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KNOWITALL's avatar

Do you practice self-deception or are you self-aware and completely honest?

Asked by KNOWITALL (29615points) February 27th, 2014

Perhaps you’re filing for bankruptcy but when a family member or friend asks how you’re doing, you say ‘everything’s great!’

Perhaps you’re in the middle of a divorce but are ashamed and want to hide it from everyone, because you see yourself as a failure, and think others will as well.

How honest with yourself and others are you about your personal situations, relationships, or emotions? Any thoughts are appreciated, and remember humans are susceptible, this is not an unusual thing.

Definition: Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. Self-deception involves convincing oneself of a truth (or lack of truth) so that one does not reveal any self-knowledge of the deception.

This notion is based on the following logic: deception is a fundamental aspect of communication in nature, both between and within species. It has evolved so that one can have an advantage over another. From alarm calls to mimicry, animals use deception to further their survival. Those who are better able to perceive deception are more likely to survive. As a result, self-deception evolved to better mask deception from those who perceive it well, as Trivers puts it: “Hiding the truth from yourself to hide it more deeply from others.” -Wiki

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23 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I’m quite self aware and also know myself well, but, I also do not share everything with others if I don’t feel like it.
I am quite savvy at picking up deceptive behaviors from others, being a very intuitive type.
I am often uncannily accurate in my readings of others.
I might be in denial at times but never in a self deceptive manner. I KNOW when I am avoiding addressing something. haha

hominid's avatar

I am honest – sometimes too honest with people I associate with. And I demand honesty. I’ll remove people from my life as soon as I discover they have been dishonest with me. It’s that important to me.

However, if my years of mindfulness practice have taught me anything, it’s that I have the ability to lie to myself. This is something that was devastating at first. Now, I have learned to forgive myself – acknowledging that this is something that we all do. The mind is busy telling us stories about ourselves all the time. All I can hope for is to increase my ability to be aware – more often – that these are just stories, and then do frequent checks to make sure the stories are fairly accurate.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Agreed. I too swiftly cull the deceptive ones from my herd.

thorninmud's avatar

Well, it’s the nature of self-deception that one isn’t aware of deceiving oneself. A book I read awhile back, Being Wrong, asks an interesting question: What does it feel like to be wrong? The point is that it doesn’t feel like anything to be wrong, because while you’re wrong, you don’t realize it. When you realize that you’ve been wrong, you’re not wrong anymore.

The same goes for self-deception. While you’re in the throes of the deception, you think you’re being self-aware. When you realize that you’re deceiving yourself, the deception is gone.

I’m constantly discovering ways that I’ve been deceiving myself. I infer from this that there’s plenty more still in there.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Everyone practices self-deception. Those who think they don’t are deceiving themselves.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I notice my own self-deception in some situations, and I also notice in others VERY often, although I’m not always sure people are cognizant that they are contradicting themselves blatantly.

When my mom asks certain questions about personal things, like my marriage, or something that makes me uncomfortable (I’m not always in a sharing mood), I often get very uncomfortable.

I asked because many of us here are introverts (based on previous threads), and it seems we may tend more towards self-deception than extroverts from what I’ve read.

hominid's avatar

@thorninmud: “The same goes for self-deception. While you’re in the throes of the deception, you think you’re being self-aware. When you realize that you’re deceiving yourself, the deception is gone.”

Have you ever discovered that you had been deceiving yourself only to realize later that the “discovery” had itself been a self-deception, and you had likely not been deceiving yourself before? In some ways, I have to take my word for it far too often. And I have learned that my word isn’t worth shit. It’s difficult work, and I still haven’t figured it out. Or have I, and I’m simply deceiving myself?

@KNOWITALL: “I asked because many of us here are introverts (based on previous threads), and it seems we may tend more towards self-deception than extroverts from what I’ve read.”

Do you recall where you read that? I haven’t seen anything about self-deception and the connection to introversion/extroversion before.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@hominid I really don’t, I read constantly and love psychology, but I’ll make a mental note to share with you if I come across it again. Deal?

thorninmud's avatar

@hominid “Have you ever discovered that you had been deceiving yourself only to realize later that the “discovery” had itself been a self-deception, and you had likely not been deceiving yourself before?”

Not that I had not been deceiving myself before, no. But what I have found is that I abandon some illusion only to set up camp in what appears to be a less deluded space. It later becomes clear that this new space, too, is not entirely true. Having been through enough iterations of this process, I find that I can’t camp anywhere.

Cruiser's avatar

As a high functioning alcoholic, I was for many years expert at self deception. I call it self-delusion. I lied and manipulated my way to solve problems in my life and get my way in certain situations. This selfish and self-serving behavior only created more problems than it solved.

2 years of AA so far has forced me to peel back the layers of my lies and deceptions that have revealed more about myself than I ever imagined. I suppose part of my drinking was to avoid acknowledging this part of my dysfunction all together.

Therapy, AA, yoga and lots of meditation has made me more self-aware than I have ever been and now I try to practice validation of not only my emotions and thoughts but those of the others in my life. It makes a HUGE difference and being honest with yourself and others, is essential in building and maintaining trust in relationship that are meaningful in your and theirs lives.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Coloma once again summed up my feelings perfectly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think I’m honest with myself. However, your example about telling someone “everything is fine,” when you’ve actually filed bankruptcy isn’t a very valid example of SELF deception. That’s more like self preservation. People tend to look down on you for doing certain things.
Now, if you’re telling yourself everything is fine when it isn’t, then it’s a problem.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, self-preservation could definately be involved, but does that mean you can’t deal with reality, which is being honest with someone about your circumstances, or you can’t deal with their reactions to your reality?

Sometimes when I catch people in lies, I’m not sure if they even remember telling me differently, so I don’t know if it’s intentional or some kind of self-deception, that’s why I’m interested in the subject.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t want to have to deal with their reaction. And besides, what business is it of theirs?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III I completely get that, no one wants to share personal negative information all the time with everybody!

I’m just interested if people know why they act like they do, like if you can see yourself from a third party viewpoint in your words and actions, and evaluate it dispassionately.

If you aren’t aware of behavior patterns you can’t change them, once you start noticing, you grow. :)

zenvelo's avatar

I am, for the same reason as @Cruiser self aware following a lot of work on my own denial. Yet, I am honest with myself as best I can, but I am careful with how I share that with other people.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I say “everything’s fine” because it’s nobody’s business but mine. Also because I don’t want to make my family and friends worry about me when I know that everything’s going to be okay. Once the dust settles, then I am fine with telling people. I am in no way trying to fool myself. You know the old saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” If my life was falling apart, I would be too busy doing damage control to whine to my family and friends about it. I don’t like sympathy, and I really don’t like advice. That is why I say “everything’s fine.”

Blondesjon's avatar


I apply this to myself as well.

LostInParadise's avatar

Self-deception is a coping mechanism. We make up stories about our current situation and alter the past. Here is one way I became acutely aware of this. There was a time that I kept an occasional journal to help me through a particularly rough time in my life. Basically, the journal was a portrait of me at my worst. I later made the mistake of reviewing what I had written. It was truly cringe-worthy in both style and content. In particular, I was surprised at how much pain I had been feeling and at how I let certain people and things get me down. If, before reading these entries, someone had quizzed me about this period, I would have given a somewhat different story.

If we are to be honest with ourselves, we need to acknowledge that we occasionally deceive ourselves. Denying self-deception is itself a self-deception.

Berserker's avatar

I’m more than self aware, but I still practice self deception, as I don’t see the use of bothering people about my problems. If I did/do decide to talk about things, what people perceive of me afterwards is none of my concern.

cazzie's avatar

Deception all the way. I’d kill myself, otherwise. I need a shirt that says,‘Keep Calm and Rationalise’.

hearkat's avatar

I used to be a supreme self-bullshitter, and subsequently played those games with everyone around me. I am so relieved that I gave that up. Life is so much easier and peaceful now. When I’m not feeling well or am stressed out, I don’t say that I’m fine. I’ll use phrases like, “Hanging in there,” or “I’ve seen better days,” as a way to be honest without over-sharing.

When something bothers me, I address it with the others involved as soon as I can, so that it can be worked-out to prevent resentments from building. If we don’t communicate with others, they don’t know there’s a problem and can only presume that all is well. If we try to ignore or avoid the issues, they tend to snowball, and the other parties might find themselves blind-sided when we hit our breaking point. That us not healthy or fair to anyone.

LostInParadise's avatar

Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken is a good description of a type of self-deception. If you read it carefully and avoid the usual shallow interpretation of the poem, you will see that Frost is saying that the roads are in actuality about equally worn, but in order to create a dramatic life story for himself, the narrator tells of taking the path less “less traveled by” and how it “made all the difference.”

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