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Gifted_With_Languages's avatar

Why do people prefer to lie to themselves than face the truth?

Asked by Gifted_With_Languages (1137points) January 22nd, 2013

Speaking for myself, I think this is because lying simply does not hurt as much as the truth does. Those who lie to themselves are avoiding the pain of the truth because they wish to take the easy way out of life, even if that means hurting someone else in the process.

Do you share this way of seeing things?

Thanking you in advance for your attention.

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21 Answers

Pachy's avatar

I’m not sure it’s a matter of “preferring;” I think many people lie to themselves because they’ve done it for so long, and for such deep, dark reasons, they simply don’t know what the truth is. Plus, of course, the “truth” isn’t always an absolute.

tom_g's avatar

Try not to lie to yourself. Depending on what you consider a lie, it’s nearly impossible to go a minute without doing so. Some of these lies are beneficial and harmless – simply delusions that keep us moving.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I decided a long time ago that I preferred the brutal truth to self-deceit and try to live that way always, but it’s not always pleasant, that dealing with reality stuff. :)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

People lie because they fear. There’s something in truth that a person fears, and s/he lies.

KNOWITALL's avatar

So my father has denied my existance for 40 years now, so what could he possibly fear?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Are you asking me, @KNOWITALL? How should I know? Ask him.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Well you sounded so sure that they fear something, I was curious what you thought it could possibly be.

He won’t talk to me at all.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m sorry to hear that, @KNOWITALL. If he won’t talk to you at all, he’s got deep seated issues. Those are his to deal with. I’m sure you’re dealing with your own in healthier ways. Your open participation on Fluther speaks volumes about your ability to listen and engage, both good things in my book.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I know, I just wish I could figure out why he is like he is. Emotionally distant, wealthy family who were ‘upstanding Christians’, is all I really know.

tranquilsea's avatar

I think @Hawaii_Jake is right. There is something they fear and don’t want to or don’t know how to work through the fear. So they justify their inaction through lies.

Bellatrix's avatar

The truth sometimes hurts and facing it means we have to take responsibility for whatever situation we are in and do something about it. Lying about ‘the truth’ to ourselves means we can go on pretending everything is hunky dory in the garden of life.

wundayatta's avatar

Why, because it makes life easier. Wouldn’t you rather think you were a good and competent person than a messed up person who never accomplished anything? Especially when all you have to do is tell people you are good and competent and they will believe you and treat you that way? You can see it on Fluther all the time. So many people talk themselves up. How honest they are. How they tell the truth all the time. And everyone believes them and treats them that way.

Are they honest? No one really knows.

I, myself, am an absolute idiot. I do not talk myself up. In fact, I do quite the opposite. I talk myself down. It’s a kind of lying. I know I’m not as bad as I say I am, but if I make it sound worse, then people may appreciate anything I do that is actually worthwhile a little bit more.

I’ve been this way all my life. I’ve never seen myself as particularly competent or lovable or good at much of anything. If anyone would compliment me, I would explain in great detail why they were wrong in that assessment.

Turns out it was my brain chemistry disorder that was partly responsible for me behaving like this. But I have decided it is a good thing to self-denigrate. It helps you feel less disappointed when you don’t save the world. At the same time it makes you work a little harder at times.

I’m lost now. Sorry. This wasn’t much of an answer.

@KNOWITALL Here’s a theory for you. First of all, you have to understand the Christianity as a matter of standing in the community. No one actually believes that shit. Maybe a few. But for most, it’s a way of gaining status. Part of status is that you have look good.

Your father had a family and they were all “good Christians,” so that helped him make money. But of course, he had a dirty secret. You. You were the perfect symbol of how he did the wrong thing. He had a fling, made your mother pregnant, and has been spending the rest of his life hiding from that shame.

He can’t reconcile with it, and because of that, and other things, no doubt, he’s an alcoholic. It’s very painful to him. He has been treating the pain with alcohol. And of course, if he can’t feel his feelings, his shame, and he tries desperately to cover up the shame, then he will be emotionally distant, won’t he?

Many of us are torn between wanting to be accepted by society (Christianity), and wanting to do what we really want to do (fuck women). Men will do all kinds of things to separate themselves into dual lives in order to be able to be accepted and to be happy. Happiness is falling in love, over and over. It’s not responsible, the way women want men to be. But it is in our genes. It is even an evolutionary success strategy.

The more men want to fuck women freely, the more women want to clamp down and stop this behavior and make men be socially responsible. Women want men to be rich so they can pay for and care for the children. Some women don’t care about what the men do with their cocks, so long as their children are cared for.

But religion won’t let us get away with that. Religion (which I believe women started, even if men claim it), says not only do we have to care for our children, we also may not have any relationships with other women. You have to look and act right. I think the men who run churches are the most pussy-whipped of all. Those fundamentalists you see on TV. Some of them get caught with boys or girls on occasion, but you can be damn sure just about all of them are doing it. Their little rebellions against an essentially pussy-whipped nature.

It makes a lot of men crazy. They do what they can to act like they are being good, but in secret (they hope) they do what they really want to. And then the pressure of it gets to them. They start drinking. They quit having fun. They die long before they are dead. They can’t even begin to see what has happened to them.

There’s a novel in this, of course. You are the victim. Your father’s shame keeps him from knowing you. I’m sure he wants to. And the pain of not allowing himself makes him drink. He’d rather drink himself to death than risk his status and the face the anger of the rest of his family and community by talking to you. Instead, he sweeps you under the carpet like dirt he forgot to vacuum up.

It’s a theory. I hope, for your sake, that I’m wrong. Or if not, at least it is a story that might comfort you somehow.

blueiiznh's avatar

So they can justify things in their own head regarding something. Sometimes because they don’t want to make a decision or because they can’t face the truth.

Self-deception is as easy as pie. Not only will many people happily lie to themselves if given a reason, but they will only look for evidence that confirms their comforting self-deception, and then totally believe in the lies they are telling themselves.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”~Jim Stovall

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@wundayatta It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a load of tripe spewed on the walls of Fluther. You’re an outright liar to call yourself an idiot, and you say it yourself. You’re knowledge of the intimate details of @KNOWITALL‘s life and that of her father’s are astonishing to say the least. Your rant about religion says a great deal more about you than it does about answering the question. I would go into more detail, but I’m running late for an appointment.

YARNLADY's avatar

People continue behavior that works for them.

TheobromosHumper's avatar

Lying feels better than admitting to oneself a truth that shames.

Yeahright's avatar

Lying is a conscious act. A choice you make, You either tell the truth…or not, hence you lie. But when it comes to ourselves is not so simple. The real problem is that we don’t see our lives and deeds as clearly as we’d like to. Things are sometimes vague, diffused, confusing, complicated. We are much inside our own problems that we lose objectivity and this leads to a distortion of the truth. So it would seem taht we are lying to ourselves, but in reality we can’t see too clearly. For an outsider it would seem as though we are lying to ourselves because they can look at our situation from a different perspective, they can see things that we can’t see, they are not emotionally involved hence they can sometimes be more objective.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@wundayatta Thank you, and of course you’re probably right. Small towns are notorious for “appearances” and “Christian values.” I guess I don’t understand since he is 68 years old now, I though he may change his mind as he got older, but I guess I was wrong. sigh

@Hawaii_Jake I’ve talked to Wundayatta a few times in regards to this subject and he’s been a great sounding board, definately not an idiot. I can’t talk to anyone in ‘real life’ about this, everyone knows him so they’re all prejudiced by knowledge of the family.

I think what some people fail to understand is that here in the Heartland, a LOT people take religion very seriously, and people like my father and his family, are some of the biggest hypocrites, so it’s hard to deal with them.

wundayatta's avatar

@KNOWITALL If it is appearances he is concerned about, then he could only see you in secret, if he could see you at all. I suspect that a lot of things happen that people try to keep secret and successfully keep secret. So if you want to try to open a contact with him, try to think of a way that you can do it without people knowing.

Maybe you could meet in a different town. Maybe at a place no one else would be at.

Another thing he might be afraid of is that you want to beat him up in some way. You want to castigate him for not being there. You want to make him feel more guilty than he already is. Worse, he might be afraid you won’t make him feel guilty, because he feels so guilty that he needs you to say something.

It will be tricky. What you need is to start small. You need to build trust. Do something small, and say you will do it, and do it, and it doesn’t harm him. It shows him something of what you intend, and what your character is. If that works, build on it with something else small. Slowly build. Maybe eventually he will feel comfortable enough with you to meet and talk.

But you also have to think about what you really want here. Do you want to know him? Find out what he was thinking? Become friends? Find the father you never had? Be told you are doing well?

There are lots of things people want from fathers, and most of them we never get—even those of us with fathers who are willing to share our lives. So watch your own desires, too. They may be hidden from you. It may not be worth trying this campaign. On the other hand, you may never forgive yourself if you don’t try. These things are difficult to know. We are enigmas even to ourselves, and your father is also an enigma to himself, as well.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’ve forgiven him and wrote him that several years ago, and I gave up on ever knowing him.

Of course I’ll always wish things were different or that he’d just show up at my door or something (since he lives ten minutes down the road) but I think my hope is in vain and he will die without ever talking to me again.

My only desire was to meet my father once, as an adult, and see what he was like, that’s it. I’ve heard from everyone in town what he was like, and my husband has been there, my cousin even house-sits for my dad. It’s just me he doesn’t want to be around for whatever reason. I’ll just let it go like I always do and let him die in peace.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because this can save long-term relationships.

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