“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true.” Demosthenes.
That’s right, something so simple that affects all of us, regardless of our religious conviction, our level of education or knowledge, gender, race or any other possible distinction between humans. In this case I am not talking about the intentional, deliberate deception to which we are exposed in our day to day lives, nor the deception by others, although on too many occasions it is precisely the self-deception of these people that is the root of their deception towards others. I remember a phrase, or expression that I found during the writing of my thesis on the Media Richness under the perspective of interpretative symbolic interactionism and that I used to apply later as a “principle” in my work within the world of corporate communication and training. It is a phrase that questions the “scientific method” as such and represents one of the most consequential epistemological ruptures in science. “The mind decides where to look“. Yes, that’s right, or in other words, as Louis Pasteur said, “The greatest deception of the mind is to believe in something just because one wants to believe in it”.
It is not the purpose of this reflection to inquire further into epistemology or the sciences of knowledge, but rather to close a circle that I began with “The nature of human error“. The question for me is why something as banal as self-deception can be so important, something so normal, natural and human, even something so necessary, since it is part of our own tools of defense and survival?
By self-deception I am not referring to these innate tools, nor to selective attention, without which, according to Daniel Goleman “…experience would be complete chaos”.
Nor do I wish to reflect on current psychology, with its multiple definitions and attempts to explain and label this very human phenomenon with its theories of syndromes, biases, distortions, dissonances, and much less on the “supposed” universal laws that govern our minds.
No, I just want to reflect briefly on the difference between such self-deception and lying. Both traits being so human, unlike Wikipedia I do not consider them “instincts”, but rather “constructs”, we can differentiate these two human phenomena between conscious and unconscious, or voluntary and involuntary, even intentional or accidental if you prefer. The main difference between lying and self-deception is that, in lying, the person is aware that he or she is not telling the truth, while in self-deception a reality that is false is accepted as truth without being aware of it. And it is precisely this point that fascinates me.
Who among us likes to be a liar? However, how many of us lie over and over again to ourselves? Well, nothing happens until it happens. And it happens when you realize that you are, or have been, fooling yourself.
Why do we deceive ourselves? Let’s not fool ourselves, deep down we do it to protect ourselves, sometimes from ourselves and sometimes from others. Everyone has their own answers to this question, and like so many others, the solution is to ask ourselves and try to answer as honestly as possible.
So, before I finish, I want to ask you more about the consequences of the prefix “self”, which can be interpreted as deception “to oneself”, “for oneself” or “with respect to oneself”.
Do you want to keep lying to yourself, with yourself and about yourself?
The decision is yours, like almost all decisions that affect your life. You decide!
Much more than self-deception, it is our own consciousness that is responsible for the benefits and/or detriments in the maintenance of our physiological, rational, emotional, spiritual and relational balance.
If you wish to break the vicious circle of self-deception and live a life that is truly yours, more serene, happier, or simply live your life fully, I encourage you to observe yourself, question yourself, affirm yourself and consciously commit to it.
Through knowledge, study, critical thinking, reflection, the abandonment of knowledge bias, unhealthy reductionism, and so many other measures within the reach of almost anyone today.
All you need is awareness, attention, training, evaluation and adequate communication. All being factors within our own responsibility and field of action.
Your results are a direct consequence of your actions and these, in turn, have their origin in your decisions, which are not only conditioned, but also determined by your perspective, which is nothing more than a reflection of what you are aware of.
If you want to delve into this topic and learn how to “stop deceiving yourself” , I invite you to get straight to the point.
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