Obstacles to Happiness


Home Assess Yourself Obstacles to Happiness Inner Character Detector Self-Sabotage Top 20 How We Fool Ourselves Find the Authentic You Live Your Best Life Links and Resources Helpful Books About the Book

“We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.”
– Eric Hoffer

"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it."
– Emily Dickinson


Self-deception: It's as if a part of you doesn't want the rest of you to know what it's doing. Self-deception is universal. Often harmless. At times humorous. But sometimes what you don't know can hurt you.

Counterproductive self-deception can take many forms. Look through the following 12 examples and ask yourself: Do I recognize behaviors like these in myself or people I know?

  1. Repeatedly enter inappropriate romantic relationships, each time vowing that this one will be different
  2. Spend more time fantasizing about improbable financial windfalls, like winning the lottery, than working
  3. Overbook and overpromise so often that you no longer trust what they say
  4. Work hard to lose twenty pounds through various diets, then quickly regain the lost weight and then some
  5. Dwell on regrets or resentments and can’t seem to move on
  6. Endlessly take care of others’ needs ahead of their own but, in a candid moment, tell you how unappreciated they feel
  7. Procrastinate by submitting a job application late after hours of hard work, only to find the job filled
  8. Make major decisions without considering the consequences
  9. Automatically shun advice or a helping hand
  10. Ignore a romantic partner’s mistreatment, or stay in an unhealthy relationship even after deciding to leave
  11. Overspend wildly, but get a steady stream of new credit card applications
  12. Yearn to have children, but choose potential mates who send clear signals that they aren’t interested in being a parent

If you do recognize a pattern of self-deception or self-defeating behavior, it does not mean that there is something wrong with you, or that you are "bad" or "flawed" as a person. Self-defeating behavior is not anything to hide or feel guilty about. If you sometimes miss the boat, “step in it,” or trip yourself up, you are simply human. Self-defeating behavior is a habit reinforced by biology, culture, and your individual upbringing and development. Like any habit, it can be unlearned.
 

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Copyright © Dan Neuharth, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Secrets You Keep From Yourself published by St. Martin's Press

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