Face The mirror: Self-Honesty

Once, I was talking to my psychologist about the difficulties of social science. She told me that one of the perks of being a physicist includes that many people do not know about physics: Stars, fundamental laws, radiations. So if you’ve a good research and you can support what you know then people will trust you blindly.

On the other hand, many people are remarkably aware with the subject of social sciences. When discover findings about human behavior that go against people’s mindset, they’ll likely resist your research insights.

No one knows us better than ourselves. Self-knowledge is the biggest and easiest favor you can do to yourself. We’re blessed with a lifetime of research on ourselves.

However sometimes, We fail as experts on the subject of ourselves. Human brain is prone to overconfidence, placebo, loss-aversion and prototype effects. These biases might be deeply ingrained in human nature, making it challenging to conquer it.

Built To Bluff

Humans have a common nature to pretend or exaggerate whether it’s to impress others or gain an advantage. Social desirability bias has become so common that it can provide conclusions that are mathematically impossible.

In 1994, men and women were asked to fill a survey form to track their sexual partner count. According to the form, men had 74% more sexual partners compared to woman.

It’s mathematically not possible for men and women to have unequal number of heterosexual partners, assuming a 50/50 gender split. Every man’s female partner has a corresponding male partner.

The data tells that people have a collective habit of lying.

It’s not just the researchers people deceive, they’re actually deceiving themselves. Your lie won’t support you for longer in fact it will make things harder for you. The police interviewers demonstrate beyond a doubt that people will back off from their lie relieving the truth because they can’t align their lie with a long conversation.

When you lie unknowingly, it becomes easier. Social desirability is a type of self-delusion, moreover it influences our point of view about ourselves. This is like a filter we put on and we convince ourselves that this is the truth, however it may even not be closer to the reality.

For suppose; someone asks you if you like jogging every morning and you say “yes” just to make yourself seem healthy however, you hate to go out in morning but gradually you might develop this habit because you’ve been saying It for so long to people and that is the rosier picture that you first made up and then you possess it.

Honesty With Oneself

Since we don’t have the courage to confront uncomfortable truths, we try to maintain a positive self-image, there are high chances for that image to be far away from what we really are and this only hinders us to understand what truly inspires us.

Our self-deception makes a perfect image of ourselves and we trick people that we’re pursuing higher motivations. While in reality, we struggle to cope up with the basic ones.

For instance, some people only drink exclusive wines to show they are elite class and cultured person. High price of wine makes them think the wine tastes better, however, even the experts of wine fail to differentiate red wine and white wine.

There is another possibility that your love for wine may be a self deception. The quality of wine is not what makes it good for you but you’re attracted by the fact that it’s rare and expensive. However our brain won’t be able to distinguish between cheap wine and expensive one but we prioritize social image rather than enjoying pure taste bud therefore if you know you can’t discriminate then you’re making a fool of yourself by purchasing the expensive wine.

Although, the price of the wine may influence your enjoyment because if you know the wine is costly, you’ll expect improved quality which makes it seem tastier. This is called the “placebo effect” of price. However, information about vintage and region may also excite you to buy the expensive one.

People might opt for the thinks like expensive wine, Shakespeare, or books not because they desire for it but only to show off. “Do we pick things out of personal fondness, or do we just want to be someone we’re not?”

Free Yourself From Denial

We naturally want to be truthful to ourselves. What good are we doing if we’re constantly lying to ourselves.

Some forms of self-deception might be helpful. They might have evolved because they were better for our survival than knowing the harsh reality. After all, not every truth needs to be spoken.

Suppose, One of my acquaintance loves to drink expensive wine but deeply we both know that he enjoys the price rather than the wine because its price makes him feel superior in status. If I confront him, will he stop deceiving himself? No, in fact, he’ll become aggressive on me for exposing what he really thinks. Neither of us benefits.

Self-deception might be useful but it is a theory of life that makes decisions harder. When you’re not aware of your true inspirations, it becomes harder for you to live in the world.

We all want to live the best way possible, which is why things like religion and self-help books are popular. However, living life to its fullest is not always clear, our brain might even play some tricks with us, making it even harder to figure out.

Analyzing Your Own Behavior

Science helps us understand ourselves in a better way. But we can’t understand human’s nature completely because it’s full of complicated exceptions.

We’re accountable for our behavior and we should test it, treat it just like any other important thing. All you’ve to do is simply observe your behavior deeply and take full command of it.

To do that, you should start from keeping a track of things you think about. Note down what inspires you, then predict the outcome of those inspirations. When you’ve a wealth of experience , turn back and see if those inspirations were worth it.

Maybe you feel nervous that if you shift your career, it won’t give you any financial benefit. Then you actually switch your career  and you begin to earn less. Later on you realized, that your fear was not the less money but you were pre-occupied by the fear of people’s questions.

Reflective-writing helps you see things more clearly. It makes it harder to deceive yourself about the past. When you write things down, you write your true thoughts and feelings that you had at that time. Later on, It will help you know what exactly was going in your mind in past.

Self-understanding is probably a tough row to hoe, but it’s a pursuit that’s well worth the effort.

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