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