We are all susceptible to self-delusion, even—and perhaps especially—those of us who actively strive for clarity. Why would this be? Well, the same tools that assist us in tearing down false conditions and manifesting what we desire, are the same tools that can lead us woefully astray. These tools are powerful, but they are also dependent upon the perspective of the one using them. And there’s one thing we can count on regarding perspective—it’s subject to change.
Change, of course, can be good. How else would we evolve and improve if not for change? Sometimes, what looks to others as hypocrisy is, by our perception, growth. And other times it’s not. How, then, do we tell the difference? I don’t think there are any fool-proof solutions but I do think there are indicators.
When we stand calmly on the shore—which hopefully describes how we feel most of the time—we find our neutrality, morality and wisdom. We can see things clearly from a place of peace and clarity of thought. We are neither pushed nor pulled by strong emotions and it is evident to us when those around us are. This is us at our highest wisdom and our world feels calm and right.
But life would be a bit monochromatic simply standing on the shore, and I think we humans like color. So occasionally, we dive into the river of passion and risk. It’s exciting and exhilarating. We learn much about ourselves and we experience things that we would never have experienced on the shore. When we finally climb out of the river, we’re further down the bank where things look different. We find a new neutrality, hopefully benefited by experience-earned wisdom and a confirmation of morality. At our best, we navigate this river with all of those things intact, enjoying the exhilaration without losing that sense of inner calm and direction. But we humans are not always at our best. Sometimes, we get caught in the current.
Things can look radically different when consumed by passion. It doesn’t have to be of a lustful nature—although if you’re old enough to think back on a time when you lost your good sense to lust or love, you’ll know exactly what I mean—it might be the passion of strongly held beliefs. (I make a distinction between feeling strongly and holding strongly to beliefs.) Or it might be the passion of excessive emotions like anger, jealousy, or pity. Regardless of the type, the passion is so strong that we lose our center compass. When that happens, our perspective changes and all that wisdom we used to possess, and probably even shared with others, no longer applies. What we used to caution others against or perceive as detrimental, now feels like the only appropriate course of action. What we used to perceive as wrong, now seems right—and not just a little right—profoundly right.
This is an intoxicating current. We like it and we want to go where it’s taking us. But we also want to be authentic. I’m not sure humans can even exist in a state of conscious hypocrisy. So when we’re caught in a current of passion, we alter our beliefs to accommodate it. Our inner voice starts justifying what we want with all the reasons of why we should have it. We rewrite our former core beliefs to support the exception that we are already making. In this way, we can feel righteous while we are doing things we would not have previously approved. That feeling of righteousness becomes the evidence that we are doing the right thing. In this way, we trick ourselves into believing that our morality and wisdom approve of our uncharacteristic behavior.
So how can we differentiate between self-growth and self-trickery? Personally, I look for indicators, like when I catch myself making statements like: “Yes that’s true, but not in this situation.” “Normally I would never, but now I feel compelled.” “I know what I said, but that was before I knew.” Or the all powerful: “This is different.”
I’m also alerted if I find myself defending my uncharacteristic behavior to others, or even in my own mind. A continued state of justification is a strong indication that I am caught in a current.
If you found some value in this mindful musing, please share: A little empowerment goes a long way.
Tori Eldridge is an author who challenges perception and empowers the spirit each and every day! VISIT HER WEBSITE to read more Mindful Musings, listen to Empowered Living Radio podcasts, or learn more about her and the books she writes, including the expanded e-book edition of EMPOWERED LIVING Expanded Edition: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection.