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Being Honest With Yourself

boredAre you in the habit of fooling yourself?  That could mean procrastination (“Oh, I’ll do that later” when deep down, you know you won’t.)  It could be convincing yourself to settle for something, pretending it’s good enough, when deep down, you know better.  Maybe you’re struggling with addiction, in which case deceiving yourself and others can become a way of life.

A lot of us would never lie to others the way we lie to ourselves.  And sadly, lying to yourself can be most detrimental of all.  Here are some suggestions on how to stop the self-delusion and improve your life.

1)  Take a fearless inventory.

Yes, I’m borrowing from AA.  It’s a pretty good starting place for anyone who wants to make changes, whether addiction is a part of the equation or not.  If you are dealing with addiction, then getting honest with yourself is going to be crucial to your recovery.

But if you find yourself stuck, then it’s important to analyze why.

2)  Don’t beat yourself up.

This is critical.  Part of why people often lie to themselves is because the truth is so painful. Not simply because of what the truth is, but because they will be so harsh with themselves.  Better to try to hide from it than to face their own self-judgment.

Instead, reward yourself for being so honest.  Admitting frailties takes guts.

3)  Be willing to make changes based on new knowledge.

People also lie to themselves because they’re afraid that if they acknowledge their true wants and needs, they’ll only feel more stuck.  They won’t know how to get them.

Perhaps there’s some perfectionism at play, too.  If they can[‘t have everything, better to have nothing. Better to (pretend to) want nothing.

The good thing is, if you admit what you truly want, you can start to approximate it.  You might not be able to have it all, but you can get closer than what you currently have.  Which leads to…

4)  Use creativity and flexibility in problem-solving.

Sometimes people get too fixated on one way of being happy.  Figuring out workarounds is what life is all about.

5)  Seek professional help if you need it.

If you have become a compulsive liar to yourself, if what you want and need feels truly obscured, it might be time to see a therapist to sort it all out.  And give yourself credit for doing so.  It takes a whole lot of strength to come out of the dark and into the light.

Bored image available from Shutterstock.

Being Honest With Yourself

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). Being Honest With Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Apr 2014
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