “ME”. God has blessed you with a wonderful gift Dandy and its going to help many people. This I know because Im going to tell everyone I know about it! Thank you Dandy…..I will Thank your father also with a kiss and hug. He is a true friend and has had alot of patience for me trying to help without hurting my feelings. I guess I just didnt want to hear the truth…..I needed to read it.

    Love Ronda Jo

    • Hi Ronda!
      Wow, you just blew me away! I’m thrilled this post had such a profound affect on you. It sounds like this new awareness is an open door to a life that is more honest and authentic. I think we have to be “ready” for certain kinds of information. We have to be in a place where it is safe to really confront old thinking habits and old beliefs. When we stop telling ourselves the “stories” that we do, it changes our perceptions of ourselves and life in general. It changes relationships with others, because we see ourselves so very differently. Coming to a place of deep honesty requires alot of inner work. But it is facinating work! For more great references, click around on some of the other websites on my blogroll list! Many of their articles will astound you. We are completly capable of changing our thinking, which then changes our feelings. We become more empowered, more positive, more motivated, more aware of what we weren’t open to in the past. We walk in the path of possibility and belief in ourselves!! Thanks Ronda! Please come back and let me know of what you think of my future posts! The best is yet to come!

  22. It’s a real challenge Dandy and one I continue to work at. Learning to trust my gut feeling has been something that I’m more comfortable with these days. I used to be so distracted by other peoples opinions, thereby losing the sense of my own. I’ve turned that around to quite a degree now and have a better balance. There is so much peer pressure around including the media. Thank you for a very honest and candid blog.

    • Hi Marty,
      Thanks so much for reading my blog. I’m so happy you like it! I think it’s wonderful you trust your gut feelings. Just today I had a feeling about somebody – that they weren’t trustworthy. I don’t know, my gut just said to be cautious with this person. I’m still civil and curteous with this person of coarse, but we have to listen to our instincts. I may be wrong about this person and that’s ok. That’s why it’s important to be civil and polite. But keeping a person at arms length is a good thing. That’s what boundries are after all. Anyway thanks for your great comment and I hope to hear from you again. Take care Marty!

      ~Dandy

  23. WOW Dandy, what a great post – I loved it!

    Like others I think that we all lie to ourselves at least one time in our lives. For me it has changed since I made the decision to align myself with my ‘self’. To drop the lies is the only way to live an authentic life…when you get to that point (and everyone who reaches it does it in their own way in their own time) it releases you and truly sets you free.

    Thank you Dany for putting so much energy into your post!

    • Hi Juanita!
      I’m so glad you liked this post! It can be difficult to face the lies, especially when we are hurt – we tell ourselves little lies & it makes it worse. Authenticity requires raw honesty. It really helps to have reminders like blog posts about authenticity to help us maintain our progress. Thanks Juanita for the comment! Take care!

  24. Dandy,

    Outstanding post and great question at the end. I have lived in a state of denial so many times in my life. It was easier to lie to myself than to face the truth. Honesty is necessary but difficult but in order for me to grow I had to learn to stop lying to myself. It is still a daily process and it gets easier and easier as the days pass on.

    I thank you for his post it has forced me to look at myself a lot more closely in the mirror.

    • Hi Frank,
      I too struggle with denial. I’ve spun some pretty intense illusions. You’re right it is a daily process. It can be a struggle to acknowledge honesty or even to recognize it. But we must if we ever want to really be happy. Thanks for your great comment and compliment!

  25. hello dandy
    how are you?
    thanks for sharing this and self deception is an absolute struggle.
    just look at:
    purchasing varous items on credit that we dont need but we desire to fit in and be recognised.
    staying in an abusive relationship because we think we love the individual or possibly believe we wont be accepted or loved by anyone else.
    becoming a people pleaser in order to gain acceptance and favors thereby compromising our standards …
    i still struggle with deception and i claim not to be perfect but it’s definitely work in progress.
    thanks for the nudge dandy
    take care of yourself and enjoy the rest of the day

    • Hi Ayo,
      It’s wonderful to hear from you! You gave some perfect examples of how the effects of self-deception can hurt our lives. It is a challenge to keep on the road to authenticity, but it a journey that we will never regret. It takes a commitment and the belief that we deserve to be happy! Thanks so much Ayo! Take care of yourself:)

  26. Dandy: Great post and I think this is such great advice for us all to follow. We really do have to be honest with ourselves and look to find our own answers and truths. If we try to deny what is really happening or cover up the reality of the situation, we will always be misguided. Thanks for the great wisdom.

    • Hi Sibyl,
      I think that being honest with ourselves keeps us out of trouble. The “stories” we tell ourselves can make things worse. Facing our truths is the best thing we can do for ourselves. Thanks Sibyl!

  27. Well this is interesting!

    I just came from Sibyl’s

    I have this copy & paste here from one of your replies that I was going to relate towards a comment I made at Sibyl’s!

    SIGNS??

    Nice to see you right above me Sibyl

    “Self-deception does creep in often unnoticed, that’s why we need some warning signs that we can recognize when we are heading down that path”.

    I was quetioning how to “decipher” “SIGNS” at Sibyl’s

    Authenticity?

    “If we allow positivity to take up our lives, we will make positive decisions, find ourselves in positive situations, and we’ll become authentic.”

    This last statement from your post is what meant the most to me.

    Thank you Dandy!

    • Hi Rand,
      I’m so happy you liked this post. The journey to authenticity is such a facinating one. The work isn’t always easy, but it is neccessary and we need to wrap our hearts in positivity. Thanks Rand!

  28. Why didn’t I find this post earlier? Keep up the good work!

  29. Good stuff. Self deception is tough. Its funny because the people who use it to feel better usually end up feeling worse because of the time they wasted indulging in their falsehood, could’ve been spent on genuine improvement of their situation. Great read. Glad I stopped to read it!

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