When was the last time you lied to somebody? Chances it was in the last week. In fact, you’ve probably lied several times in your last interaction with a group of people. It’s okay; we all do it; it’s just a part of human nature.
But when was the last time you lied to yourself? That’s a different ball game, but no different. The reality is we all lie to ourselves as well. “I don’t have a drinking problem; I just enjoy a beer after work.” “I’m going to replace this $100 in the family bank account, I just need it to make this bet, and I’ll replace it with the winnings.” Those are just examples of how we lie to ourselves, but why do we do it?
Sure, lying to others is understandable; we do it for many reasons. But why do we kid ourselves? What’s the purpose behind that? Lying is rooted in universal ethics and is part of the natural instincts we develop as children.
However, despite learning this behavior as children, we also learn its consequence. None of us want to be identified as a liar. It hurts our credibility and reputation with others, making us societal outcasts that no one can trust.
If we’re tempted to lie to others, our natural tendency to feel guilty about ourselves prevents most of us from going off the rails. When people lie to us, and we discover the transgression, we tend to view the other person in contempt, we can no longer trust them, and we find their behavior despicable.
So, why do we lie to ourselves, then?
Why Do We Lie to Ourselves?
The funny thing about lying to ourselves is that we don’t have any problem with it. We don’t even bat an eye at this behavior because we don’t think it’s an issue. For some reason, we’re more conditioned to find it offensive and deplorable when others lie to us rather than when we do it to ourselves.
We are not nearly as easily motivated to look at our transgressions. We don’t subject ourselves to the same suspicion we place on others when assessing if they’re being truthful with us. As humans, we want to feel coherent and intact, and realizing we’re lying to ourselves shatters this myth and our self-image.
We lie to ourselves when we aren’t honest with ourselves about our motives, and no one likes the thought of overhauling their identity to face the lies they tell themselves. We lie to ourselves when we have a selfish reason, but we like to think we’re acting unselfishly.
This behavior is common when we’re not honest with ourselves about our authentic desire to achieve something or to falsely rationalize or justify our behavior or that of others. We’ll also lie to ourselves when we refuse to see past our beliefs, impressions, or judgmental stereotypes of our character and that of others.
So, all of these ways we lie to ourselves seem to trace back to a common thread – self-protection. Lying to ourselves gives us a false sense of protection from reality, thoughts, and behaviors. The truth is, lying to ourselves is expedient behavior, and, fortunately, we have the will to fight against taking expedient actions in our lives.
Our effort to remain functional in society and our lives means we lie to ourselves to avoid the hard truths we face that might make us question our identity, motives, and why we exist in the first place. We’d rather lie to ourselves than humble ourselves or damage our delicate egos.
It’s a coping strategy we all use, but that doesn’t mean adopting this behavior or encouraging it in our thinking is a good idea. If everybody lies, and everybody lies to themselves, why would it be a bad thing you should avoid?
The thing is, lying to ourselves makes us lose control over our thinking, our behavior, and our actions. We become comfortable with it, and that can become dangerous. While we can’t control what others do, we can certainly control ourselves.
What are the Signs We’re Lying to Ourselves?
So, what are the signs that we’re lying to ourselves? Lying hinders our ability to function, despite our assumptions that it does the opposite, helping us through tricky situations in life. If you’re dishonest with yourself, it’s going to create conflict in your life and internal strife.
Guilt leads to anxiety, which manifests in sleeping disorders, self-doubt, and a poor level of self-confidence that destroys our character. If you lie to yourself about what you want in life and who you are, you’re punishing yourself and no one else.
Most people that lie have a confused vision of life and what to expect from it, and they use lies to shape their existence the way they want to see it. This is the same reason we lie to ourselves: to help us believe that what we’re doing in life is right. No one wants to hear the truth if it points them out as the bad guy living a misdirected life – that goes for our self-talk too.
Lying to yourself creates an internal battle, making you feel on edge and disconnected from yourself and the world around you. You can’t figure out why you think this way as your cognitive dissonance pulls you apart from the inside.
If you lie to yourself, it’s going to create a contradiction between the inner reality you live in, and you won’t be able to shake that feeling. Forsaking truth and your inner peace when lying to yourself might give you some temporary freedom, but the emotional volatility it creates in your mind and thoughts leads to an internal tug-of-war that you can’t win.
As a result, you eventually reach your breaking point when you can’t take the internal chatter and guilt, leading to an emotional breakdown when you least expect it. You’re driving home from work, and suddenly you start crying at something, and you can’t pinpoint what triggered the outburst.
Lying to ourselves is toxic behavior, and we need to stop it. If you’re caught in the same cycle of telling yourself a lie, eventually, the pain associated with the divorce between what you think and the reality you live turns on you, leading you to emotional distress and psychological degradation.
If you refuse to pay attention to those feelings, your body will eventually revolt against your disregard for the need for inner truth. That’s a sign that you need to stop and take a moment to reassess your thinking and the self-talk you’re using before it manifests into even bigger problems in your life.
Our bodies and minds need to be in sync, and what affects our psychology also affects our physiology. If you’re feeling anxious., stressed, and uncertain about your self-talk, it will lead to physical symptoms sooner or later.
Being truthful with ourselves is how we build authenticity in our character and define our self-image. If we lie to ourselves, we’re pushing aside this need for authenticity, replacing it with inauthentic thoughts that eventually turn up in our awareness of ourselves and our behavior.
That’s our conscience at work. It wants to be authentic and honest about your motives, desires, and intentions, and pulling it away from taking this direction creates inner strife that leads to self-suffering. You can’t shake the feeling that’s something wrong in your life, and you’re painfully aware of your complicity in tossing out the truth in your life.
What Happens to Us When We Lie to Ourselves?
Despite our conscience’s critique of our moral character derailing us, we continue to lie to ourselves. We hunger for equilibrium in our lives, and sometimes, facing the truth is harder than telling a lie. The reality is that being honest with ourselves often means having to make a change, which is painful and hard in these scenarios.
We don’t want to unbalance ourselves from our current trajectory, so we lie to ourselves in the hope that things will keep moving in the direction we want them to. However, the sad thing is that we don’t realize that this behavior sows seeds of discontent in our minds, and eventually, we’ll end up facing a much more dangerous monster down the road.
Eventually, those signs of guilt, shame, and moral hazard start showing up in our lives. It becomes more challenging to brush them off, and instead of finding the peace we want, we only generate more strife. If we spend months or years building up the lies in our life, it might take a very long time to deconstruct them and find the peace our conscience craves.
We’ll have to alter our self-talk, question the rationalization of our thinking and behavior, and put ourselves and our conduct under the microscope. The thought of all that is painful, and most of us just choose to go with the flow until something starts to break instead.
The bottom line with all of this is that we can’t separate our need for inner peace from our desire to be authentic and to bring them into harmony; we need to be honest with ourselves. That’s easier said than done, and most people decide to lift the rug and sweep everything under it rather than face the truth about themselves.
The more we lie to ourselves, the more we downgrade our self-respect. As a result, our thoughts and actions become misaligned, and the only way to bring them back into alignment is to face the truth. The reality is that lying to ourselves destroys our character and dampens the joy we feel in our life.
We end up hardening our thoughts to our desires, making them harder to achieve. We dismantle our self-awareness and blunt our emotions in an effort to keep pushing forward with our lies. We start developing a growing sense of hostility towards ourselves that further damages our self-awareness, self-image, and the self-love we have for ourselves.
Lying to ourselves brings suffering in the long run, and it’s not worth it to sustain this behavior. While facing the truth might hurt and call for radical change, it’s the only way to return our minds and body to a balanced state of self-love.
Why We Should Always Speak the Truth to Ourselves and Others
When we decide to tell the truth to ourselves and refuse to tell ourselves lies, we generate an inner-peace and self-respect. As our authentic self rises from the ashes, our feelings of anxiety and stress around our thinking evaporate.
We know we listened to the truth and took the harder path, resulting in a feeling of duty to ourselves that boosts our self-image. So, it’s a good idea for us to develop the habit of honesty in our self-reflection with the use of questions to probe our intentions, desires, and choices in life.
If you’re struggling with being honest with yourself, ask yourself why you decide to make the choices you do in life. You’ll find you unleash an inner dialogue that leads you to take an honest look at your motivation for doing so. If you follow that self-talk to the source, you’ll eventually reveal the truth, and then you can make provision to cast aside the lies and live as your authentic self.
Be kind to yourself when examining this self-talk, and don’t devalue your thinking or your desire to focus on honesty in your motives and desires. It’s better to face the challenge than to continue down the path you are treading, paved with lies.
The reward of being honest with yourself is a burgeoning feeling of self-respect and confidence in your identity. Please don’t lie to yourself, or you’ll end up hating yourself; it’s as simple as that. Infecting your mind with this hostility towards yourself will only end in disaster.
The reality is we can never escape our lies because we can never escape ourselves. Be honest with yourself, it might not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.