A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the effect of lying on happiness (Lying and Happiness). In that article I went through reasons that we lie and how they can affect our happiness. I also briefly mentioned lying to ourself. Today I would like to take a moment and dive deeper into why we might be lying to ourselves and how it can affect us and those around us.
As I have mentioned before, I am a Baha’i and in Baha’i faith truthfulness is of great importance. Here is quote from Baha’U’llah (Founder of Baha’i faith) that explains the importance of truthfulness:
Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness, progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also be acquired.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 22)
But how about when we lie to ourselves? When we know deep down what we are doing does not agree with our believe or it is not what we really like, but we tell ourselves otherwise? Is that acceptable? What are the consequences of these lies? Who is being affected?
I think, before we can answer these questions we should look at the reason’s as why we lie to ourselves. I believe there are 4 main reasons for self lying:
- Social acceptance– we lie to our self that we are okay with certain things or we like to do specific tasks because that is what everyone else is doing. Here is an example: all your coworkers, including your boss, wake up early every Sunday morning to go for a hike, in order for you to fit in, you do the same, even though you really want to sleep in and spend your Sunday mornings relaxing and with your family.
- Fear of failure– this is a big one. We tend to lie to ourselves about our current situation, because we are afraid of trying what we really want. You might be miserable at your job and love having your own business and being able to set your own schedule, but every time you think about it and the chance that you will fail, you tell yourself oh I like my job for now.
- Lack of support– here is another reason that we lie to ourselves. We are afraid that no one will support us in what we like to do. You have been eating junk foods and it makes you feel mad and unhappy, but you tell yourself that it is not a big deal, since no one else in your household will support you with eating healthy foods. If you make a healthy dish, not only the other members of your family won’t eat it, but also they will make fun of you eating that.
- Plain laziness or lack of self discipline– we tend to keep doing what we were doing before, no matter how miserable it make us feel because we do not want to go through the trouble of finding the thing or things that we really like. Looking at the job example, you keep the same job that makes you feel miserable everyday and keep telling yourself that you are okay with it, because you are too lazy to look for other jobs, or to update your resume. Here is another example, your weight has been bothering you, and you know that you need to start exercising, but you do not have the self discipline to get up every day and go for a jog, so you tell yourself, I am Okay, I do not need to lose weight.
Now that we have a better understanding of why we lie to ourselves, let’s go back and try to answer our questions:
I believe, that self lying is as bad as lying to others. How one can be truly truthful to others, while they cannot be truthful to themselves? The answer is they can’t. If I keep lying to myself because I want to fit in, I am too afraid that I will fail, because no one else will support me in what I really like to do, or just because I am too lazy to try something different, how can I be honest with other people?
The consequences of self lye are too many. It affects our happiness, our health and well being, our confidence, and a lot more. Lying to our self not only affect us, but it also affects those who surround us. Just imagine having to work with someone who is unhappy with their job and complains about everything, how does that make you feel? Or having a friend who is truly unhappy with their body and keep criticizing you and your exercise or diet, how does that make you feel? Do you trust that friend to tell you the truth?
In order to be truthful to others, we need to start with our self.
We lie to ourselves generally due to social acceptance, fear of failure, lack of support, and laziness or lack of self discipline.
Self lie, not only affects our happiness, wellbeing and confidence, it can also affect others around us.
Hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to leave me a comment
Stay happy and healthy