This post was updated on Feb 11, 2023
Humans are highly skilled at deceiving themselves. In fact, self-deception is one of our strongest defense mechanisms. We like to believe things that feel good to us and match our idea of ourselves, while we choose to ignore the less pleasing aspects of ourselves and our relationships with others.
While dishonesty can cause a great deal of pain in relationships, it can cause even more harm if we direct it inward. But is this always true? Isn’t a little bit of self-deception necessary to lead a comfortable life? Hopefully this will help answer the question of why we lie to ourselves and present some ways in which you can break through self-deception.
If you are struggling to avoid the pitfalls of self-deception, overcome low self-esteem, or stop idealizing your relationships, remember that you are not alone. A romantic relationship building skills workshop can give you the resources and knowledge you need to better understand yourself and your survival patterns. Read on to learn how to get out of the clutches of self-deception.
What Does It Mean When You Lie To Yourself?
There are endless reasons why we may choose to deceive ourselves. In fact, people can lie to themselves about practically anything, from finding excuses to fallacies in their thinking to ignoring toxic traits in their partners. Here are 3 common reasons why you may resort to self-deception:
You Want Your Thoughts And Actions To Be Valid
Most people want their feelings, beliefs, and actions to align. We have an inner drive for cognitive consistency, seeking harmony of our behaviors and attitudes. If we do or feel something that goes against our core principles or the idea we have about ourselves, we tend to feel uncomfortable. When we feel this mental discomfort, we are actually experiencing cognitive dissonance, which occurs when we express conflicting beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors.
You May Be Trying To Avoid Change
Sometimes, being truthful to yourself means accepting the fact that you need to make a significant change in your life. You may be in a toxic relationship or stuck in a job that doesn’t let you grow, being in denial even though you know deep down that you aren’t satisfied. Just keep in mind that the fear of change can slow down self-improvement and stop you from having new experiences and ideas as well as meeting new people.
You Don’t Want To Feel Pain
Another reason why you may be in denial is because you don’t want to rock the boat. If uncovering and accepting the truth means that you or someone else would get hurt, it’s only natural that you’d try and cover it up. Especially if you have a past laced in pain that still gets easily triggered in your relationships. While maintaining the status quo can be a good thing, you can only grow if you confront your fears and take risks. Even if that means making other people uncomfortable.
Is It Healthy To Lie To Yourself?
Although lying to yourself is more common than you realize, it can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health. This is primarily because you may remain in a situation which is far from ideal, stunting your own psychological growth and improvement.
You may also start to ignore your own needs and harbor resentment towards your partner or other individuals in your life, which can bubble up to the surface in bouts of passive aggressiveness. In short, denying your own desires and deceiving yourself can only hold you back and prevent you from reaching your full potential.
How Do You Know If You’re Lying To Yourself About A Relationship?
Detecting self-deception in romantic relationships can be challenging. We want our relationships with others to be ideal and will go to great lengths to paint a perfect picture of our partner and ourselves, ignoring the less appealing aspects of the relationship.
Signs You’re Lying To Yourself
But how can you tell that you’re deceiving yourself in a relationship? Here are some tell-tale signs:
- Your mind is restless. If you keep thinking about your relationship over and over, trying to convince yourself that everything is fine, there’s a good chance that you’re being self-deceptive.
- You constantly have to defend your partner. Do you feel like you have to justify your partner to your family or friends? You keep trying to find excuses for the less satisfying aspects of your relationship, losing so much of your time and energy in the process.
- You won’t take advice from other people. While it’s true that you should follow your own path and make your own decisions, the people closest to you probably want what’s best for you, but you keep getting defensive if they question your happiness or criticize your relationship.
- You are overly stressed in the relationship. A relationship should be a source of joy and comfort, not stress and anxiety. If you feel on edge most of the time you spend with your partner, you may be deceiving yourself big time.
How To Stop Lying to Yourself
While there’s no doubt that beating your self-deceptive dependencies will be hard, it’s far from impossible. Here’s what you can do:
If you have an emotional reaction to something, it is very likely that it reminded you of something that is raw, painful, or unresolved in your life. If something hurts, you’ll be more likely to deceive yourself.
Having this in mind, it is a good idea to stop yourself to think each time you have a strong emotional reaction. What are you feeling and why? Is this caused by unresolved issues you’re carrying from the past? If you notice your emotional triggers, you’ll find it easier to detect self-deception.
It’s perfectly normal to want to believe that your thoughts reflect reality realistically. This is true for most people – we believe that our thoughts are accurate even when that is far from being true.
Unfortunately, we are often irrational in our thinking, especially in romantic relationships. And, if we have a history of abandonment and/or neglect, we tell ourselves what we need to hear to deflect the pain of the past. Try to notice irrational thoughts in yourself and try to analyze them, looking for their cause without trying to justify yourself.
You may not want to admit it, but your behaviors reflect your identity at least to some extent. For instance, you may struggle with extreme jealousy and insecurity, checking your partner’s messages constantly, but claim that you’re not a jealous person. Try to look for inconsistencies in your behavior and ask yourself what drives it and what you are trying to ignore.
Find Your Courage At Our Couples Retreat Relationship Workshop
Whether you don’t want to admit that you’ve lost attraction to your partner or want to finally end an unhealthy relationship, you’ve come to the right place. At PIVOT, we strive to help individuals like yourself find the courage to accept the truth and start their journey toward self-improvement.