Self-deception is the art of knowing something deep within you while persistently pretending ignorance. For example, you know you are in a loveless relationship, bullying and sexual harassment are going on in the office, your child’s changed behaviour is not normal, your friend is not your friend, the decision made should not have been made, or you do not know what you are doing! You know something must change! At its core, self-deception is a defence mechanism, a veil you cast over your true thoughts, feelings, and knowledge. It often arises from fear, insecurity, or a desire to maintain a particular image weaving a web that becomes a challenge to untangle. When you distort reality refusing to acknowledge what you truly know, you make decisions based on flawed information leading to poor choices, strained relationships, and missed opportunities. Acting like you do not know is mentally exhausting as it festers beneath the surface, causing inner turmoil, stress, anxiety, and even depression. It results from the lack of harmony between your conscious ignorance and subconscious awareness.
Self-deception does not exist in isolation. It affects those within your circles of influence. When you pretend not to know what you know, nothing changes, and you betray the trust of those who rely on your honesty. Friends, family, and colleagues may feel deceived and hurt by your actions, eroding the foundation of your relationships. You also become vulnerable to manipulation and betrayal by others. Those who recognise your blindness may exploit it to their advantage. Society loses when individuals withhold their knowledge, as innovations and progress often stem from shared expertise. Pretence erodes trust in relationships and institutions when people suspect hidden agendas.
What is your motive behind the pretence?
Þ You fear criticism, rejection, or loss if you openly acknowledge what you know.
Þ You believe it is boastful to acknowledge your abilities.
Þ You want to escape accountability for your actions or decisions.
Learning how to navigate through this is essential and the journey begins with self-reflection and awareness.
Read also: Ignorance is the enemy
Þ Acknowledge your fears without judgment in your areas of self-deception. Explore the underlying fears or insecurities that drive your behaviour. What specific aspect of your knowledge scares you?
Þ Invite honest feedback from trusted individuals so they can provide valuable insights. They may see things you have been unwilling to acknowledge and guide you toward a more honest perspective.
Þ Admit and be vulnerable to your own limitations and face the uncomfortable truths. Understand both positive and negative outcomes to lessen exaggeration while recognising and managing your emotions. This helps you navigate the discomfort that often accompanies self-awareness.
Þ Understand that others may also be struggling with pretense. Create a safe space for authenticity.
Þ If the fear is paralysing, start with small, manageable steps. Gradually work your way up to addressing the larger issue or relationship dynamics.
Þ Express your thoughts, feelings, and concerns calmly and respectfully. Choose a suitable time and place for the conversation.
Þ Establish healthy boundaries in relationships to help alleviate fear. It ensures that you prioritise your well-being and communicate your needs clearly.
Þ Engage in self-care activities that help you manage stress and anxiety. This can include meditation, exercise, journaling, or spending time in nature.
Þ Understand that you cannot control how the other person will react or the ultimate outcome of the situation. Focus on expressing your truth and being true to yourself.
Regardless of the outcome, view your experiences as opportunities for personal growth and learning. Overcoming fear and acting on what you know leads to increased confidence and resilience. As you lift away the veil of self-deception, a remarkable transformation occurs a) more informed and effective decision-making, b) deeper connections, c) shedding of limiting beliefs and behaviours as a catalyst for personal growth, d) emotional freedom for increased happiness and well-being, and e) society benefits from shared knowledge generating collective growth and innovation.
The world too often values appearances over authenticity. The act of pretending not to know what you genuinely know and feel can have far-reaching consequences. Your “gut feeling” is a reminder of the importance of authenticity and the potential consequences of concealing what you know. It serves as a signal that aligning your actions with your true knowledge is not only more honest but also more conducive to personal well-being and healthier relationships. Face your fears! Acknowledge your knowledge, understand your motivations, and foster a culture of authenticity to unlock personal growth, stronger relationships, and collective progress. It is time to stop pretending and start embracing the power of what you know.
“The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost