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  • Writer's pictureLisa Jones

Am I lying to myself?

We interpret information in different ways to support our own views of the world and we can be quite selective when looking for evidence to justify what we do. Have you ever bought a new car and started noticing how many other people drive the same model? That’s the way we look for evidence to support out own views. Those cars have always been there, but we notice them more.

This is a human trait – we can resolve inner conflict easier when we can back up our behaviour or thoughts that support it. But is it really the truth? If we are honest with ourselves we can become more aware when we do this and find other ways to resolve the conflict and avoid the negative consequences of self-deception.

Can you remember a time when you lied to yourself about something you wanted to “make OK”. For example, if you’re on a diet and have just binged on chocolate and now regret it – what lie did you tell yourself to reduce that guilty feeling? Did you have a bad day and told yourself you deserve a “treat”? Or did you tell yourself “I’m addicted to chocolate, I can’t help it!”?

What would be the absolute truth in this scenario?

“I was feeling lonely and eating chocolate soothes that feeling for a while. Next time I feel like that I’m going to call my friend instead”

“I am angry that I can’t enjoy chocolate when I want because I am on a diet. I need to find another way of satisfying my sweet tooth that is healthier if I’m going to lose weight”

Quite often the conflict you feel between your values and your actions has an emotional root. So, you can examine your actions or adjust your values to bring them more in line. But all the time you are lying to yourself you delay that process of really knowing what’s going on.

  1. Rationalisation – you use logic

  2. Justification – you defend it

  3. Minimisation – you downplay it

  4. Magnifying – you exaggerate it

  5. Blame – you blame something/someone

  6. Entitlement – you think you deserve it

  7. Uniqueness – you focus on what makes you different

  8. Mental Filter – you filter out thoughts

  9. Victim Stance – you put yourself in the role of victim

  10. Normalisation – you make it seem normal

  11. Denial – you block out reality

  12. Helplessness – you think you can’t help it

  13. Invincibility - you think you’re ‘bullet proof’.

Of course, the lies we tell ourselves can be quite damaging, but you might look down the list and realise you use them to lie to other people too. What’s your “go to” favourite when dealing with conflict in an argument? The consequences are similar – you avoid examining the real issue that has caused upset and conflict. If you discover your favourite way of lying, you are more likely to spot it when you do it. You then have time to correct your answer in a more honest way – usually starting your sentence with “I” – for example; “I’m sorry I blamed you for my bad mood, it’s not your fault – can we talk about my difficult day at work?” or, even more honest “I seem to justify my actions when I know I need to take more responsibility, I know I was wrong”.

A first step to working towards more honesty is keeping a private journal. If you can write down your truth you can start to connect to your true values and adjust accordingly. In the above example about food, you might adjust your goal weight or find a renewed motivation to eat healthily.

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