Lying to yourself

Honesty with the self is the hardest thing to achieve. People always say, “It is easy to lie to the whole world, but how can you lie to yourself?” We say this while each one of us is deluding ourselves from the fact that we all lie to ourselves; and pretty well too. I have a friend who breaks his diet whenever we go to Sardar pav bhaji (for non-Mumbaikars, it is a place in Tardeo, Mumbai where the pav bhaji has more butter than Amul could possibly manufacture, and any mention of this place to your gym instructor earns you an extra half hour on the treadmill.), another who has convinced himself that he is smart; it is the professors who don’t understand his true potential (Oh wait, that’s me!)

How can you look in the mirror after lying to a friend that you don’t have time to meet him or her? How do you sleep at night after hanging up on your mom after telling her that life is too hectic to talk now, and then calling a friend over for a few beers? It’s easy. We all do it. We brush our teeth and dress ourselves and comb our hair, all using that reflective surface that is saddled with the responsibility of weeding out liars. We sleep pretty well too, admittedly the beers do their share of work there…

What is amazing about this is not the steady regularity with which we do this, but the creative rationalizations that we invent so that we can lie to ourselves with impunity. Oh come on…one drink won’t do anything to me…one gulab jamun can’t hurt…she is only a friend, so what if I cannot tell my wife about her…

Someone once told me that when you find something difficult to do but cannot fathom why, it could be your subconscious telling you that you don’t want to do it. Something like a right brain thing which runs the creative side but fails to convince the logical left brain that certain things need to be done while others, avoided.

Our whole idea of life seems to be about telling ourselves that we need to be this and do that. Setting almost ungettable goals because failing to reach gettable goals is something we cannot stomach.

Whenever I write a blog post about some issue, I start off objectively trying to put forth a problem to the readers, but towards the end I find myself trying to explain the cause of that very problem. This time…I am opening the floor itself. Not only to get your comments, but to present this problem in front of you undisturbed by my opinion.

12 thoughts on “Lying to yourself

  1. We hardly pause and think when we are lying to others. Lying to oneself,similarly is no big deal. We do it all the time. For some, it provides solace, for some an outlet to their frustrations, for some it helps in handling their ego, for some, like me, it helps to keep others happy.


  2. @Dumbo
    I see what you mean…that was a nice opinion..can u elaborate on how lying to yourself helps keep others happy?

  3. @DUMBO
    I am a little slow…I just realized wat u mean…my advice is…if u are not happy, no one can really be happy around u..think abt it

  4. You are right. If one isnt happy, others around him/her cant be too. I am talking about intiative. In some cases we become happy if we are satisfied with what we have. If I find the satisfaction of making someone happy, indirectly in long run, I think I will be happy.


  5. everybody lies to him/herself and others. only the actual degree to which they do it varies with each person. some make a big deal of it others don’t care.
    this reminds me of a favorite Sanskrit saying in my 10th grade text which went something like:
    “Integrity is when there is no discontinuity between one’s character, thought, word and deed.”

  6. um. tellin a lie is fine as long as u can differentiate it from the fact..

    the moment u start confusing it with a reality, you’re in trouble..

  7. You’ve written about something I’ve often wondered about myself, and you’ve chalked it down better than I could have.
    Lying to ourselves is no inbred and unconscious, we rarely do even register it happening. Our brain sometimes takes on the roll of the protective mother and shelters us from the destructive capacities of our own personality; by shadowing our shortcomings by propelling the blame onto something else – commonly known as defense mechanisms..
    the how’s and the why’s are endless, but I sometimes am happy lying to myself, keeps me happy 😉

  8. Steven Pinker writes about the eccentricities of human relationship in his article ‘the logic of indirect speech’, where the person lied to knows he is being lied to, in a way. I personally find it abhorrent, and typically have grown apart from ‘friends’ who have done that. I’d rather be told why someone cannot be where they said they would be, or why they didn’t call when they said they would. I find all this “putting on a facade” quite irritating, and a waste of time. I think there lies in the person, who lies, an inherent need to be “liked” or considered dependable even when they are being untrustworthy. It’s like the boy or girl who continues to lead on the other person’s hopes by never committing, but also not outright rejecting the other person’s overtures. But such acts are what the world is made of. But what kind of world is it that they aspire to? I can’t bother wasting my time with such people. Tell me if you can’t show up somewhere, is what I say. I don’t need some creative B.S. excuse.. I’ll remember next time that you are not dependable.

  9. @buddy
    your self convincing system is appreciable, but there will come a time when that glass-castle shatters at which time you realize that your lies and insulations from reality were taking you backwards instead of forwards.

  10. everyone feels an inherent need to compromise with his ‘self’ to live in this world…that which is not at all fair or such a situation how can we avoid lying to one self and be happy..the mind should be guided and not vice versa

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