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Moving Beyond Self-Deception

I’ve had some pretty profound revelations lately, which have been surprising, but what’s also surprising is the timing of all of them. Just as I’m working through ideas of how I perceive myself and those around me in my personal life, I got a book in the mail from my work for a leadership training that I was supposed to attend. The book, titled “Leadership and Self-Deception”, also focuses on this idea as well. It was a coincidence that I’ve thankfully embraced.

I was raised to take responsibility for my own actions, not to blame others for my problems, and to realize that I could only change myself, not other people. But even growing up with this, I all-too-easily slip into the role of blaming: “I’m doing the best I can so it’s their problem”, or “I only acted like that because of what she said”, or “I’m doing so much someone else needs to take care of that.” I think we all say similar things to ourselves, but for me, it’s been especially easy.

I have three young kids and some things going on at home that would make it very easy for me to “get off the hook”. The group I work for just laid off 60% of the staff so things are stressful and uncertain at work. I have a whole list of things to justify my negative feelings, my behavior, and my actions; things that are beyond myself. What I’ve learned lately though, especially reading this book, is that that kind of thinking is an infinite loop of negativity that not only damages our productivity, ourselves, and our relationships, but also pushes those around us to engage in this destructive loop as well.

So I’ve been working on it and it’s not easy. I’ve built these walls of self-deception and justification to “protect” myself, but ironically, it only makes my life shittier and more difficult. And when my life becomes more difficult, it becomes easier for me to keep blaming. See where this is going? I’ve had to look at where I’ve come up short and start evaluating all the ways I’ve been betraying myself and those around me, and let me tell you, it’s pretty ugly. But it seems the only way to break out of it is to be willing to see where I have only been thinking of myself, where I’ve blamed others for my actions, and when I haven’t considered those around me as truly equal to myself.

That’s been an important step for me so far: really seeing the needs, wants, and desires of those around me as equal to my own. The hardest one to admit is the fact that there have been times when I haven’t really considered my kids’ needs on the same level as mine: I have work to do, I have to clean this up, or I have to get this thing done first. What is that teaching them? I know it’s a balance of making sure everyone’s needs get met, but I have honestly not been doing the best I can in seeing all people as equal to myself, even my own kids

It seems so simple in one way but as I’ve been working through it, it’s far from easy and it’s going to be a daily struggle. These are life-long habits, but seeing myself and others as we truly are seems like it’s going to not only make my life easier, but will ultimately minimize the damage I do to myself, to those around me, and to our relationships. I am hopeful. I’m going to work my ass off, but I am hopeful.

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