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Why do we self-deceive?

Many people have heaved a sign of relief that ‘dry January’ has come to an end because although some may be virtuous in their ability to have completed the month, (which is, of course, no small feat and should be heartily commended), for many, it wouldn’t have been the most successful, as is backed by the BUPA 2015 poll that states that approximately 43% break their resolution within the first month. I got thinking when I overheard a friend of mine, known to pass out at many a party due to alcohol excess, saying the other day ‘Well, I couldn’t stick to dry January, but then I don’t drink that much anyway’.

The fact is we are terrible self-deceivers. We often lie to ourselves about how much we drink and about how much we eat. We deceive ourselves as to whether we really are attracted to someone or not or whether we are enjoying what we tell other people we truly are. We lie to ourselves about bigger choices – careers,  partners, becoming parents.

Why do we do this? Partly its because we fear the truth – we don’t want to deal with the consequences that facing reality will generate. Self-acceptance is a funny thing. We need it and yet we shy away from it. Better to either avoid or  denigrate our selves than accept the truth, since we need to preserve our ‘ideal self’ and to some extent our ‘ideal world.’

However much wool we may draw over our eyes, we live our reality. Our truth is part of how we think, behave and relate. Grieving for an ideal is part of life and sad as it is, it needs to happen. It’s time to face the truth and accept responsibility for oneself. Self-acceptance and self-compassion enable living a far more content life, in the present and for the future.