The Harm of Self-Deception


In my sobriety journey, I needed to learn the root causes of what led me to my addiction. The behavior was easy to identify: I was drinking too much, I was hiding it, I was spending too much money it, I was lying about it. In my addiction, I was not fully present with my family, my career, my church, my community. Addiction consumed all of my time.

But just changing the behavior was not enough. I had to acknowledge the hurts, insecurities, and fears that led me to that behavior.

And that was the scary part.

I could put on a good show. (At least, I thought I could.) I could maintain as well as anybody. I didn’t miss work. The bills were paid. The children were fed. Our house was secure. I showed up everywhere I was supposed to show up. When people looked at me, most probably thought I was doing all right.

In order to make them think I was doing all right, I had to convince myself that I was doing all right. I had to look at myself in the mirror and be okay with what I saw. I had to fix my face and create my story. And once I believed it, I could and be among other people.

I had to hide a lot. Again, it was not just my behavior I had to hide. I had to hide my fear. I don’t like any hint of any kind of interpersonal conflict. But I couldn’t let people know that. And I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I wanted to be in control of every situation, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was controlling. So I became quite passive-aggressive. Yet I convinced myself that I was truly in command.

The interesting thing about all of this is that I doubt I was as convincing to others as I was to myself. And I often wonder if I truly convinced myself.

I spent a lot of time putting on a show for other people. But that began with putting on a show for myself. I deceived a lot of people. But first I had to deceive myself.

The hard work of spirituality is recognizing the act and starting to look at what is really there. The truth hurts. But the truth is necessary. We have deceived ourselves long enough. Let’s stop.

One thought on “The Harm of Self-Deception

  1. 40 Day Journey: Third Sunday Wrap-Up – A Second Time Paul

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