Why Lying to Ourselves Is So Dangerous?
Suppose someone we work with lies to us frequently, claiming either that they can do things they can’t or that they can’t do things they can. Being repeatedly misled by them, we will eventually realize they are unreliable.
Won’t the same thing happen if we lie to ourselves? Suppose we need to follow a strict regimen to improve our health. Suppose further we don’t follow it because we are too lazy, but claim to not follow it because we are too weak. We will end up becoming unreliable to ourselves.
What makes lying to ourselves further dangerous is that we humans are psychologically vulnerable to manipulation by repetition. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, put it well, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Due to this vulnerability, we may end up unwittingly selling our lies to ourselves. When exposed to our repeated lies, our intelligence will weaken; we won’t even know when we are lying and when we aren’t. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (03.06) underscores the danger of pretending; we aren’t just deceiving others; we are deceiving ourselves too.
Being unable to rely on ourselves is far more crippling than being unable to rely on others. Why? Because we can replace others, not ourselves. We are our first and indispensable resource for doing anything, including even consulting others.
How can we make ourselves more reliable to ourselves? By conscientiously striving to be honest with ourselves. What if we still lie to ourselves because of habit? We can make time for regular introspection, wherein we evaluate our self-talk. When we thus confess to ourselves, we strengthen and sharpen our intelligence, thereby creating the foundation for reforming ourselves.
If we lie to ourselves, we can’t rely on ourselves; self-confession is foundational for self-transformation.