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4 ways in which we lie to ourselves

4 ways in which we lie to ourselves

January 25, 2022

As much as we are rational animals, that does not mean that we have a reasonable and realistic image of what we have at hand: ourselves. It may be paradoxical, but having access to almost all the information about who we are and how we feel does not mean that it is reliable.

In fact, there are many situations in which those who best understand us are the others , for the simple fact of being other people. The biased view of the Self is a burden that each one of us carries, while our friends, family and colleagues already have the advantage of observing us from a more distanced and, in many cases, analytical perspective.


Definitely, there are many ways in which we lie to ourselves so as not to compromise certain aspects of one's mentality.

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The importance of cognitive dissonance

Why should we try to remain blind to those aspects of reality that we do not like, if knowing them could be useful to solve them? The answer lies in a well-known concept in the world of psychology: cognitive dissonance.

Do you recognize that feeling of discomfort that you experience when you realize that two beliefs that you feel attachment for or that, at least, seem reasonable to you? There is the key. Summing up a bit, cognitive dissonance is the state of tension that appears when two or more beliefs come into contradiction , since they are incompatible.


There are several ways to avoid cognitive dissonance or cease their existence, and many of them do not lead us to better understand reality from the reflection of what we thought we knew so far. In this case, what happens is that we deceive ourselves. This happens in different ways, as we will see now.

In these ways we lie to ourselves

Although it may not seem like it, most people are more than happy to resort to self-deception to keep intact the mental image about who we are . And it is that the self-image is very delicate and, sometimes, the mechanisms that we use to avoid confronting it with reality are automatic.

Now, for the same reason that we try to preserve this self-image automatically, it is difficult to realize those moments in which we are deceiving ourselves.


To make it easier for you to detect the warning signs related to self-deception, below you can see the 4 ways in which we usually deceive ourselves.

1. Confusing the need with the will

Many times, situations in which one part dominates the other they are camouflaged under a false image of freedom. For example, there are couple relationships in which the glue that unites the two parties is simply the fear of loneliness of one of them. This fear makes the relationship run its course despite being clearly harmful and asymmetric.

In these cases, the person who remains dependent on the dynamics of dependence believes that all those moments of discomfort he experiences are due to the sacrifices we are supposed to make for the sake of romantic love. Any indication that what is really happening is that your partner vampires you, will be ignored by all means.

By the way, something similar happens many times in the relationship that recently addicted people have with the substance they consume.

2. Playing with the meaning of words

When it comes to alleviating the discomfort produced by cognitive dissonance, one of the most recurrent strategies consists of modify our belief system to assign a new meaning to some of those that came into contradiction and, thus, get it "fit" well in one's own mentality.

If this results in a deep reflection on our beliefs and we end up accepting that the reality is not as simple as we thought at the beginning, possibly that will be a constructive and instructive experience. But if the only objective that is pursued with this is to placate as soon as possible that anxiety born of the uncertainty of not knowing what to believe, we will fall into self-deception.

Specifically, what is usually done in these cases is to "remove" a little the concepts we use to understand certain plots of reality so that its meaning becomes more ambiguous and the illusion is created that the idea that before entered in confrontation with them, now fits.

For example, someone who can believe that homosexuality is unnatural because it does not favor reproduction but, confronted with the idea that many heterosexual people decide not to have children, defend the idea that homosexuality is unnatural because it is a statistical abnormality, and so on. to give the concept of "unnatural" as many definitions as needed.

3. Avoid contact with dangerous ideas

Another way to deceive ourselves is to completely ignore one of those "dangerous ideas" , do not pay attention, make it empty. Thus, it is common that if someone takes this topic of conversation, the other replies with a "good, do not argue" or, sarcastically, with a "well, okay, only you have the absolute truth."They are ways to win an argument by not winning it, a lazy resource for not being in an uncomfortable situation.

4. Believe that we are the only ones who are unique

This is a very recurrent thought that is used as a shield for our self-image when everything around us screams at our faces that we have a problem. Basically, it is to believe that as much as the outside world is governed by objective truths, our case is unique and special , and no one can tell us what happens to us or what will happen to us.

For example, this happens a lot with tobacco addiction: we see that people who smoke more than three cigarettes a day have serious problems to stop using it, but we believe that we, who do the same, have neither developed an addiction nor We would have problems if we wanted to give up that habit.


How We Lie to Ourselves (January 2022).


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