Lies: The illusion of self
One of the destructive results of lying is not knowing who we are. A lie is an illusion. And believing a lie about ourselves leaves us with an illusion about ourselves. How can this be?
Denial is a coping mechanism that inhibits us from facing the truth about ourselves. It’s a form of resistance preventing us from taking a good, honest look at who we are inside. We naturally try to avoid pain and pursue pleasure; and denial is the best way of avoiding the not-so-pleasant truth about ourselves.
But while we remain in denial we will have difficulty seeing what other people see. When I look in the mirror I see only what I want to see. And most of it is an illusion. These are the ‘beliefs’ that I have about myself – things about my outward appearance, my intellectual capabilities, the way I come across to others, what I deserve in life.
When I joined a fellowship of 12 Step recovery and began to work the steps, one of the first things I had to face was my powerlessness. I had to admit that my life was out of control and completely unmanageable. Without this recognition my recovery was doomed from the start and I was forever locked in my addiction.
Self-awareness and self-acceptance was key to my recovery. The lies I told myself needed to surface in order to begin a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. Without honesty the long road to recovery wasn’t going to happen. I was forever destined to circle the issue without ever attacking the real problem.
It can be compared to the mother who, when asked where her children are, responds with “Oh, I really don’t want to know. Please don’t tell me what they’re up to.” Like an ostrich with its head in sand we prefer not to know. “Ignorance is bliss,” we say. “What I don’t know won’t kill me.” And all the while we are in denial the cancer grows and spreads all around our lives.
There is only one way to fix the problem of denial and the illusion of self: Tell the truth – and do it quickly. Strip off the whitewashed walls of your self-image and begin to take a look at who you are for real. No more stories in your head about how great things are, and how well you’re doing.
And no more stories about what isn’t there. A poor self-image causes us to believe horrible things about ourselves that are far from true. But when we’re convinced that we are worthless, we try to convince others as well. It’s not because we hate ourselves; far from it – we believe these negative stories because somehow it works for us. We get something from it. Perhaps in a perverse sort of way we find it comforting to believe that we will never amount to anything. That way, we won’t have to try.
Tomorrow’s topic – Deception: I need to hide