Overcome Self-deception and Live an 'Authentic' Life

Reviewed Nov 18, 2015

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Summary

  • Become a self-deception detective.
  • Identify your life purpose, values and goals.
  • Be aware of your self-talk.

Have you ever ignored the truth or realities about yourself? Most people deny or rationalize their flaws or weaknesses; they “fool themselves” at least some of the time. Engaging in forms of self-deception, according to psychologists, is a natural human tendency that may result in consequences that run the gamut from helpful to harmful.

What is self-deception?

Self-deception helps a person cover up shortcomings and is a coping strategy for negative, uncomfortable emotions. It is a way of thinking that allows a person to justify false beliefs about himself and others.

No one is immune from self-deception and most of the time we are unaware that we are engaged in it. There is no one personality type that is more vulnerable; all are equally susceptible, especially in the face of fear, worry or feeling like a failure.

A little bit of self-deception can help a person have confidence to take a risk and be more assertive. At the other extreme, too much self-deception can cause someone to be out of touch with reality and live in denial. Lying to yourself can aid skewed perceptions, a resistance to change, misunderstandings, and a “victim” mindset. It can have physical and emotional consequences.

Recognizing self-deception

Areas where we try to deceive ourselves include:

  • Money: If you believe your success in life is measured by your material belongings, you may be setting yourself up for living above your means and racking up debt.
  • Relationships: If you look to someone else to bring you happiness, you are engaging in unhealthy self-deception and not taking responsibility for your own feelings. 
  • Work: While work can be a great source of satisfaction, defining yourself only by what you do is dangerous. You shortchange the other aspects of life—relationships, community involvement, self-care, to name a few—for the sake of work.
  • Body image: Believing that you have to look a certain way to be happy is a trap for dissatisfaction.

Positives from self-deception

Slightly overrating ourselves at some times can be healthy. If you believe in what you can do—maybe even slightly inflating your own view of your strengths—you may appear more confident and be in a better position to influence others. To move from reality to a place of influence can build resilience. A small degree of self-deception can ease some stress, build optimism and enhance the ability to get along better in relationships.

Harmful effects of deceiving yourself

However, self-deception can also be the breeding ground for failure, missed opportunities, unhappiness, loneliness and depression. Real living, true desires and genuine communication are masked behind deception. Making excuses, blaming others, being resistant and negative, feeing inferior or superior, people-pleasing/approval seeking, bullying, withdrawing, living in the past … these can become harmful patterns, robbing a person of reaching her full potential and being truly happy.

Live authentically

You can overcome the need to engage in self-deception and live a more authentic life. These tips will help:

  1. Become a self-deception detective. Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you are wandering through life with little direction or satisfaction. Are you looking externally to find happiness and meaning? What faulty messages are you holding onto about money, work, relationships, health, self-worth? What you are afraid of? What is holding you back?
  2. Identify your life purpose, values and goals. Write your own obituary, or a toast at your 80th birthday or 50th wedding anniversary. What do you value and how are those values being lived in your daily life? Set small goals that move you in the direction of your bigger goals and values. 
  3. Be aware of your self-talk. Are you blocking your potential? Check out your thoughts when you first wake up. Are they supportive, encouraging, positive? Become your own best coach, not a critic.
  4. Get in touch with your passions. The interests, hobbies and passions you had as a child or teen might be gateways to activities you could cultivate today.
  5. Honor your strengths. What are your positive traits or special talents? List at least 3. If you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help. Find ways to express yourself through these strengths.
  6. Stand up. The first step in learning to be assertive is to identify your own perceptions and opinions. Expressing yourself directly and respectfully is a big step in being true to yourself.
  7.  Simplify. If you find you have too many belongings or not enough time for things important to you, it is time to take inventory and make changes.
  8. Take time to play. Give yourself time to recharge by doing things that you love.
  9. Seek help if you feel stuck. Professional, private help is available by calling the number on this site.

Finding the courage to be who you really are helps you realize your potential and, consequently, find fulfillment and peace. Finding your authentic self takes honesty, awareness, consistent effort and time.

By Kris Hooks, M.Ed., LPC, LMFT, CEAP

Summary

  • Become a self-deception detective.
  • Identify your life purpose, values and goals.
  • Be aware of your self-talk.

Have you ever ignored the truth or realities about yourself? Most people deny or rationalize their flaws or weaknesses; they “fool themselves” at least some of the time. Engaging in forms of self-deception, according to psychologists, is a natural human tendency that may result in consequences that run the gamut from helpful to harmful.

What is self-deception?

Self-deception helps a person cover up shortcomings and is a coping strategy for negative, uncomfortable emotions. It is a way of thinking that allows a person to justify false beliefs about himself and others.

No one is immune from self-deception and most of the time we are unaware that we are engaged in it. There is no one personality type that is more vulnerable; all are equally susceptible, especially in the face of fear, worry or feeling like a failure.

A little bit of self-deception can help a person have confidence to take a risk and be more assertive. At the other extreme, too much self-deception can cause someone to be out of touch with reality and live in denial. Lying to yourself can aid skewed perceptions, a resistance to change, misunderstandings, and a “victim” mindset. It can have physical and emotional consequences.

Recognizing self-deception

Areas where we try to deceive ourselves include:

  • Money: If you believe your success in life is measured by your material belongings, you may be setting yourself up for living above your means and racking up debt.
  • Relationships: If you look to someone else to bring you happiness, you are engaging in unhealthy self-deception and not taking responsibility for your own feelings. 
  • Work: While work can be a great source of satisfaction, defining yourself only by what you do is dangerous. You shortchange the other aspects of life—relationships, community involvement, self-care, to name a few—for the sake of work.
  • Body image: Believing that you have to look a certain way to be happy is a trap for dissatisfaction.

Positives from self-deception

Slightly overrating ourselves at some times can be healthy. If you believe in what you can do—maybe even slightly inflating your own view of your strengths—you may appear more confident and be in a better position to influence others. To move from reality to a place of influence can build resilience. A small degree of self-deception can ease some stress, build optimism and enhance the ability to get along better in relationships.

Harmful effects of deceiving yourself

However, self-deception can also be the breeding ground for failure, missed opportunities, unhappiness, loneliness and depression. Real living, true desires and genuine communication are masked behind deception. Making excuses, blaming others, being resistant and negative, feeing inferior or superior, people-pleasing/approval seeking, bullying, withdrawing, living in the past … these can become harmful patterns, robbing a person of reaching her full potential and being truly happy.

Live authentically

You can overcome the need to engage in self-deception and live a more authentic life. These tips will help:

  1. Become a self-deception detective. Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you are wandering through life with little direction or satisfaction. Are you looking externally to find happiness and meaning? What faulty messages are you holding onto about money, work, relationships, health, self-worth? What you are afraid of? What is holding you back?
  2. Identify your life purpose, values and goals. Write your own obituary, or a toast at your 80th birthday or 50th wedding anniversary. What do you value and how are those values being lived in your daily life? Set small goals that move you in the direction of your bigger goals and values. 
  3. Be aware of your self-talk. Are you blocking your potential? Check out your thoughts when you first wake up. Are they supportive, encouraging, positive? Become your own best coach, not a critic.
  4. Get in touch with your passions. The interests, hobbies and passions you had as a child or teen might be gateways to activities you could cultivate today.
  5. Honor your strengths. What are your positive traits or special talents? List at least 3. If you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help. Find ways to express yourself through these strengths.
  6. Stand up. The first step in learning to be assertive is to identify your own perceptions and opinions. Expressing yourself directly and respectfully is a big step in being true to yourself.
  7.  Simplify. If you find you have too many belongings or not enough time for things important to you, it is time to take inventory and make changes.
  8. Take time to play. Give yourself time to recharge by doing things that you love.
  9. Seek help if you feel stuck. Professional, private help is available by calling the number on this site.

Finding the courage to be who you really are helps you realize your potential and, consequently, find fulfillment and peace. Finding your authentic self takes honesty, awareness, consistent effort and time.

By Kris Hooks, M.Ed., LPC, LMFT, CEAP

Summary

  • Become a self-deception detective.
  • Identify your life purpose, values and goals.
  • Be aware of your self-talk.

Have you ever ignored the truth or realities about yourself? Most people deny or rationalize their flaws or weaknesses; they “fool themselves” at least some of the time. Engaging in forms of self-deception, according to psychologists, is a natural human tendency that may result in consequences that run the gamut from helpful to harmful.

What is self-deception?

Self-deception helps a person cover up shortcomings and is a coping strategy for negative, uncomfortable emotions. It is a way of thinking that allows a person to justify false beliefs about himself and others.

No one is immune from self-deception and most of the time we are unaware that we are engaged in it. There is no one personality type that is more vulnerable; all are equally susceptible, especially in the face of fear, worry or feeling like a failure.

A little bit of self-deception can help a person have confidence to take a risk and be more assertive. At the other extreme, too much self-deception can cause someone to be out of touch with reality and live in denial. Lying to yourself can aid skewed perceptions, a resistance to change, misunderstandings, and a “victim” mindset. It can have physical and emotional consequences.

Recognizing self-deception

Areas where we try to deceive ourselves include:

  • Money: If you believe your success in life is measured by your material belongings, you may be setting yourself up for living above your means and racking up debt.
  • Relationships: If you look to someone else to bring you happiness, you are engaging in unhealthy self-deception and not taking responsibility for your own feelings. 
  • Work: While work can be a great source of satisfaction, defining yourself only by what you do is dangerous. You shortchange the other aspects of life—relationships, community involvement, self-care, to name a few—for the sake of work.
  • Body image: Believing that you have to look a certain way to be happy is a trap for dissatisfaction.

Positives from self-deception

Slightly overrating ourselves at some times can be healthy. If you believe in what you can do—maybe even slightly inflating your own view of your strengths—you may appear more confident and be in a better position to influence others. To move from reality to a place of influence can build resilience. A small degree of self-deception can ease some stress, build optimism and enhance the ability to get along better in relationships.

Harmful effects of deceiving yourself

However, self-deception can also be the breeding ground for failure, missed opportunities, unhappiness, loneliness and depression. Real living, true desires and genuine communication are masked behind deception. Making excuses, blaming others, being resistant and negative, feeing inferior or superior, people-pleasing/approval seeking, bullying, withdrawing, living in the past … these can become harmful patterns, robbing a person of reaching her full potential and being truly happy.

Live authentically

You can overcome the need to engage in self-deception and live a more authentic life. These tips will help:

  1. Become a self-deception detective. Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you are wandering through life with little direction or satisfaction. Are you looking externally to find happiness and meaning? What faulty messages are you holding onto about money, work, relationships, health, self-worth? What you are afraid of? What is holding you back?
  2. Identify your life purpose, values and goals. Write your own obituary, or a toast at your 80th birthday or 50th wedding anniversary. What do you value and how are those values being lived in your daily life? Set small goals that move you in the direction of your bigger goals and values. 
  3. Be aware of your self-talk. Are you blocking your potential? Check out your thoughts when you first wake up. Are they supportive, encouraging, positive? Become your own best coach, not a critic.
  4. Get in touch with your passions. The interests, hobbies and passions you had as a child or teen might be gateways to activities you could cultivate today.
  5. Honor your strengths. What are your positive traits or special talents? List at least 3. If you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help. Find ways to express yourself through these strengths.
  6. Stand up. The first step in learning to be assertive is to identify your own perceptions and opinions. Expressing yourself directly and respectfully is a big step in being true to yourself.
  7.  Simplify. If you find you have too many belongings or not enough time for things important to you, it is time to take inventory and make changes.
  8. Take time to play. Give yourself time to recharge by doing things that you love.
  9. Seek help if you feel stuck. Professional, private help is available by calling the number on this site.

Finding the courage to be who you really are helps you realize your potential and, consequently, find fulfillment and peace. Finding your authentic self takes honesty, awareness, consistent effort and time.

By Kris Hooks, M.Ed., LPC, LMFT, CEAP

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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