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How To Stop Self-Deception And Be True To Yourself Again

How To Stop Self-Deception And Be True To Yourself Again

Often times when we are going through a rough time in life, we choose to see what we want to see without even realizing it. Self-deception is the process of lying to ourselves without realizing that we are doing it. We literally believe our own beliefs, perceptions, and thoughts.

Contrary to what you may believe, we all do it at one point or another. We have fragile egos, and our subconscious mind works hard to protect feelings from confusion and harm. So in turn, it distorts our views where possible to make us feel better than we would otherwise. Lying is never a good thing, and we often think about lying to others, but it can be more detrimental to lie to ourselves.

Self-deception is the fountain of failure, unhappiness and missed opportunities.

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Why do we do it?

As previously stated, we often don’t even know that we’re in a state of denial of the truth or reality. We lie to ourselves to makes us feel better about a certain situation.

For example, a woman who is in a physically and mentally abusive relationship believes that what is happening to her is a mistake made by her significant other, or often justifies their behavior based off on something she did that she believes was wrong. What this woman fails to realize is that the same person who is causing her harm is the same person she believes will protect her and keep her safe. From an outside perspective, nothing about that particular behavior can be justified. However, this woman is in a stage of self-deception where her mind is attempting to protect her of the harmful truth.

“We deceive ourselves because we don’t have enough psychological strength to admit the truth and deal with the consequences that will follow.” -Cortney S. Warren Ph.D.

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The cost of self-deception

Unfortunately, the people we love and care for the most tend to suffer as well. We tend to hurt ourselves and those we love and care for the most. One major cost of self-deception is that we hurt ourselves and those we love the most when we don’t take full responsibility for who we are. When we use painful life experiences to justify being a non-ideal version of ourselves, we directly and indirectly hurt the ones we love the most.

Another cost of self-deception is that it can leave us with mountains of regret. During this state, we may have made some choices that have caused some harmful consequences to avoid being honest with ourselves. What is unfortunate is that when looking back at life with regrets, it is a tough pill to swallow because you cannot change the choices in your past, only your choices moving forward. If you want to learn how to be true to yourself you must remember this.

Quattrone and Tversky explored the self-deception phenomenon in their classic social psychology experiment in 1984. “The experiment shows the different graduations of self-deception. At the highest level, people tend to imbibe the deception and therefore think and act as though their incorrect belief is completely true, totally ignoring and rejecting any incoming hints from reality.”

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How to be true to yourself

  • Identify your life purpose, values and goals

Set small goals that move you in the direction of your bigger goals and values.

  • Be aware of your self-talk

Evaluate your thoughts when you first wake up in the morning. Are they supportive and positive? Be your own best coach, not your own worst critic.

  • Take time to play

Give yourself a break so that you can recharge by allowing yourself to do the things that you love.

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  • Honor your strengths

Write down the 3 strongest things about you. If you find yourself struggling, ask someone closest to help you and then focus on those strengths.

  • Get help if you feel stuck

There is professional, private help out there to overcome self-deception and teach you how to be true to yourself.

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Erica Wagner

Freelance Writer

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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