Thoughts On Self-Deception

Benjamin Franklin 1767
Benjamin Franklin 1767 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“It is the easiest thing in the world
for a person to deceive himself.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
….”Self-deception is a human talent we have all practiced at one time or another ~ denial about our faults, our slow pace in personal growth, the danger of large and small addictions, how well we treat others…..We deceive ourselves when we ruthlessly seek our wants or use other people to attain them. We lie to ourselves to shield our conscience from the truth. When we deceive ourselves, we are hurting ourselves the most. Such deception leads to the creation of a false self that protects us from confronting the truth. The cure is pure honesty and humility. True humility never tolerates self-deception.” ~ Brother Wayne Teasdale
Since I seem to be on this weird journey of self-discovery, I thought I would examine self-deception this morning. One thing I have noticed about having Bipolar Disorder is that it seems to be linked in many people with what I call the “curse of charisma.” A bipolar can be very charming when they want to be, or when they want something from someone else. We are usually at our most charming when we are in the early stages of a manic episode. We feel energized, like the world is here to do our bidding, that we can do anything we please even if it is completely off the wall. Then we crash.
It is in these two states that we are most likely to be deceiving not only ourselves but others as well. Frequently, while in the midst of scathing depression, we convince ourselves that it is not that bad, and put on our game faces to greet the world. We do the same thing when manic. We hide the truth that what we are doing or how we are behaving does not have any negative effects on those around us. However, that is not what others see. These things are true of many people not just those with Bipolar disorder. 
What others may see is selfishness, greed, a lack of empathy, or a person being used for selfish gain. It is kind of like putting on makeup. When a woman puts on makeup, she highlights certain features that she herself finds attractive. It can be her eyes, her lips, her cheekbones. Whatever it is, she plays that up. But makeup is deceiving in that it shields the real face of the wearer. Try looking at yourself with no makeup on (for women) and no poker face (analogy for men). What do you see when you look at your naked self? Do you see someone who is honest and humble and compassionate towards others? Do you see someone who respects others needs and wants? Or, do you see someone who is the exact opposite of those traits? 
When I am being honest with myself, I can see that I am or can be a very selfish person, that I am truly afraid that other people would not like me if they got to know me well, I see a person who is not comfortable with herself, and I do not mean being alone with my self, but rather someone who does not like who she is, but feels powerless to change it. I see someone who is damaged and angry about it, I see someone who will be whoever you want them to be (charismatic people are like chameleons), and I really do not like that about myself. I feel like I should be liked or disliked based on who I really am, not the person I show the world.
I also see someone who chooses to be blind to what others see as my faults. I see someone who is at their core a scared and abandoned child. And a person who acts like that child at times: selfish, greedy, incapable of empathy, unable to see the viewpoint of others, a person who manipulates others through threats and tantrums. Just like a child would. 
Maybe I am too hard on myself, maybe I am not all the things I fear that I am. But, deep down my inner adult knows that these things are true. I guess that makes me human. I am just as fallible as everyone else. I am just going to have to CHOOSE to see my faults, and work toward a better self. Not a perfect one because that would be impossible, but one that embodies honesty, humility, and real compassion for all things.

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