We clean our home before guests arrived and some of us may throw junk in the back of a closet or stuff clutter into that drawer that holds everything but what it was purposed for. Our homes appeared clean and organized as long as guests do look in those areas.
We do the same thing with our motivations and behaviors. We tidy them up. We try to hide our imperfections and maintain a good image. The problem is, while we’re busy making excuses to make ourselves look better, the people closest to us are not deceived. They know the truth. We’re usually only deceiving ourselves.
Let’s walk through 5 ways we deceive ourselves, and as we go, be open to recognize the many ways you conceal your flaws. Then, take some time to make an effort to live authentically. (And if you discover, you’d rather not walk this path alone, be sure to schedule a complimentary 30 min call where we can start making a plan of self-discovery and self-improvement.
Which of these 5 ways we deceive ourselves sounds most like you?
You are late for an appointment and you tried to make yourself look better by saying, "Traffic was horrendous on my way here." The excuse sounds better than admitting that you had left home too late.
2) Minimizing bad behaviors
Minimizing is a defense mechanism that is a form of denial. If you minimizes the negative consequences of behaviors you will continue to think “it wasn’t that bad.” Sometimes this helps to justify continuing the behavior. Other times it is an attempt to avoid addressing the issue. You can’t address a problem unless you recognize it. Minimizing the negative consequences of your behaviors means that you are not even acknowledging the full extent of the problem. Therefore, it makes it impossible to fix.
3) Shifting the blame
Another way we see ourselves in a more favorable light is to shift the blame onto someone else. We might say or think something like this: "It wasn't my fault I got so angry. She shouldn't have said that. What was I supposed to do? Sit there and take it?" Even young children naturally do this when an adult breaks up a fight. Pointing to his or her playmate we often hear, "I didn't do anything. He started it."
In an effort to hide our flaws, we exhaust ourselves trying to earn the approval of God or others by doing good deeds. Maybe we give generously of our time or money. But when our motivation is not out of love or a direction from God, no matter how kind, generous, or compassionate we look, pride is what is hiding underneath our shiny veneer.
5) Playing the victim
When we play the victim, we heap more abuse and insults on ourselves in an effort to cause others to feel pity for us. One tip-off that you are playing the victim is if you notice yourself speaking in unqualified, broad generalities. You might say something like this: "Well, it's always my fault. I'm always the one that causes all the problems around here. I never do anything right."
In some of his final thoughts to Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes,
"Pay close attention to your life and your teaching..." 1 Timothy 4:16 ISV
Pay close attention and take the time to notice whether you have a pattern of making excuses, minimizing poor behaviors, shifting the blame, overcompensating for your mistakes, or playing the victim.
While there are many ways we are deceived, I find self-deception is one of the worst kind of deceptions because we are lying to ourselves rather than being authentic. However, choosing to face self-deceptive behaviors is the first step to overcoming them.