Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dancing with Self-Deception

Remember the classic story of self-deception, The Emperor’s New Clothes?  Remember that one lone voice of reason? That voice is yours. And what does this have to do with wellness and positive lifestyle behavior changes? Read on . . .

Self-deception is rampant when it comes to human affairs, and this absolutely includes making lifestyle behavior changes. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. One should never underestimate the power of a positive illusion. It might be just what we need to get us through the day.  Enhanced motivation (a polite term for self-deception) can actually enable us to do better as we face challenges than the outcomes realized by people with a more realistic view of their abilities. The popular shorthand for this is, “fake it till you make it.”

Now, let’s confuse the issue a little more. Self-deception is actually somewhat contradictory.  We all probably know how to go about deceiving someone else (of course, we would never do such a thing). But, in the case of self-deception, the deceiver and the deceived are the same person. So, do you believe what you know is false? And, if you know it’s false, how do you believe it?

Consider that our perception of the world around us is certainly biased and that for better or worse, we can convince ourselves of things that are not true. We look at the world through filters that make our decisions more palatable. We also impose our beliefs on what we see and what we hope to accomplish. We don’t just experience situations as they are, but also according to our beliefs about how we want them to be. And, it is our beliefs that in turn influence what we experience.

This is true of many of the events we experience on a daily basis—they’re ambiguous and open to interpretation. Our own individual interpretation. It’s that interpretation that will move us down that road to wellness—because that’s what we want it to do, and because it’s what we believe it will do.

And, this is where the dancing comes in. We can dance around the “I can do this, I can’t do this, I think I can, I know I can’t” all day long. But at the end of the day, it’s up to us to decide who we want to be and what we want to accomplish—and then do it.

So, the big question here is do you want to change certain lifestyle behaviors? Do you believe you can? And, even if you’re afraid you can’t, what we’re saying is, go for it anyway. Tell yourself yes you can, and then tell yourself over and over until you believe it.

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