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Deception & Self-Deception March 19, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.

Ego is a master of deception and self-deception.

Ego creates illusions and persuades us that we are “under attack.”

Ego urges us to defend ourselves from imagined slights, no matter the cost.

When Ego gets defensive . . . we become offensive. 

Even when Ego’s posturing and puffing are outweighed by logic and reason, Ego stands its ground ~ insisting on its “rightness” and the “wrongness” of others.

Ego has to have “the last word.”

Instead of reading and treading carefully to evaluate ALL pertinent facts and information, Ego picks and chooses select tidbits to substantiate its skewed perception of and perspective on the world.

Ego wears blinders and selectively ignores facts which would encourage and persuade open-minded rational individuals to re-evaluate situations and hastily drawn conclusions.

Donald-Duck-MadEgo prefers to rely on irrelevant information and ad hominem attacks filled with smoke and mirrors, including fallacious insults that have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.

Ego ignores “common sense” to embrace nonsense.

Ego’s desire to be right at all costs alienates others.  When people see Ego coming, chest puffed out with know-it-all-ness, they pull down the blinds, turn off the lights, and lock the doors to keep Ego out.

Ego is not a people pleaser unless Ego wants something.  Then, Ego can be charming and obsequious ~ offering up compliments (and fake and phony apologies) designed to feed the egos of others and catch them off-guard.

Ego’s pretense mirrors that of the Big Bad Wolf wearing  grandma’s bedclothes and nightcap to fool Little Red Riding Hood.  But Ego, like the wolf, can’t hide its true nature:

Why grandma . . . what big teeth you have! “

Ego uses deception and illusion to fool others, and self-deception to fool us.

Ego stands its ground
Insisting “I’m right!” with might
Blinders block its view

When Ego wins, we lose.

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Do you think Ego adds to our happiness. . . or detracts from it?  Have you ever told your Ego to take a hike?

Related posts:   When Ego Wins . . . You Lose * Anger or Angst? * A Change Would Do You Good * Embrace Your Inner Calvin

Inspired by Sidey’s Weekend Theme: Illusion * The Only Cin * Panic Press * Adeeyoyo’s Blog * Reflections from a Cloudy Mirror * View from the Side * Sleight of Hand * La Luna Dances Tonight * Optical Illusions * This Love’s an Illusion 



1. Jackie Paulson 1966 - March 19, 2011

I am learning about the ego. This is a great blog post. I am also learning how to rid old negative beliefs. Here are my notes from something I listened to…if they make sense.

Edited Notes:
We gave behavior and events meaning
The meaning is assigned by our minds.
No one else makes us feel bad
We do that to ourselves with our thoughts.

Most events, standing alone, are neutral
We assign the meaning:

*A rainy day is neutral if we want to sit inside, reading a book
*A rainy day is wonderful for a Farmer whose crops need rain
*A rainy day is not good if we planned a picnic or outdoor wedding

Rain has no meaning until we assign it meaning from our thoughts.

We create our beliefs
Our beliefs determine our life
If we change our beliefs, we can change our life ~ even if everything else stays the same

We are not our feelings and beliefs
We are the creator of those thoughts
We don’t have to believe everything we think

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Jackie ~ Maybe you should transform these notes and your thoughts into a blog post?

Jackie Paulson 1966 - March 19, 2011

I was thinking of that, sorry it was so long.

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

No problem. But it’s probably a better practice to edit notes before posting on your blog or elsewhere. I expect most people just scrolled past your comment rather than trying to decipher your notes.

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

I’ve edited them down ~ see shortened version above. 🙂

2. oldancestor - March 19, 2011

Ego is the ruin of many a promising relationship.

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Including the relationship we have with ourself. 😉

3. carldagostino - March 19, 2011

There is a difference in what we mean by ego. In Freud’s 3 part structure of the mind there is the super ego, the ego and the id. Here the ego is merely a particular personality whatever that personality is. Then there is the ego as a characteristic of a certain personality of arrogance, submissiveness, superiority, disdain for others, self adulating.

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

I use Ego (with caps) to denote the false self as distinguished from Spirit (with caps), our true spiritual nature – the detached observer we access through mindfulness and meditation.


4. adeeyoyo - March 19, 2011

Thanks for the pingback, nrh. 🙂

I have always been amazed at how we can rationalise almost anything to ourselves! I didn’t realise how much and how often!

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

When we become more mindful of our thoughts ~ we are less subject to manipulation by others and more aware of our Ego’s illusions and delusions.

5. Paula Tohline Calhoun - March 19, 2011

I also thank you for the pingback – oh, and also for your comments about my WP problems. I think I will have them solved soon, but yesterday was a nightmare when I was trying to post new photos on my photo page. I don’t believe it is my theme choice(s), but rather some flaw with certain features – or my own ineptitude in re WP! Anything’s possible! 😀

Hopefully with a new thing I’m trying that will no longer be a problem. . .time will tell!

Paula Tohline Calhoun - March 19, 2011

Whoops! Forgot to tell you my thoughts about your post today. As always, it was very good. I am slowly beginning to understand what you intend when writing about Ego vs. ego. I have been very interested from the beginning, but for some reason, you and I often seem to trip up on words and their useage. I still believe that we have very similar viewpoints, but even if and when we don’t, I still enjoy reading yours. Cheers! 😀

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Hope you’re able to keep the theme, and toss the issues it’s raised.

I am so pleased that the theme SLTW chose on Day One has been a perfect fit with the message I’m attempting to share, and that others are able to decipher that message . . . at least on occasion. 😉

Thanks, PTC!

6. Loreen Lee - March 19, 2011

If anyone is interested in detailed study of this subject may I recommend:

l. Self-Deception Unmasked by Alfred R. Mele, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, copyright 2001 $26.40

Cover: Self-deception raises complex questions about the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. In this book, Alfred Mele addresses four of the most critical of these questions. What is it to deceive oneself? How do we deceive ourselves? Why do we deceive ourselves? Is self-deception really possible?
….At the heart of Mele’s theory is an appreciation of how emotion and motivation may, without our knowing it, bias our assessment of evidence for beliefs. Highlighting motivation and emotion, Mele develops a pair of approaches for explaining the two forms of self-deception: the ‘straight’ form, in which we believe what we want to be true, and the ‘twisted’ form in which we believe what we wish to be false.
Underlying this work is an abiding interest in Understanding and Explaining the behavior of real human beings, (empirically grounded on the study of self and the behavior of others). The result is a comprehensive, elegant, empirically grounded theory of everyday self-deception that should engage philosophers and social scientists alike.

2. Seeing Through Self-Deception. Annette Barnes, Cambridge Studies in Philosophy copyright 1997. $90.80.

Introduction reads:
What is it to deceive someone? And how is it possible to deceive oneself? Does self-deception require that people be taken in by a deceitful strategy that they know is deceitful? The literature is divided between those who argue that self-deception is intentional and those who argue that it is non-intentional (this possible with respect to an ego?) In this study, Annette Barnes offers a challenge to both the standard characterization of other-deception and current characterizations of self deception, examining the available explanations and exploring such questions as the self-deceiver’s false consciousness, bias, and the irrationality of objectionability of self-deception. She arrives at a nonintentional account of self-deception that is deeper and more complete than alternative non-intentional accounts and avoids the reduction of self-deceptive belief to wishful belief.

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Thanks, LL

Loreen Lee - March 20, 2011

Just ran across a quote by Nietzsche that I ‘know’ you will delete. “Egoism (Self) is the essence of a noble soul”. Love.

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

LL ~ I am open to differing opinions and viewpoints on SLTW. Your comments will NEVER be deleted because you disagreed with my view of the world.

Your comments will be deleted when you:

* throw tantrums and hissy fits
* refuse to stay on point
* insist that I follow YOUR agenda
* bicker endlessly
* engage in hair pulling and mud-slinging
* otherwise behave badly

In short, your comments will be deleted when they detract from the discussion and negatively impact others in the audience. Cheers!

7. Piglet in Portugal - March 19, 2011

I think our egos have to be “managed”. You need self-confidence to get on in life, but it is important our egos are harnessed to humility. Sometimes we think we are right and we stand our ground, but it takes courage to re evaluate,admit we may be wrong, apologise and change course. Keep an open mind as you go through life and you won’t go far wrong 🙂

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Wonderful thoughts, PiP.

I am terribly amused by people who argue over This, That, and The Other Thing day in and day out. It must be exhausting.

I am also amused when people insist that their view of the world is the only correct way to view the world . . . discounting even the direct personal experiences of others.

Again, how exhausting. 😎

8. Lisa Kramer - March 19, 2011

I have met the personification of “Ego” and he annoys the heck out of me. He makes my ego want to come out and not play nice.

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

It’s tempting, isn’t it?

Especially when those with differing attitudes exhibit no latitude for the opinions and viewpoints of others. 😎

9. Debra - March 19, 2011

Great post and great comments. 🙂

I do not think I could add anything to this conversation…that would carry it further.:) Well done everyone:)

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Thanks, Debra. Your comment made me smile. 🙂

Here’s to seeing “truth” through the grace of experience and our inner wisdom.

10. Cindy - March 19, 2011

‘Ego’ is a brand name for a men’s deoderant in SA, a bestseller 😉

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

They could also call it TMT . . . Too Much Testosterone! 😉

11. Tilly Bud - March 19, 2011

Another interesting post. Also PiP’s comment.

Do you not think we bloggers have a little more ego than others?

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Depends on the blogger.

Bloggers who are sharing what they’ve learned about life to help others navigate the journey seem far less ego-oriented than those shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” 😀

Another way that bloggers “give back” rather than just taking is by making readers LAUGH . . . something that you do with regularity.

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

I think you can put bloggers in two categories:

* Those who have something to say and say it.
* Those who just want to hear themselves talk.

When bloggers are offering something of value to their readers (entertainment, humor, life lessons, etc.), I don’t see them “egotistical.” I see them as entertainers, comics, teachers, etc.

In contrast, when bloggers share whatever pops into their heads because they want to “be seen” . . . I see them as egos-on-a-stick and lose interest quickly.

12. Rosa - March 19, 2011

I love the pictures you used to illustrate this post! The whole thing made me smile. It is all too true… particularly the part about self deception…

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Thanks, Rosa.

Here’s how my thoughts used to meander:

Man, I can’t believe they forgot my birthday.
No body cares about me.
They wouldn’t even notice if I ran away.
People are such jerks.
I don’t even want to . . .


Oh, they didn’t forget.
They remembered my birthday.
They do care about me.
I can’t run away.
They would miss me.
People are so awesome . . .

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

And now (on my good days):

Ego: Man, I can’t believe they forgot my birthday.
No body cares about me.

Me: Hmm . . . is that true?

Ego: Yes, people are such . . .

Me: No. It’s not true.

Ego: Yes it it!!! {stomps feet}

Me: Ego, shut up and take a hike.
I have better things to do with my time.

Om mane padme om . . .

13. tahliaN - March 19, 2011

I totally agree with you, and anything else that I would contribute to this discussion you’ll find at the link below. The post is about how ego strangles artistic development.


nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Awesome post, Tahlia! So many great points.

Two of my favorites:

* When in the grip of ego, we so want our work to be good, that we see it as good, despite all evidence to the contrary. When we read it, we simply don’t see what’s wrong with it, because we don’t want to admit there might be something wrong.

* We may even slander the critic just to shore up our opinion of ourselves when perhaps all they were really trying to do was help.

Your post is spot on! You nailed it.

Thanks so much for the link.

14. Momsomniac - March 19, 2011

This is a wonderful post. There is at least one person in my life I’d love to share it with…but I think it would make her angry, like *almost* everything else else I do.

Funny about blogging – I do it to practice non-technical writing and to have a place to post links to my published fiction. If I was not writing “in public”, I’d be less motivated to (try to) write well.

So, for me it’s a way to practice a skill I want to improve. I am often surprised at what I have to say.

Being a working, middle aged Mom of 3 boys under 6 keeps that practice slow *really really slow* but still…it’s practice.

p.s. I love your blog. It’s beautiful!

nrhatch - March 19, 2011

Thanks for swinging by. I enjoyed “meeting” you on Janna’s most recent post. 🙂

Motivating ourselves to polish up our writing before sharing it with others makes blogging a win for us and a win for our readers.

In contrast, when bloggers just throw some thoughts on a page and expect readers to decipher the mixed up, muddled up mess, I lose patience and stop following their blogs.

Probably because I sense that they are more interested in garnering attention than in sharing carefully crafted posts . . . and I’m not interested in feeding their Egos. 😀

Carving out writing time as the mother of 3 young boys must be a challenge, but that practice will pay off as your writing voice soars.

15. libraryscene - March 19, 2011

Fabulous post (as well as use of Illusion)..

Must say that your crazy monkey cracks me up, I wish to steal him from you!

As for ego, well, I wish mine would just go away.. too much negative talk from that One, a creative killjoy! At least I’ve gotten over the “I’m right, your wrong business”… I think (can’t say for certain as not in a relationship right now ;))

nrhatch - March 20, 2011


That monkey is up for grabs at avatarist.com. So help yourself. 😉

As far as your inner critic goes, this article might interest you:


16. viviankirkfield - March 20, 2011

Hi Nancy,
Thank you for a wonderful post. The great thing about this blogging is that so many people pose questions that are really thought-provoking.
I loved PiP’s take on the post…sometimes it’s a fine line between having self-confidence and being arrogant…between having high self-esteem and being condescending…as with children when we want them to be wary of strangers…but also out-going and friendly.
EGO doesn’t care about others…a telling characteristic of the selfish and self-centered…but it’s not always easy to step back and look at things objectively. 🙂

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

Thanks, Vivian.

We should allow our best selves to shine forth with confidence . . . without comparing ourselves to others.

That’s where arrogance and inferiority arise. Both are deadly.

Instead of trying to be better than, or feeling worse than, others, we just manifest the brilliance within:


17. granny1947 - March 20, 2011

Morning NR…what a pity I can’t give this post to my friend’s boss to read!

viewfromtheside - March 20, 2011

send it off anonymously?

Piglet in Portugal - March 20, 2011

Come on Granny you are resourceful…I’m sure you will find a way! LOL 🙂

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

I had a boss like this once! Well, several, actually. Working for them was . . . “challenging.”

I agree with PiP and sidey . . . where there’s a will there’s a way. 😀

18. viewfromtheside - March 20, 2011

Most insightful. The biggest illusions come from EGO

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

Yes, indeed.

My Ego has told me more lies than I can count ~ throwing pity parties, comparing me to others, claiming the sky is falling, etc..

19. Sandra Bell Kirchman - March 20, 2011

Exceptionally good post, Nancy. It made think and assess a few Ego habits of my own. When my Ego takes over, I sometimes mistakenly believe that I am standing up for myself or my rights. Then when it (the fooforaw) is over, I feel very bad for being so bull-headed and for making the other person feel bad. I usually apologize right then and there, but I carry that baggage with me for a while. It’s almost like I like to suffer.

I’ve been through a lot and I’ve learned a ton. But there are still a few not-so-good habits that continue to stick.

Thanks for this very well-thought-out post with such a clear view of Ego and the damage it does. I like the way you handle yours lol

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

Thanks, Sandra. Ego is ever-ready to jump in and hijack our thoughts to berate us, berate others, and spread despair about the current state of affairs.

Ego loves to throw pity parties:
* You can’t do that . . .
* Life sucks . . .
* You’ll never be good enough . . .
* Life’s not fair . . . (well, that one’s probably true) 😉

Ego loves to feed its fragile “ego”:
* They don’t deserve a friend like you . . .
* You are much BETTER than they are . . .
* They should pay more attention to you . . .
* You sing/play/dance/write so much BETTER than that . . .
* They are WRONG . . .
* You are RIGHT . . .

Ego can be downright gloomy:
* We’re doomed . . .
* The world will never get any better . . .

The more mindful we are of our thoughts, the more quickly we can reclaim the controls from Ego.

When our thoughts turn negative, or start to compare our efforts with the efforts of others, we can zoom in, take a long hard look at the thought, and decide if it’s really “true.”

Often it isn’t.

It’s just another lie that can be safely ignored.

20. eof737 - March 20, 2011

I love that Angry monkey; he’s a classic sociopath – smiling away while mad as hell. As per the ego, a teacher once said, make friends with your ego and then train it to cooperate. Like you, I’m in constant conversation with mine… let’s just say we know each other very well; self-refection is good for the soul.
Love your post Nancy! 🙂

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

That monkey is as “mad” as a hatter. 🙂

The ego, like the mind, can be a wonderful assistant, but a terrible master.

Master your thoughts, master your life. 😎

21. suzicate - March 20, 2011

Ego is a you know what! This weekend I dealt with someome who is all ego, guess every family has one! And this person has no idea what so ever…I can only shake my head and walk a way.

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

They. Are. Clueless.

They’re so wrapped up in their warped opinions and skewed view of the world that they are oblivious to how they are perceived by others.

They’re like horses wearing blinders. 😉

22. The Emptiness of a Life Without Meaning | Leadership, Behaviors, and Success - March 20, 2011

[…] Deception & Self-Deception (nrhatch.wordpress.com) […]

23. rlm4136 - March 21, 2011

Thanks great information.

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