Delusion, Friends, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty

On the Art of Deluding Ourselves

(About a 5 minute read)

RepostSome long time ago, I married my first wife mainly for her looks.  However, I didn’t allow myself to think I was marrying her for her looks.  Instead, I talked myself into the conviction I was marrying her out of love for her.

As near as I can figure out, I told myself I was marrying her for love because I didn’t want to face the reality I was shallow enough to marry someone mainly for her looks.  Facing that reality would have required me to change how I thought of myself.  And rather than do that — change how I thought of myself — I changed my life.

Now, I would like to say the experience taught me a lesson, and I would never again make the same mistake.

Unfortunately, I am 52 years old — which is old enough to know I have at times in life repeated a mistake, even a grievous one.  There is no absolute guarantee, then, I would not do the same thing again.

It is not always easy to be mindful of how foolish one can be.  But to think we cannot be fools is — in my experience at least — simply a delusion.

Of course, to be deluded is one of the few things in life nearly everyone can excel at, no matter how little talent they have for anything else.  It seems delusions are not only easy to achieve, but that they are all but mandatory for our clever species of chimpanzee.  In fact, I don’t think one needs to be a cynic to acknowledge that we as a species are typically delusional through-out our lives and to one extent or another.

Thus, I am not optimistic I can live my life free of delusions.  I do believe, however, that I — or anyone else — can do somethings to improve the situation, and I’d like to talk about two of those things here.

The first thing we might do to improve the situation rests on the simple observation that everyone else’s delusions are typically more transparent to us than our own.  For instance:  It is quite easy for me to see how poorly reasoned are the various arguments against the Theory of Evolution because I myself don’t share in the delusion the Theory is false.  But it is far and away more difficult for me to see how dangerous to political freedom and civil liberties in this country are some of the policies adopted by President Obama because I strongly wish to believe he will set right all that has been set wrong in the past.  Of course, in this case I’m doing well to suspect I’m deluded about President Obama — for the most part, I have no inkling at all of my delusions.  Yet, my delusions might be quite transparent to someone else.

Since everyone else’s delusions are typically more transparent to us than our own, it follows that other people might help us get a handle on our own delusions.  The operative word there is “might”.  It is not always true they can or will.

Let’s turn now to another thing we can do to help us deal with the challenge of being a species prone to delusions.  Like the first thing I mentioned, this second thing also rests on a simple observation:  That is, we are very much inclined to delude ourselves whenever we fail to accept ourselves as we are.  Thus, to lessen our chances of self-delusion, it is ideal to as much as possible accept ourselves just as we are, without judgment — i.e. without condemnation or praise.

Perhaps it is intuitive that self-condemnation represents a rejection of ourselves — rather than an acceptance — but how does self-praise interfere with our accepting ourselves as we are?  I know from experience that self-praise does in fact interfere with accepting ourselves, but I have only a theory as to how it does that.  Praise, of course, is a form of judgment, and judgments are comparative.  When you judge something, you are comparing it to something.  So when we praise ourselves we are, on some level, comparing ourselves to something else and in effect saying that other thing is the more valuable.  I don’t know whether or not that’s really how it works — I only know from observation that self-praise is not self-acceptance.

After pointing out a couple minor ways in which we might manage our delusions, it might be worthwhile to briefly mention that societies can be seen as vast conspiracies to prop up various delusions.  I’m only half-joking here.  Of course it is easier to see how a society might be thought of as a bunch of people engaged in a conspiracy to delude themselves when you are looking at someone else’s society besides your own.  And it is easier to see how your own society might be thought of that way when you are not busy judging it.   My purpose, though, in half-jokingly calling societies “vast conspiracies” is to point out that our species is not only prone to delusions, but that most of us are now and then engaged in helping each other maintain our delusions.  At least some of our delusions.

Just consider for a moment the tremendous money, talent and energy that is each day put into perpetuating the Western myth that for each person in this world there is one — and only one — other person who is a perfect mate, a soul mate.  So far as I can see, that notion is delusional.  Yet, it’s among the most popular notions of our time and the resources spent on perpetuating it are nearly astronomical.

Now, against that backdrop, consider some of the challenges we face in trying to manage our delusions.  I have pointed out two minor ways that might help manage them, but even if someone were to assiduously practice both of those ways, they would still be swimming in a social sea of delusions.  So far as I can see, societies have always been, and always will be, something akin to vast conspiracies to prop up various delusions.  Perhaps it is impossible, then, for an individual to live a relatively realistic life without to some extent being alienated from his or her society.

Human nature is prone to delusion.  It seems almost all of us excel in the art of deluding ourselves. Perhaps most of our delusions are comparatively harmless.  Now and then, though, some delusions might lead us to make unwise choices.  It is probably for the best then that we are mindful of our capacity to be deluded and do what we can to be realistic.

17 thoughts on “On the Art of Deluding Ourselves”

  1. I really like this — it’s so true. Even when it comes to diet… I fell out with a friend who steadfastly believed in what she was told when growing up, and when I was trying to discuss these subjects, she would flatly tell me I was wrong. There’s nothing wrong with someone disagreeing and exchanging ideas… it’s being shot down without a second thought that I don’t like.


  2. SMiLes.. Modern Neuro-Science suggests we Hallucinate our Reality.. Great this is for those
    Who see life as always an Art Project For theirs to move.. connect and co-create
    With a Form
    Essence of
    Relative Free
    Will they Hallucinate
    But not so Great for
    Anyone under the
    Delusion that
    At core
    For us is
    Anything like
    Concrete Systemizing
    Science as those who
    Embrace Change
    As the
    Art we are
    We Co-create
    SMiLes i never
    stARTed LiVinG
    More fully until
    Becoming more
    Of a DancE
    Ever changing
    As Pleasure or
    Pain and all the Colors
    And Flavors of all the
    Feelings and Senses
    To Play in an
    Ever Changing
    Painting of
    A Vincent Van
    Gogh Show
    As Mastery
    Colors more..
    The Mastery
    Is the Mystery
    And the Real
    MaGiC As FRuiTioN NoW
    Of course that Might
    Only Makes
    Now more
    For those
    Fear for Now
    As in all
    Things Life
    A Spectrum
    Of DArk through LiGHT..:)


      1. Smiles, Paul; For the sake of reciprocal social communication that is concrete, I’ll do my best to use “Linear Logic”, although, it makes me feel less alive within, never more, Working for the Federal Government and retiring from that making technical lists and the such as that; I will surely revert back to what made me feel much more dead inside on a flip of a Cent too, for we Humans also do well in bringing back to life what we do for a Quarter of a Century and more, too.

        I’m enjoying your blog and one key, I would potentially fit in is that you use a metaphor for Nude Blogging Mondays, not unlike Casual Friday Dress at Work too. And Perhaps one difference between me and you other than three years of age at 58 and 61 is ‘according to Science’, I Literally Nude Blog and Write Erotic Poetry and I’ve been Public Dancing now for 9666 Miles in 59 Months along with Writing 6 Million Words of Free Verse Poetry still Leg Pressing 1020 LBS at 52 Reps on a Very Difficult Free Weight Parallel Leg Press
        Machine at Several Hundred Pounds more than Elite Marines, Three to Four
        Decades my Junior as let’s not forget that Science Says we reach our peak
        in Physical Strength in our Thirties and it goes steadily down across the
        Decades as I am Drifting away from the Edge of the Linear Lines
        of the Page now moving Naturally back into a Golden Mean
        Spiral Ratio of 1.618 in the Breaths of my Language
        and moving back into Free Verse Poetic Speak
        that is Naturally A Dance and Song
        of Communication
        that and
        Dances and Sings as me rather
        than Just Writing and Listing Facts
        And other Numbers. Smiles but at this Point at Least I am still using ‘normal’
        Punctuation; yet Freely Capitalizing Words for small emphasis and ‘affect’ that the Queen Victorian Style of Language states is outside of the Book or Box. Now, those Efforts above that are empirically Measured and Documented in extreme Detail as far as technical lists go are just a few ways that I for one Create a much Different Empirical Based
        Reality that anyone would have expected for an Autistic Child who
        did not develop the Ability for Oral Speak until 4 years old.
        And with that condition, Specifically, Asperger’s Syndrome,
        comes difficulty in Motor Coordination including
        Fine Motor Coordination as my Hand Writing, hehe,
        is even worse than Doctor’s with Greater Than Average Systemizing
        Skills and often Poor Bed-Side Manners as they don’t always hit a Gold
        Standard when it comes to Empirical Measures of Empathy as some research
        shows that up to 10 to 15 Percent of the Population is on a Broader Autism Phenotype
        of those who are rather stuck in the Left Brain Metaphor of precisely that Systemizing
        Science Linear Thinking as such where one will not find much emotive Language
        even in what they write, too. In fact, as far as Doctor’s go never in a Prescription
        for a Treatment Plan for Asperger’s Syndrome and Bi-Polar Disorder where
        about as close as Emotive Language on an Actual Prescription from a
        Psychiatrist gets is Dance; yes, Dance, And yes Free Style Flowing
        Dance to Regulate Emotions and Integrate Senses that are truly
        the core issues of imbalance in Bi-Polar Disorder, and Asperger’s
        Syndrome as well as ADHD as I got tagged with that Label too and not
        before for any of those Three Disorders, in my 40’s and 50’s as specifically
        for all the Doctor said to my Mother is your two children are Hyperactive and He will talk when he gets ready too as it’s obvious by the look in his eyes that he is bright; hmm,
        Priceless; a Doctor with intuition out of ‘the Medical Books’ as such. Yes, My Sister is
        also Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in her 40’s; but she got a pass on the Bi-Polar.
        And I only got a Diagnosis at the First of 19 other Medical Disorders, mostly Stress related
        from fight or flight Stress at the End of my Federal Service Career when folks started
        doing the work of 10 People or so, with downsizing and the automation of the human
        being as slave to machines rather than Supervising People as by that time I was a
        Financial Manager in effect and an Athletic Director off a Division of a Military Station
        and also of note, the Last Kid Picked on Sports Teams in School as that
        Goes Hand in Hand with the Motor-Coordination Difficulties of Asperger’s
        Syndrome too. True, when the Psychiatrist first met me, he immediately
        ‘Spotted the Aspie’; and eventually as a Combat Fatigue Specialist
        with the Air Force assessed me as his worst case of Severe Anxiety
        and Depression, although the Type Two Trigeminal Neuralgia didn’t help
        assessed as the Worst Pain known to Human Kind that in my case was
        like a Dentist Drill in my right eye and ear with no Novocaine, was a Pain
        that no Human Made Drug would touch. True, Sjogren’s Syndrome
        will stop all flow of Tears for a Desert of eyes too and Dysautonomia
        will make it very difficult to sleep at all; just one hour with an Alpha Blocker
        of very Card Board Shallow Sleep for the first 35 out of 40 days, and no sleep
        at all the last 5 of 40, where at the Start of Getting used to ‘the devil’ in my right
        eye and ear there is good enough reason they call that Pain the Suicide Disease
        as Dousing myself with Gasoline from Head to toe, would have been Preferable
        at close to the first of that stint with almost no sleep; where i ‘went to a place’ where
        briefly the Pain went away as well as all my other Senses of Feeling Life as a Piece
        of Paper existence became me where all was the Perception of Time and every
        Second was an experience of a Thousand Years in what verily
        is the Essence of Human Hell within; voila, Hell is real on Earth
        now was the Empirical conclusion I came to then. The thing is my
        Friend; Real Heaven is on Earth too within and as Yogi’s under Scientific
        Study also do; yes, they Master a Regulation of Emotions and Integration
        of Senses and some Autonomic Functions like Body Temperature, Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Brain Wave Activity through the Bio-Feed Back of Meditation and they develop
        incredible Cognitive Executive Functioning with Laser Focus and Amazing Short
        Term Working Memory the same as I achieve as both a Psychotherapist
        and Psychiatrist do agree supported by the Science of a Naked Literal
        Dance of Life now that not only requires no pills but literally not even
        a stitch of Human Made clothing for it is true Moving Meditation is so
        much better than still meditation as a Free Style Dance is assessed in
        Science to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by 70 Percent
        and even still meditation is studied to increase the Gray Matter by rebuilding
        or Keeping one’s Brain young, except for the Fear Center of the Amygdala
        where Grey Matter is actually reduced with a much greater potential for an
        Anxiety Free Life. Smiles, my friend, I don’t need a Science Degree, even though
        I do have a BS in Health Science; and a BA in Anthropology; and a BA in Social
        Sciences Interdisciplinary for the common sense/feel that stress and even too much
        Positive stress in terms of instant gratification and in general, fear kills every thing
        good in life for with enough dance, and as far as fears go enough Public Dance
        with clothes soon to milestone 10K miles in 5 Years and yes with Naked Dance
        too in appropriate avenues for that as that will lead to a fearless state of
        Human Nature too unless one is a Stripper with Addictions to Alcohol
        and other Drugs to Numb Anxiety or feel anything at all for it’s true
        a condition of losing nuanced emotions and almost all emotions
        together as emotions are memories and memories are emotions
        as Science Suggests now too, is the otherwise glue of all our cognitive
        executive functioning and yes real happiness that one can and will actually
        feel and sense as an emotional and sensory experience of life always now too
        as a Kingdom of Heaven empirically assessed in Yogis, too. But again, I didn’t
        have to go to Yogi School then to either go to Heaven within now as both my
        Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist after still seeing me in the 5 years of Heaven
        do agree that i have done practically what once was thought as impossible to do
        and cured the Negative Symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome,
        and ADHD with just a Free Style Dance of Life; and true a practice of Life overall
        in Dance and Song that is a Never Ending ‘Nether Land’ Literal Story now as
        that is just one 3 Million plus word Bible Chapter of what I name as the
        “SonG oF mY SoUL” Ocean whole Longest Long Form Epic style
        effort in the History and or Herstory of Humankind too now with
        166K photos i took to fully iLLustrate it and over 10K YouTube
        Videos as i Love to set the Narration of my
        Life to not only Dance but Song too.
        Smiles, my Friend, I’ve been in debates on
        Websites with folks who say their Average IQ
        is between 140 to 160 and i’m sure mine is high
        enough graduating with those 3 Degrees at the top
        part of the Class too; but the thing is what i’ve learned
        most in life is there is a Rationality of Words and there is
        a Rationality of Feelings and Senses that will come to be our
        Reality as Dance and Song with enough Practice now as the
        ‘Professional Yogis’ also Do simply in an Animal Homeostasis
        when Subsistence and Mate Finding Duties are done for the Day.
        My Wife takes care of all the Work and I just Dance and Sing Retired
        with new Rubber on my Wheels and it’s true my Friend i read 10 to 15
        times faster than the average Human Being and in doing so I have greatly
        enjoyed all your posts as your greatest strength that I for one Currently see
        is you Lend an ear to all opinions that are respectful that and who come your way.
        For it is true those who do that are much more likely to fulfill the Art in Smart and more
        fully do a Dance and Song of Life. We Do Relative Free Will in what truly counts
        in life; namely the Love of Life in Moving Connecting and Co-Creating which
        obviously includes a basic requirement for the Bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid
        for Food for Drink for Shelter for Friends and yes Lover(s) too along
        with Safety and Security too but as Maslow’s Pyramid rises to
        Self-Actualization as we integrate ego now with deeper self
        as Our True Wills that we come to co-create rise up thru
        down as my Greatest Achievement is a Smile NoW
        my Friend; no, not 6 Million Words;
        no, not 166K photos; no, not all that
        Nude art; or Erotic Free Verse Poetry
        or a Foundation of Leg strength that
        just helps with what really counts
        in the end and beginning now
        of bringing a smile to another
        Human Face through 365
        Days in an Art of Dance at 2000 Miles
        a year as that comes and goes too; but yes
        the day I Danced in Walmart and the Customer
        Service Representative said I bring Spring to Walmart
        in the Dead of Winter that in Metaphor truly does represent
        what one ‘normally’ feels and senses from most others in ‘that
        place’ year round. And true after Dancing with all the Cool College
        Age Folks for the 222nd Dance Week Last Night and doing over 2000 Smiling
        Selfie Captured Faces with Beautiful Young Women in the throes of just a Joy
        of Dance my Friend; just a dance of life that spells I love life ear to ear for that one
        moment in life at least. I had a Child named Ryan who only suffered with Congenital
        Anomalies his entire 51 day life without a first or last smile. When My
        Memory of a Smile in those 66 Months was gone in real hell as shut-in
        in my Home; I found out all that really counts in life is
        Love; yes, all those Platitudes about Love were
        real but only
        Love is
        Real my Friend
        and brings a smile
        to another Human Being
        who is really Human in what
        it even means to be us; people
        who smile at each other with just the Freedom of Love.
        Yes, it helps that I am Financially Independent but Maslow
        and anyone else with common sense already understands
        that the task master of a dollar bill is an ugly God that rarely smiles my Friend.
        Perhaps, it is still the Autism Speaking but Love is Literally God to me and when
        one becomes totally Separated from the actual feelings and senses of a smile
        to understand
        for those who do live now;
        Everything in life is relative
        and a spectrum my friend but smiles are real when they love.
        That’s really all I don’t need to know. Other than that I mostly
        Read or Write on my own Long Form Poem Bible as it’s not appropriate
        to Regularly Write Much Longer Blog Posts on other folks Blogs as that naturally
        Happens when one writes 6 Million Words in 5 years
        as this is
        just a
        drop in
        my Ocean Poem
        Whole but don’t worry
        i will not do this to you again.
        I’ll try to limit myself with just
        one finger on a Smart Phone
        as i otherwise potentially do take the rest of the Oxygen out of Folks’s Blogs.
        More than anything, I do appreciate what you are giving and sharing here free
        as it mostly confirms what I already understand about the Science of Life and
        with all stuff life i learn something new every now I live with an open Spirit
        of Heart and a Mind and Body Soul in Balance that as Empirically Measured
        And Documented in my 6 Million Word Bible Poem is literally and metaphorically Love.


  3. Some might say that religion is delusional. Some might say that Trump is delusional. Some might say that “Comments make my day” is delusional. You might say that I am delusional….well, let’s not get carried away.

    Very interesting post, by the way (unless I’m delusional).


    1. I was thinking about ignoring your post to see if I could unnerve you into believing your memory of posting it was delusional. But then I broke down and responded anyway. I’m such a wus. 😀


  4. There was once a young man who thought he was in love with two young women. One was exceptionally beautiful but essentially void of any thing that required intelligence or more than superficial thinking. The second one was an intellectual and musically talented soprano with a unique beautiful melodious voice but remarkably unattractive. After much emotional and intellectual consideration he choose the second one, thinking that the brain was more important in the long run.
    Waking up after the first night of the honeymoon, the young man rolled over in bed, took a quick glance at his new bride and said, “For Christ’s sake, sing something.”


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