Self-Deception Examples and Lies We Believe About Ourselves

We live in a society where self-image is heavily influenced by perceptions of status and social media worshiping. The lies we tell and believe about ourselves, whether positive or negative, are prime examples of self-deception. Even when used for self-protection, let’s say by sugarcoating reality, building confidence or suppressing painful feelings, it’s critical to recognize it’s harmful impact. Here’s how to stop believing the lies we tell ourselves and why we do it in the first place.

"Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others." – Fyodor… Click To Tweet


Scroll to the end for Quotes About Lies and Self-Deception

Tell Me No More Lies – The Struggle with Inner Dialogue

Sometimes I feel like I’m struggling through an intense arm wrestling match. Leaning one way are my perceptions. What I see represented on social media, the news, the neighbors, and my uncontrollable assumptions on where I fit in to it all. Leaning the other way is reality. The real world, and all those in it, that now more than ever I do my best to reside in without assumptions and expectations. The world that doesn’t owe me anything, except maybe this platform to help me from not having an unlived life.

Do you get caught up in an internal battle between goals and excuses? Or perhaps a steady stream of assumptions that lead you to places you don’t want to be? How often do you feel the pull to behave in a certain way in order to achieve approval? Then do you challenge yourself with how hard to push back on those tendencies so as not to lose yourself completely?!

Overall it sounds to me like this constant pushing and pulling are between emotions like worthiness and self-image. Or between success and fear of failure. Between acceptance and authenticity.

Think for a moment about how much we edit our lives. We tweak stuff so that others see us as we want to be seen. In one way it’s like when I post a picture on Instagram or Facebook; that’s not just any picture. I’ll usually edit it in some way so that others are seeing the best possible version of me in that image. And I’m hopeful they will make the best possible assumptions! Maybe I’ll use a soft filter and enhance the color just so. It’s still me, right?

Let’s all look happy and fulfilled, right? This all seems harmless and I would even venture to say that it is human nature to want others’ perception of us to be positive. I mean look at what’s happening with these social media lifestyle influencers. The hair, the make-up, the fashion, if you don’t keep yourself in check, it’s very easy to get carried away and allow fashion and brand worshiping to effect your self-esteem.

Self-Deception Based on Perception…and the Lie

Now aside from looks and what we carefully choose to share online, don’t we also edit our lives so much lately? This is so much more than the digital aspect of social media posting. It’s pretty interesting how so many of us seem to be more committed to pretending life is “all that” than actually revealing our flaws. I don’t mean literally announcing to the world, hello world these are my flaws! But just allowing flaws, imperfections, and humanness to be seen. It’s just so easy to unknowingly sacrifice (or maybe we call it tweak) authenticity for a Like. So I’m thinking it’s not entirely a conscious choice we make to behave this way. And while it’s not always a conscious decision, the subconscious lies we believe about ourselves create our reality.

The lies we believe about ourselves are often derived by one common need. The need to feel worthy. While there’s so much happening around the real world and in our own lives, perceptions, thoughts, and behavior are nevertheless heavily influence by how we feel about ourselves and our self-esteem.

There’s research that agrees. Sounds like most of us are in denial about something at some point or another, so let’s agree we are in good company! Maybe we all already know self-deception is about self-worth deep down anyway. Canadian-American Philosopher, Patricia S. Churchland describes an example of self-deception as a drug … numbing you from harsh reality, or turning a blind eye to the tough matter of gathering evidence and thinking.”

Here’s the thing about self-deception though. Self-deception is what leads to the excuses and lies – unhappiness. In my opinion it is behind one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves and the belief system many live with everyday. And this lie is what gets in the way of being truly at peace. The lie is:

Ensuring that others see me the way I desire, as worthy, is more important than living an authentic life.

Overcoming Self-Deception and Stop Believing Self-Imposed Lies

Sure I’ve never uttered those exact words about the importance of feeling validated over living authentically. I’m not vocalizing in my head something like, “Do everything it takes to be certain others are impressed with me. The approval of (fill in the blank) will make me happy and complete.” This subconscious mindset is more like a belief system. It’s a compilation of subconscious declarations. And the lie we believe about ourselves are simply examples of the self-deceptive and self-sabotaging mindset many of us tirelessly navigate around everyday. So exhausting isn’t it?

Especially since the end-result, should you decide to believe the lies you tell yourself, will not help you to truly achieve happiness nor avoid failure. If you do, happiness or success will generally be short-lived if received externally anyway. You and I both know this. Yet the struggle is real.

To live a lie may allow us to avoid the truth,

but the real lie lays in believing that

we can avoid the truth in the first place.

Craig D. Lounsbrough

The lies we believe about ourselves are what lead to self-sabotaging behavior and never feeling good enough.

Perceptions of what and where we should be in life can lead us playing in a perpetual game of pretend without even realizing it. It’s so easy to get caught up in dress-up (at times literally) that we lose sight of our authentic selves. Sometimes the smallest alteration of who we really are can do us the most harm.

It’s time to recognize this type of negative self-talk which takes you away from living a productive life.


Scroll to the end for a compilation of famous Quotes About Lies and Self-Deception

Common Lies We Believe About Ourselves, 4 Reasons for this Self-Deception, and How to Overcome Self-Sabotage

We often deceive ourselves with negative thinking throughout daily life usually without the self-awareness to notice when it’s happening. While your inner dialogue is spewing things that you start to believe, we then tend to behave accordingly.

Listed below are 4 root causes of self-deception, why we lie to ourselves, and how to overcome and take back control over your mindset, attitude and behavior to make a positive change.

Self-Preservation: To prevent yourself from getting hurt.

Lies we tell ourselves

This will never work so don’t bother.

No risk, no pain.

I’ll save myself the embarrassment.

Overcoming the lie

If you want to grow and achieve success, you have to take risks. Ensure you are educating yourself on what you want to achieve and remind yourself that there are no consequences that can take away your dignity should you fail. Happiness and success are moving targets. Sometimes they come in abundance and sometimes we have to experience rocky times, accept things we don’t want, and even suffer through emotional or physical pain in order to bring things back in balance.

Inadequacy: Incapable of acheiving success or happiness.

Lies we tell ourselves

If only I had the skillset, money, time, contact, experience, energy, youth, emotional support (did I miss anything?) to pursue this.

I am nothing special.

Overcoming the lie

Just because you haven’t succeeded at a task does not equate to having failed. Those cliches about it being the journey that matters and happiness is having all you need not all you want hold a lot a weight. When you spend your time making excuses, you are not moving in any direction at all, especially forward. Usually feelings of inadequacy will lead you to stay put and not realize how fast life is passing you by. Complacency results in 100% of missed opportunities. Don’t have an unlived life. Find gratitude in what you do have and use that gratitude to fuel the emotional and physical energy you need for positive change.

Low Self-Esteem: Undeserving of success.

Lies we tell ourselves

Others deserve this more than me.

I shouldn’t treat myself when others are struggling.

I’m a loser and will never make anything of myself.

Overcoming the lie

If you continue to complain about life, people, circumstances then you are choosing that negative mindset as reality. So dig deep and identify when and why you’ve been putting yourself down. Finally, seek out the necessary ways to improve your situation.

First start with a decision to not listen to negative thoughts and begin appreciating the possibilities. Second, take action and focus on strategies to create positive change in you and around you. While self-deception is a catalyst for unhappiness and complacency, so can small positive actions be your catapult to avoid going through the motions and start proactively living your best life. So take a look at some of our other articles listed above. Own Your Best shares highly effective strategies to take control of your life.

Own Your Best articles you might find helpful

    Lack of Accountability: The truth hurts

    Lies we tell ourselves

    I don’t have time to work on this, exercise, eat healthy…

    How could _____ get that promotion over me? I deserve it more.

    My boss hates me, that’s why I’m stuck in this position.

    Overcoming the lie

    Self-awareness and conscious ownership are the most highly effective tools you can practice to determine how you got where you are and how you can get to where you want to be. The blame game will get you no where fast, unless you like living in Bitterville. Remember that only you are accountable for your ultimate success or failure. The universe is not against you. Every thought, action and inaction you make are your choices. If you find yourself blaming others for your unhappiness or lack of success, stop and decide how you are going to make a positive change. Take full responsibility for managing your life.

    Scroll to the end for famous Quotes About Lies and Self-Deception

    Final Thoughts on How to Be More Honest with Yourself

    The idea you shouldn’t engage in self-care or self-improvement for whatever reasons you tell yourself is a lie. Whether you have insecurity, low self-esteem or you want a fast track to success, we all need to look in the mirror and see ourselves with dignity. Practice self-awareness throughout the day, especially try to recognize when there is a conversation in your head that your true self is not participating in a positive way.

    Seek advice, admit your faults and celebrate your strengths. Also, know that perception is a self-funded illusion. Social media influencers, your neighbors, celebrities, your colleagues are not doing life better than you are. Chances are some are masters in self-deception in their own ways too. Lying to yourself does not justify behavior or improve your worth in any way.

    All this means is that life will not slow down for you to catch up on what you’ve missed. Therefore start living in it today so that you are growing through it tomorrow.

    Quotes About Lies and Self-Deception

    Reflect on these motivational quotes about lying to yourself and the self-deception that, while giving the illusion of validating a situation, always leads to unhappiness.

    Stop lying to yourself. When we deny our own truth, we deny our own potential.

    Steve Maraboli

    The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”

    Derek Landy

    Don’t be sorry for the truth. A harsh truth is less damaging than a tender lie, and the worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

    Dianna Hardy

    The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we’re afraid.We fear we will not find love, and when we find it we fear we’ll lose it. We fear that if we don’t have love we will be unhappy.

    Richard Bach

    If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule: Never Lie To Yourself.

    Paulo Coelho

    The instinct for self-deception in human beings makes them try to banish from their minds dangers of which at bottom they are perfectly aware by declaring them non-existent.

    Stefan Zweig

    I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”

    S.E. Hinton

    No satisfaction based upon self-deception is solid.

    Bertrand Russell

    Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”

    Rudyard Kipling

    You can fool yourself, you know. You’d think it’s impossible, but it turns out it’s the easiest thing of all.

    Jodi Picoult

    When we successfully deceive others, they are not aware of it; the same is true with self-deception.

    Mardy Grothe

    I often find that people confuse inner peace with some sense of insensibility whenever something goes wrong. In such cases inner peace is a permit for destruction: The unyielding optimist will pretend that the forest is not burning either because he is too lazy or too afraid to go and put the fire out.

    Criss Jami

    We all practice self-deception to a degree; no man can handle complete honesty without being cut at each turn. There’s not enough room in a man’s head for sanity alongside each grief, each worry, each terror that he owns. I’m well used to burying such things in a dark cellar and moving on.

    Mark Lawrence


    1. Really great topic. It’s true how people tell themselves lies all the time and some of those lies are positive and probably most are negative, but either way, it’s a common thing we all need to be aware of.

    2. Hi! I want to just say that this article and the subject is awesome. It’s important to recognize and talk about what we do to ourselves – the power we have for good and bad. All the emotional damage that we can self-inflict is often subconscious.

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