Success & Prosperity Blog

Lying to Yourself

By Randy Gage in Success, Prosperity.

“I quit smoking,” my first baseman said, knowing I would be impressed.

“Wow,” I replied.  “That’s great news Robert.  How did you do it?”

He lifted up his sleeve to show me he was wearing a nicotine patch on his arm.  I was kind of surprised, because I don’t know many people who have ever quit with a system like that.  Smoking, like most physical addictions, strikes me as more of a mental addiction when it is all said and done.

But of course, I think virtually everything is mental… 

That’s my perception.  That perception is based on my belief system, which was created by my own experience.  In this case, my experience of quitting a three pack a day cigarette addiction cold turkey, the day I made up my mind that I no longer wanted to be a smoker.

I never picked up a cigarette again.  For five years.  Then one night I was sitting around with the drivers in my pizza place talking about it.  Most of them were smokers.  I said that I had quit, and I could start and quit any time, because now I knew how to deal with it.  As I continued talking, I started to believe myself…

So naturally I decided I could have a cigarette right there to prove my case.  Which I did.

The next day, I talked more about my theory, demonstrating it by showing them I could just have one cigarette that day.

The following day I proved my point further, showing that I only smoked if I felt like it, with only ten cigarettes that day.  Of course, you’ve already figured out that the next day I was back to three packs a day.   So then my perception changed.

I went from believing I could start or quit any time I wanted, to believing that smoking was a physical addiction, and I was an innocent victim of the evil, greedy tobacco companies.   (Because that took all of the responsibility off of me.)

Ah, the power of perception…

Meanwhile the talk around the table stayed on Robert having quit smoking, and other people’s experience quitting or not.  Along the way, I related my story above.  Eventually it got around to Robert again.  And he was talking about his situation and said something about the reason he was quitting.

“Whoa!” I almost shouted.  The “ing” in his last statement had grabbed me.  “You quit, or you’re quitting?” I wanted to know.

“I quit,” he said very defensively.  “I’m down to only half a pack a day.  I used to smoke a pack.”

Ah, the power of perception…

And the power of denial.  Perception by itself can be one of our most powerful tools for a better life.  Perception clouded by denial can be one of the most harmful, because then we’re lying to ourselves.

Robert used the power of perception to convince himself that going from a pack a day to half a pack meant he had quit.  Which of course it doesn’t.   Which explains why he ended up back to his usual pack a day.

What about you?  Do you tell yourself the truth, or are you in denial?


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5 thoughts on “Lying to Yourself

  1. Krzysztof Obarski says:

    A friend of mine believes that drinking 2 drinks of 18% alcoholic beverage is not a problem while drinking one based on 40% hard alcohol is. Go figure.

    1. Radu Asultanei says:

      Probably he thinks that 2×18%=36%.
      And 36% is lower than 40% and therefore he don’t have a drinking problem.

  2. Funny how that is, changing habits sometimes takes more than 21 days.

  3. Ulli says:

    Having had to admit that I was powerless over my eating addiction I started going to Overeater Anonymous decades ago. It was not until then that I finally could quit the overeating. It took a power greater than myself though. On my own I did not get there as much as I tried with diets and hypnosis, etc, etc.That was my perception….it worked for a little while but never lasted. Nothing lasted. I have been eating abstinently for decades now and am very grateful

  4. I am a creative self-deceiver. My bullshit convinces me until the pain it makes me feel drives me to create a new empowering narrative. Like you, I believe it’s all in our heads. That’s a good thing because it supports the perception that we have enormous personal power. I deal with my self deception by allowing myself to acknowledge it and forgiving myself quickly for my human flaws. That helps be to grow and move forward.


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