Why do we lie to ourselves?

When we try to understand why people do what they do, we see a mix of ideas that make our choices and how we get along with others. We have simple instincts to stay safe and a desire to fit in, and these feelings and actions are all connected in interesting ways. Exploring these things helps us see why we sometimes trick ourselves, stay away from things, or want people to like us. It's like solving a puzzle to figure out how our natural ways fit together in the world.

lie to yourself

- Self-Preservation:

Self-preservation is an instinct that dates back to our evolutionary past. It was used to protect us from harm, whether physical or emotional. The physical aspect is more obvious, involving avoiding dangerous situations and seeking shelter. The emotional aspect is equally important.

Emotional self-preservation can be explained as the protection and maintenance of our emotional well-being, ensuring that we feel good and avoiding what makes us feel bad. However, when we come across information or anything that could make us feel bad, we might automatically trick ourselves into believing what isn't true as a way to protect our feelings.

Sometimes, when we face conflicting thoughts or feelings that could hurt how we see ourselves and make us feel embarrassed, worried, or regretful, we might intend to start believing things that aren't true.

For example, Imagine someone who thinks they're really good at playing video games. But if they lose a game, it makes them uncomfortable because it goes against what they believe about themselves. To feel better, they might say the game had problems or blame their internet for the loss. This way, they can still think they're great at gaming, even if they lost that one time.

Self-preservation helps us keep ourselves emotionally balanced. It helps us face daily life and its challenges without feeling torn inside. It's true that it helps us feel better for a while, but ALSO if we rely on it too much, it might stop us from growing and developing ourselves.

To benefit from self-preservation, we should always balance it with personal growth, and we can achieve that by acknowledging uncomfortable truths, confronting our weaknesses, mistakes, and areas needing improvement. It's important to recognize that admitting imperfections doesn't diminish our worth; rather, it shows how good we are at understanding ourselves and adapting to fit different situations. It's a clever way of dealing with things and staying balanced.

- Coping Mechanism:

Coping mechanisms are strategies or behaviors that individuals use to manage or tolerate stress or discomfort. These mechanisms often act as psychological defense mechanisms against overwhelming feelings.

Lying to oneself can be considered a coping mechanism. Dealing with tough truths can be really upsetting, and to make it easier, people might trick themselves into believing something different. It's a way to handle the tough feelings. Also, it helps us to create a barrier in our minds to stop us from feeling bad when we face a hard truth, giving a short break from those feelings and helping to stay emotionally balanced.

When we feel uncomfortable because we received bad news or learned something that doesn't match what we thought, we use coping tricks to help us feel better. It's like a tool to fix this inner struggle and make things feel right again in our minds.

While coping mechanisms can offer temporary relief, relying on them excessively can prevent us from getting better at understanding ourselves and growing. When we ignore things that make us uncomfortable, we could miss chances to learn, become better, and handle our feelings well.

-  Avoiding Pain:

Avoiding pain is something we all naturally do to stay safe and well; it's a part of our survival mechanisms. When it comes to lying to ourselves, it occurs because we want to feel better emotionally. We strive to steer clear of things that cause us distress, such as situations, thoughts, or feelings that trouble us.

Admitting mistakes or confronting unpleasant truths often leaves us feeling vulnerable. We might worry that it portrays us as weak. To avoid this exposure, we might instead deceive ourselves. This provides short-term relief from emotional discomfort by constructing a narrative that is more soothing, allowing us to evade facing the challenging aspects.

As mentioned earlier, deceiving ourselves brings temporary comfort, but it can hinder long-term growth. If we evade difficult emotions, we miss opportunities to learn, transform, and fortify ourselves emotionally. Rather than solely resorting to self-deception, we can address challenging emotions in healthier ways. We can engage in conversations with friends, family, or professionals, extend kindness to ourselves, and contemplate the true nature of our internal struggles.

- Perceived Control (Feeling in Charge)

Perceived control means thinking we have power or control over what happens in our lives, such as events, situations, or outcomes. It's like believing that our actions and decisions can shape our environment and the events that happen around us. This perception of control can really affect how we feel inside and how we handle tough situations in life.

Believing we have control over things is linked to why we lie to ourselves. When we're in situations we can't predict or control, we might trick ourselves to feel like we're in charge again. It's a way to take control of how we see things.

Better ways than lying to ourselves include building a genuine sense of control. We can do this by concentrating on things we can actually change and learning how to solve problems. Activities like meditation, getting help from others, and becoming emotionally stronger are also good ways to feel in control without deceiving ourselves.

By distorting facts or convincing ourselves of a preferred narrative, we make things seem stable and predictable. This feeling of control is like a cozy blanket in situations that would normally make us worried or uneasy. Uncertainty can lead to feelings of anxiety or fear of the unknown. By convincing ourselves of certain outcomes or suppressing uncomfortable truths, individuals can reduce the anxiety associated with the unpredictable.

- Social Acceptance:

Social acceptance refers to approval, recognition, and validation. It means wanting people to think we're okay and fit in with them, doing what's expected. This need to be accepted by others really affects how we act and decide things.

Lying to yourself can be linked to the desire for social acceptance and wanting others to like us. We might change how we see things or ignore certain facts so we seem more likable and fit in better with others. The fear of not being accepted by others can lead us to deceive ourselves. We might try to adopt some beliefs or behaviors that we think might help us gain others' approval.

Wanting people to like you is okay, but it's important to balance that with being true to yourself. Changing what we think or hiding truths to get approval can make you lose who you really are.

- Fear of Change:

The fear of change is a common human response to uncertain and unfamiliar situations. It's a natural reaction to the unknown, and it can make us feel anxious or unsure. 

Lying to yourself can be closely tied to the fear of change. We might trick ourselves to stay where we are comfortable and avoid dealing with the uncertainties that come with change.

Change means going into the unfamiliar, which can make us feel vulnerable and uneasy. Also, change can carry an element of uncertainty. Individuals might try to trick themselves so they can have a short-term feeling of safety, and facing it often requires stepping into the unknown, which can trigger feelings of vulnerability and discomfort.

For example, someone who's thinking of changing their job. The idea of a new career with its unknowns and challenges might seem scary. So, to not deal with that fear, they might pretend to themselves that the new job would be hard or that their current job is super safe, even if it's not.

At the end, it's all about balance and finding the right mix. It's normal to like what's familiar, but when we always try to find comfort, that will stop us from growing, learning, and becoming a better version of ourselves.