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How to stop lying to yourself

ByRheaWessel
11July2016

Newlydivorced,EleanorBainthoughtshedfinallymetthemanofher
dreams.Shewasinanewcity,lookingforanewjobandstartinganew
lifewithhertwodaughters,whenshefellinlove,orsoshethought.

"
Itslikeaboomerang,whenyousuddenly
realisethatthisisnotsopeachy

Butalongwiththepositivesofsharedinterests,therewereplentyof
negatives.Sometimesthepairendedupscreamingateachotherfor
hoursonend.
Lookingback,Bainsaysshewasindenialabouttherelationship.Itsnot
thatyoudontwanttoseeit,saysBain.Youdontseeitatall.She
wouldnthearitwhenfriendshintedsomethingmightnotbeworking.I
dideverythingtoconvincethemthathewasthemanofmylife.
Whydowedoit?Selfdeceptionisatoolforprotectingyourselffrom
painfulfacts.Itswhyweclaimtobehonestbutbreaktherulesanyway
tellourselveswewantsomethinglikeafinanciallysecureretirementbut
consciouslyconstructtheopposite,orstickwithacompanyevenwhen
wevebeenpassedoverforapromotionatwork.

Areyoufactresistant?Youmaybeindenial.(Credit:GettyImages)

Delusionmaymakedaytodaylivingeasier,butitusuallycomesata
price,accordingtoCamCaldwell,avisitingprofessorofmanagementat

PurdueUniversityNorthCentral,IndianaintheUS,whohasbeen
researchingidentity,selfawarenessandselfdeceptionfordecades.He
definesselfdeceptionastheholdingoftwoconflictingideaswithout
acknowledgingtheconflict.
Thepricefordeceivingyourselfincludestheriskofalienation,whenyou
loseyourabilitytoconnectwithothersbecauseyourdevotiontoyourown
viewofrealityisgreaterthanyourinterestinthetruth,Caldwellwritesin
anacademicpaper,citingAmericanpsychiatristMScottPeck.
Forthosewhowanttoavoidburyingtheirheadsinthesand,askyourself
thisquestion:Whatsworsealittlebadnewsaboutyouractualsituation,
orabusinessasusualapproachthatleadstoatrainwreckforyour
partnership,yourmoneyoryourcareer?Whilefacinguptodenialcanbe
astrugglewhenitcomestomattersoftheheart,nottacklingtheproblems
canaffectallaspectsofyourlife.
Whenitdoesntaddup
Mostofusareguiltyofdenialatsomestageinourlife.Consideryour
finances.Youdassumenumbersonpaperarefactsthatarentopenfor
interpretation.Butwhenselfdeceptionandwishfulthinkingcomeinto
play,thatsnotalwaysthecase,saidKathleenGurney,theCEOof
FinancialPsychologyCorporation,basedinSarasota,Florida.
Shehasevenseenfinancialadvisorsunabletoseetheplaintruth,
despitethedepthoftheirtechnicalknowledgeaboutmoneymanagement.
Shementionedoneadvisorunabletoseetheriskoflosinghishousedue
tomissedmortgagepayments.Otherclientshaverefusedtoseethe
impactofcreditcarddebtstrungoutoveryears,Gurneysaid.

"
Selfdeceptionhasdistinctstagesandcan
becomechronic.
Selfdeceptionhasdistinctstagesandcanbecomechronic,Gurney
said.Thefirstissimpledenialofunpleasantfacts,likeyouarebouncing
chequesorareregularlylateonbills.

Ifyou'seenoevil,hearnoevil,speaknoevil'canyouconvinceyourselfthat
everything'sfine?(Credit:GettyImages)

Asecondformofdenialisminimisation.Inthisstage,thepersonadmits
thefact,butclaimsitsOKandrationalisestheaction.Itstrue(thisis
happening),butaslongasIkeepenoughmoneyinthere,Imnotgoingto
bounceanycheques.
Athirdformofdenialisprojection.Thisiswhenyouadmittheproblembut

shiftresponsibilityforit.Iknow,butitsreallynotmyfaultbecauseIm
sobusyandIhaveseveraljobs
Gurneysadvice:Consultwithafriendoraprofessionaltoanalysewhats
workinginyourfinancesandwhatsnot.Keepaskingthequestionsto
yourselfuntilyoucomeupwithanswers.Anotherideaistotakea
psychologicalevaluationtodetermineyourmoneypersonalitytogiveyou
greaterinsightintoyourownbehaviour.
Moreideas:Makeachartthatjuxtaposeswhatyousayyouwantversus
whatyouactuallydo,orasGurneysuggests,writedownemotionsyou
haveaboutyourfinancesoncards,pilethemupandseeifyoucanspota
trend.
Thewritingonthewall
Selfdeceptionisnotlimitedtofinancesandrelationships.Italsoplagues
manypeoplethroughouttheircareers.Hereagain,itsquiteeasytolet
wishfulthinkingreplaceasoundassessmentofthefacts.Thatswhat
happenedtoaclientofNadineGimbel,acareercoachinFrankfurtwho
issalesmanagerforRF/FRaumFuerFuehrung,aconsultancywhich
supportsorganisationsandmanagementwithchangeprocesses.

"
Lifeincludeschange,andweoftenholdonto
thingsbecausewereafraid.Usuallyweonly
regretthestepswedidnttake.
OnewomanshehelpedwasamidlevelexecutiveatamajorGerman
bankwhocomplainedaboutnotbeingpromoted,despitelonghoursand

hardwork.Thewoman,inherearly40s,hadonlyavagueideaofwhere
shewantedtogoandwhyshewantedtogothere.Shewasalsowaiting
aroundforsomeonetonoticethatshewasdoingagreatjob.Thisself
imposedblindnesshadkepthercareerstagnant.
Shewasfoolingherselfbythinkingthatsomeoneelsehadtodiscover
her,saidGimbel,whoworkedwiththewomanonarticulatingwhatshe
wantedandcommunicatingthattoherboss.Shedidthisandtheboss
realisedwhereshewascomingfrom.
Gimbelssuggestiontothosewhoareavoidingthewritingonthewallat
workistofirstgetclarityonwhatyoureallywant.Thentakeresponsibility
bytakingthenecessaryactions,suchascommunicatingwhatyouwantor
leavingajobthatsnotworking.Lifeincludeschange,andweoftenhold
ontothingsbecausewereafraid,Gimbelsaid.Usuallyweonlyregret
thestepswedidnttake,orthechangeswedidntmake.Wedontknow
wherewewouldhavegoneifwehadntbeenafraid.
Findingcourage
Ofcourse,seeingtruthsaboutyourselfandactingonthemrequires
courageandsteadfastness.ForBain,thetippingpointinherpersonal
relationshipcamewhenshesawhernewpartnercriticiseherdaughters.
Itslikeaboomerang,whenyousuddenlyrealisethatthisisnotso
peachy,saidBain,whoaddedshefeltacutepainandwantedtorunfor
herlifewhenshefinallyunderstoodthedenialshehadbeenlivingin.
Itfeltlikethecurtainsuddenlyopenedandyoucanseewhatthereality
is.
TocommentonthisstoryoranythingelseyouhaveseenonBBCCapital,

headovertoourFacebookpageormessageusonTwitter.

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