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  • A major obstacle to self-knowledge, and in turn to a flourishing life

  • is the tendency of one part of our minds to lie to the other.

  • We lie for what might initially seem like a very understandable reason,

  • because we want to avoid pain.

  • But in so doing, we hugely damage our chances of happiness.

  • There are four things we particularly like to lie to ourselves about.

  • We lie about all the problematic aspects.

  • It would take so much effort to alter our jobs, our relationships,

  • our friendships, our health, our habits, and ideas.

  • We lie because we need to think well of ourselves,

  • and devoted to imagining that we are essentially normal,

  • without peculiar loves, hates, and deviant thoughts.

  • We lie because we don't want to feel so inadequate.

  • And yet because we lack so many good things.

  • We lie because we're furious with certain people we're supposed to love.

  • And we lie because what we furious about

  • feels so minor and pathetically petty for a grown-up to care about.

  • Given how risky the truth about us can feel,

  • we had to learn to be masters of deception.

  • Our techniques are wide-ranging, devilish, and often hugely imaginative.

  • Here are some of the leading maneuvers we employ to pull the wool over our own eyes.

  • Distraction/Addiction

  • We identify something that can powerfully keep our thoughts away

  • from troubling inner confrontations.

  • Online pornography's a favorite. The news another.

  • Alcohol, a third. Work, a fourth.

  • We don't so much like these elements in and of themselves.

  • We like them for their ability to keep us away from what we fear.

  • Manic Cheeriness

  • A sadness we haven't been able to admit to,

  • is often covered up with exaggerated doses of manic cheeriness.

  • We aren't happy, so much as incapable of allowing ourselves to feel even the slightest sadness.

  • In case we were to be overwhelmed by our buried grief.

  • We develop a brittle insistent tendency to say that,

  • "All is very well,""This is lovely, isn't it?"

  • We might press leaving no room for any ideas to the contrary.

  • Irritability

  • Denied anger with a particular personal situation

  • often seeps out into a generalized irritability.

  • So successful is the lie, we don't really know what's up.

  • We just keep losing our tempers.

  • Someone moved the TV remote. There are two eggs in the fridge.

  • The electricity bill is slightly higher than we expected.

  • Anything can set us off.

  • Our brains are so filled with how frustrating, annoying things are.

  • We have cleverly left no space at all for focusing on the true and very sad issue.

  • Denigration

  • We tell ourselves that we simply don't care about something.

  • Love or politics, career success or intellectual life.

  • That beautiful student or the house we can't afford.

  • And we are very emphatic about our lack of interest and complete disdain.

  • We go to great lengths to make it very clear to others and ourselves

  • how absolutely unconcerned we are.

  • Censoriousness

  • We grow censorious and deeply disapproving of certain kinds of behavior and people.

  • What we don't admit is that was so full of condemnation,

  • only because we need to ward off awareness

  • that a part of us in fact really likes the condemned element.

  • We attack certain sexual tastes as utterly deviant and beyond the pale,

  • precisely because we have known that we share them, somewhere inside ourselves.

  • So we're delighted when particular people are arrested or shamed in the press.

  • What they did was utterly awful, we insist are outraged

  • shielding us from any risks spotting the connection between them and us.

  • Defensiveness

  • When there's unwelcomed news, we may resort to a highly successful diversionary tactic,

  • taking offense.

  • A colleague tries to give us a bit of feedback.

  • Instantly, we accuse them of rudeness, arrogance in a sense of entitlement.

  • A partner points something out.

  • We get furious that they're piling pressure on us at a difficult point.

  • Feeling offended takes up all our attention.

  • It muddies the waters.

  • We no longer have to pay attention to information that is it heart correct but challenging.

  • Cynicism, Despair

  • We're sad about particular things.

  • But confronting them would be so arduous, we generalize and universalize the sadness.

  • We don't say that X or Y has made us sad.

  • We say that everything is rather terrible and everyone is rather awful.

  • We spread the pain,

  • in order that its particular specific causes

  • can no longer be the focus of attention.

  • Our sadness gets, to put it metaphorically, lost in the crowd.

  • Why is lying to ourselves a problem?

  • We need to tell yourself the truth when we can,

  • for the simple reason that we often pay a very high price

  • for the short-term calm of our lies.

  • We miss key opportunities for growth and learning.

  • We're not very nice to be around.

  • We develop harmful systems.

  • And not least, the truth will be out.

  • When we don't let it emerge,

  • it has a tendency to reveal itself through involuntary often physical symptoms.

  • We become insomniac or impotent. An eyelid starts twitching.

  • We acquire a stutter, and scream in our sleep and lose energy.

  • We fall into depression.

  • We owe it to ourselves to dare to start to confront our real nature.

A major obstacle to self-knowledge, and in turn to a flourishing life

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B1 US sadness furious tendency manic hugely truth

How We Lie to Ourselves

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    clara.english.0001 posted on 2017/03/06
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