Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Harm of Delusions

If there’s one thing that I’ve prided myself on, it’s being realistic and honest with myself.  There have been times in my life (like after moving to CT) where I have attempted the old trick of telling oneself something over and over to try to make oneself believe in something, but it has never worked for me.  I’m too brutally honest with myself to trick myself into such silly things.

The point of this post is partly to give myself a pat on the back for a trait I think is rare and difficult to obtain (it’s far easier to lie and pretend life is easy or full of rainbows and gumdrops), and partly to make any possible readers think about how they walk through life.

Much like my posts about the responsibility of one’s own mental health and how failing to take care of yourself by bottling up emotions or problems for one reason or another can harm those around you, it’s the same thing as walking through life pretending nothing is wrong, or worse yet, acting or verbalizing that you are somehow on a level above your peers when it comes to dealing with the rough waves that life sometimes deals out. 

There are harmless lies people tell themselves (and unfortunately others) like what size dress they wear/how much they weigh or materialistic things, such as how much money they make or are projected to make or how much they spent on certain items (telling the original price tag vs. what was actually paid), etc.   The problem with telling these “harmless lies” is that for one, it’s disrespectful to the people you’re lying to (aside from yourself).  You don’t lie unless you believe you can get away with it and you don’t ever think you can get away with a lie unless you think you are smarter than whomever you’re telling the lie to (aka, you think your peers are dumb). 

Secondly, people who aren’t gullible or who do have a good grip on reality will see the lies for what they are and resentment will grow.

Unless someone is truly socially unaware, people who are exceptionally good at something usually don’t feel the need to broadcast it, and this is especially true between friends or in professional atmospheres.

There is a definite line between being positive and optimistic and being falsely arrogant or bragging about a life you don’t live, or traits you simply do not have.

This all goes along the lines of telling people “you couldn’t possibly know how this feels” or “you don’t have any idea how hard my life is”.  It’s a slap in the face to those around you, as you most certainly do not know how difficult your peers’ lives are, and you could never know what someone may be going through at the time.  As my good friend had to remind me recently, “Rach—you know very well that everyone has their own issues” when told about someone I see as “having it all,” feeling as bad as I had been. 

It’s easy to forget that we do all have our own problems.  Not everyone broadcasts their lives over the internet.  Not everyone is dumber than you.  Not everyone is so easily manipulated.

So, as my homework to anyone reading:  Do yourself and those around you a favor.  In the book, “The Four Agreements,” there’s a great chapter called “Be Impeccable With Your Word.”  Basically, it boils down to “Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”  (This site points out the important pieces...)

It’s not an easy one.  Like I said about being honest with just yourself--  it’s tough and something I have to constantly work at (and don’t have it completely down at all), but so is being honest with those around you.  Even the littlest lies can defeat you.  They can make a village turn their back on you.  I find these little lies so often that I felt compelled to write a whole entry about it…

Hopefully it’s thought provoking at the least.  I know it’s not the most positive of my entries, but it’s certainly been written in hopes to help build towards a more positive environment for myself, and in general.

I just feel like the truth, even when it's incredibly hard to swallow and terrifying, it is so much more important to eventually find your way to leading a healthy and happy life...



  1. "This all goes along the lines of telling people 'you couldn’t possibly know how this feels' or 'you don’t have any idea how hard my life is'. It’s a slap in the face to those around you, as you most certainly do not know how difficult your peers’ lives are, and you could never know what someone may be going through at the time."

    Likewise, I think it's shitty to pretend you understand other people's problems when you actually, literally do not have any idea what it's like to go through x, y, or z. As far as I'm concerned, being told "it could be worse" has never made any problems go away. I'd say it's a much bigger slap in the face to be told by an outsider that your problems just aren't that bad.

  2. Agreed. You know, every time someone has said to me "it could be worse" or try to make my problems seem smaller than they feel to me at that time, it's like a knife to the chest. It's just not very sympathetic. At the same time, once I actually do put my problems into perspective (like past bad experiences I'VE had, not like "well, I could have AIDS and be pregnant"), I usually do feel some sort of relief.

    But you're right. It's a slap in the face, especially coming from a stranger... Though, at least with a stranger, you can say, "well, that asshole doesn't know me or anything for that matter"... it might hurt worse when it's a "friend" minimizing your problems... Regardless, it blows.

    I try to be conscious of this. We all think we have it worse than others at times, so it can be tough. None of it's easy... but as long as more people try to be conscious of these moments, things could be better. Too bad not many people try to take note of how they treat others or themselves, for that matter.