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. And having no respect he ceases to love.
It is a self-deception of philosophers and moralists to imagine that they escape decadence by opposing it. That is beyond their will; and, however little they acknowledge it, one later discovers that they were among the most powerful promoters of decadence.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
What further helps to reveal reality is when our personal thinking ceases to take reality for granted.
People hide truths about themselves from themselves. Such self-deception is a coping mechanism, and to one extent or another, most people begin deceiving themselves when they're children.
It was strange to Old Robert that he, who knew so much more than his neighbors, who had pondered so endlessly, should be not even a good farmer. Sometimes he imagined he understood too many things ever to do anything well.
Did I know myself less, I might perhaps venture to handle something or other to the bottom, and to be deceived in my own inability; but sprinkling here one word and there another, patterns cut from severalpieces and scattered without design and without engaging myself too far, I am not responsible for them, or obliged to keep close to my subject, without varying at my own liberty and pleasure, and giving up myself to doubt and uncertainty, and to myown governing method, ignorance.
So the paradox goes: No man who is really ignorant is ever aware that he is ignorant. That is its finest, most faulty manifestation; there can be no true ignorance without first some claim of intelligence or consciousness, or superiority or enlightenment.
The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency -- the belief that the here and now is all there is.
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.
Thus, you see, he arrived at the same end, via supposed duty, that he was previously pledged to via interest. I fancy a good number of us, when any line of action will promote our own interest, can make ourselves believe that reasons exist which compel us to it as a duty.
For twenty-five years I've been speaking and writing in defense of your right to happiness in this world, condemning your inability to take what is your due, to secure what you won in bloody battles on the barricades of Paris and Vienna, in the American Civil War, in the Russian Revolution. Your Paris ended with Petain and Laval, your Vienna with Hitler, your Russia with Stalin, and your America may well end in the rule of the Ku Klux Klan! You've been more successful in winning your freedom than in securing it for yourself and others. This I knew long ago. What I did not understand was why time and again, after fighting your way out of a swamp, you sank into a worse one. Then groping and cautiously looking about me, I gradually found out what has enslaved you: YOUR SLAVE DRIVER IS YOU YOURSELF. No one is to blame for your slavery but you yourself. No one else, I say!
Human nature is full of riddles and contradictions; its very complexity engenders art—and by art I mean the search for something more than simple linear formulations, flat solutions, oversimplified explanations. One of these riddles is: how is it that people who have been crushed by the sheer weight of slavery and cast to the bottom of the pit can nevertheless find strength to rise up and free themselves, first in spirit and then in body; while those who soar unhampered over the peaks of freedom suddenly appear to lose the taste for freedom, lose the will to defend it, and, hopelessly confused and lost, almost begin to crave slavery. Or again: why is it that societies which have been benumbed for half a century by lies they have been forced to swallow find within themselves a certain lucidity of heart and soul which enables them to see things in their true perspective and to perceive the real meaning of events; whereas societies with access to every kind of information suddenly plunge into lethargy, into a kind of mass blindness, a kind of voluntary self deception.
I have never seen battles quite as terrifyingly beautiful as the ones I fight when my mind splinters and races, to swallow me into my own madness, again.
There is no deception on the part of the woman, where a man bewilders himself: if he deludes his own wits, I can certainly acquit the women. Whatever man allows his mind to dwell upon the imprint his imagination has foolishly taken of women, is fanning the flames within himself -- and, since the woman knows nothing about it, she is not to blame. For if a man incites himself to drown, and will not restrain himself, it is not the water's fault.
Time and time over it is the ones who try a little too hard to be innovative rebels - and for the sheer glory of being considered innovative rebels - who then turn out not quite as innovative or as rebellious as they would like to think they are.
People are always talking about it being their duty to find their way to their fellow men — to their neighbour, as they are forever saying with all the baseness of false sentiment — when in fact it is purely and simply a question of finding their way to themselves. Let each first find his way to himself! And since hardly anyone has yet found his way to himself, it is inconceivable that any of these unfortunate millions has ever found his way to another human being — or to his neighbour, as they say, dripping with self-deception.
The instinct of self-deception in human beings makes them try to banish from their minds dangers of which at the bottom they are perfectly aware by declaring them nonexistent, and a warning such as mine against cheap optimism was bound to prove particularly unwelcome at a moment when a sumptuously laid supper was awaiting for us in the next room.
People go on marrying because they can't resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month's pleasure with a life's discomfort.
One major cost of self-deception is that we use painful life experiences to justify being non-ideal versions of ourselves.
Sometimes, we expect life to work a certain way and when it doesn’t we blame others or see it as a sign, rather than face the pain of the choices we should or shouldn’t have made. Real healing won’t begin until we stop saying, “God prevented this or that.” Often in our attempt to protect ourselves from pain, we leave things to fate and don’t take chances. Or, we don’t work hard enough to keep the blessings we are given. Maybe, we didn't recognize a blessing, until it was too late. Often, it is the lies we tell ourselves that keeps us stuck in a delusion of not being responsible for our lives. We leave it all up to God. The truth is we are not leaves blowing toward our destiny without any control. To believe this is to take away our freedom of choice and that of others. The final stage of grief is acceptance. This can’t be reached through always believing God willed the outcomes in our lives, despite our inaction or actions. To think so is to take the easy escape from our accountability. Sometimes, God has nothing to do with it. Sometimes, we just screwed up and guarded our heart from accepting it, by putting our outcome on God as the reason it turned out the way it did. Faith is a beautiful thing, but without work we can give into a mysticism of destiny that really doesn't teach us lessons or consequences for our actions. Life then becomes a distorted delusion of no accountability with God always to blame for battles we walked away from, won or loss.
Language is something you inherit, it's never just you doing the talking, which helps when you're pretending.
Fantasy and drama appeal to us. They are socially acceptable and make you feel good about yourself. Moreover, you get rewarded for being cleverly ignorant.
My message to you is this: pretend that you have free will. It's essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know they don't. The reality isn't important: what's important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.