Last Friday at a dinner party chez Catherine and Hugues, Ron, a seasoned business man and a neighbour told us a story, which had its underpinnings in these six points from the book: LEADERSHIP AND SELF-DECEPTION from “THE ARBINGER INSTITUTE”

1) An act contrary to a feeling of what I should do for another person is called an act of self-betrayal
2) When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal
3) When I see a justifying world, my view of reality is distorted
4) When I betray myself I enter the box
5) In time, certain boxes become characteristic of me
6) When I am in the box I encourage others to get into the box

Ron put this in to the context of a simple life situation. Husband and wife and a baby crying at night. Husband wakes up. He has two choices, either he goes and pacifies the baby or he does not, potentially waking up his wife or his wife wakes up as the baby keeps on crying.

He feels probably along the lines of “My wife is asleep and needs it, it is good for all if I go and deal with this, I feel good about dealing with it.” If he chooses the first alternative he has done the simple thing and goes back to bed. If he chooses the second alternative he may feel along the lines of “I really should’ve gone and done it, not feeling very good about myself, I know my wife needs the sleep and the baby didn’t need feeding anyway.”

This is the act of self-betrayal, going against the feeling the husband had about what would be the better way to behave. So now he is feeling lousy and thinks about ways to justify the behaviour: “I was so tired myself after a long day at work”, “I wake up so much easier than my wife to any noise so it is always me getting up, why should that be.” Shifting from justifying this one action and moving to a distorted reality: “I do so much more in the household all the time”, me me me me me.

Now the husband has entered into a box that could be called “I always do everything around the house and at work”.

The husband has defined a characteristic for himself which would be called martyr.

This will now emanate in his person and will invite others to behave accordingly, in the same box or reinforcing that distortion.

..and yes we all do it. It is ok to feel lazy, to not always do the expected thing, but what gets in the way in life is the self-deception, which gets buried deep in our psyche. If we have developed layers of this type of self-deception life becomes very complicated within and without self. These six points work at many levels large and small and can take humanity, interactions and relationships in very strange directions often for no good reason what so ever. Why consensual self-deception? As we all do it, firmly believing our own deception, us not understanding how this works, others not agreeing with the veiled justifications and ‘characteristics’ and yet all having to live with them. Merry go round!

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2 Responses to Consensual self-deception: An essential trouble with humanity

  1. Catherine says:

    I shared it with my grown-up kids and my brothers.

    Merci to both of you!

    maybe we should gather once in a while and share and exchange our views.
    just a thought…

    Anyway there is a lot to read and to think about here!

  2. Ron says:

    Hi Dom

    I am suprised on how well you lisened and on how you have captured the essense of this phylosophy.
    There are a few essential ellements that have not been captured.
    Caterine’s suggestion is great. It deservers deeper dicussion so as to achieve more profound understanding.
    I would be happy to meet with you upon my return from abroad some time after Setember 29th.

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