5 (Plus One Bonus) Ways You Are Fooling Yourself


1. You use religion as a salve for your conscience. 

You go to church. You worship your God. You tell people “I’ll pray for you.” You pass along the dreaded e-mail prayer chain. Beyond that, however, you lead the same self-centered, hypocritical life you’ve always lead. But since you go to church, it’s fine. After all, you’re forgiven. Or you’re saved. 

You allow the construct of religion to keep you from being an authentic person. Even more problematic, you use religious beliefs as a means to support your pettiness, your prejudices, your political preferences, your agenda. 

2. You believe watching/talking about something is the same as doing something. 

Did you see the beautiful video of the dog that was rescued from the garbage dump? How about the one of the soldier who was reunited with his family? Those made you feel great, maybe even brought a tear to your eye. 

Here’s the problem. You didn’t participate in that. You just watched it. But you triggered the emotional response in your brain that makes you feel as though you did something altruistic. 

I told my family I was going to write a novel. They thought it was a great idea and applauded this endeavor. That was a year ago. Still no novel. Same problem as above. By telling people my goal I triggered the same emotional response as actually accomplishing my goal. This, in turn, diminished my desire to follow through. I already received the emotional reward. 

3. You believe you need validation to act. 

You know what you can do. But you are reluctant to do so because you haven’t been granted “permission”. After my last article for Thought Catalog I was contacted by a young man who was knowledgeable about computers but was stuck. He was waiting to accumulate enough hours to receive his technical degree before applying for a job. “Screw that” I told him. Start knocking on doors right away. Don’t wait for a paper that says you are qualified to do something. 

4. You believe being against everything is the same as being for something. 

Here’s an interesting exercise. Make a list of everything you are “against.” Then make a list of everything you are “for.” I would wager that the list of things you are against is much longer than the list of things you are for. Find a cause-something you can really get behind. Focused energy on one positive endeavor is better than dispersed energy on an array of negative things. Instead of protesting a certain issue, champion the opposite of that issue. 

5. You develop hard opinions on issues/people/events you know very little about. 

I don’t know shit about global warming. But I have a position on it. I know damn little about welfare reform or Lady Gaga or immigration or baseball or trickle-down economics or juice cleanses or Bill Belichick. This hasn’t stopped me from spouting an opinion about each of them. 

And most of what I know I learn from my preferred news sources. I have contrived my own personal echo chamber. You have too. The challenge is to constantly doubt these beliefs and test them. 

6. (BONUS): You don’t believe any of these apply to you but you can’t wait to share them with someone you think would benefit.


2 thoughts on “5 (Plus One Bonus) Ways You Are Fooling Yourself

  1. Good afternoon Mr. Hoch. I really wanted to relay how much I enjoyed your writings. Your humor, sarcasm, and sincerity kept a smile on my face throughout each of your entries.(sorry, b**g is a word i just can not come to terms with using…not even in written word) I suppose my comment doesn’t apply to this piece in particular but this was my favorite so far.
    I’m a 37 year old father of 3 amazing young ladies. (15,12,10) I have recently started to become self aware. Well, that’s the thrifty explanation I prefer to use anyways. A rather eye opening affair to say the least. The proverbial bulb above my head was lit and rather than yielding the clichéd idea, it became more of a spotlight to help guide me into the unknown, or unrecognized if you will, parts of self. It wasn’t one particular event or some grandeur act of fate, God, et cetera. that hit the switch either. I spent my entire life based on an adage I heard my stepmother say when i was rather young, “I’m not always right, but I’m never wrong.” If I could argue someone into submission that made right in my mind with no concern to any other perspectives. If I told everyone I was a drug addict or didn’t lie if asked, it justified my means and therefore made it ok in my mind. Nevermind what it did to the ones, the few, who actually care for me. My point being, I never realized how self absorbed I was. I mean, I wasn’t selfish, narcissistic, nor cocky by the conventional definition of those terms, so again, in my mind, self absorbed was not something I would’ve used when describing myself. Never! Well needless to say, I’ll apologize in advance for this corniness, have seen the light. I wasted so much time and emotion trying to learn, or teach myself, the things that ended up being delivered by time. Patience, tolerance, things of that manner.
    Well, as I was just informed by my girlfriend, I have been writing this “comment” for a bit now and didn’t realize it. I didn’t mean to hop up on the soapbox and monologue the day away. I usually refrain from comments regardless of my opinion so today I decided otherwise because I really enjoyed reading your pieces and I’m going outside my normal. Even if it’s only an over wordy comment, it’s different. Sorry, I’m about hop back up there. For some reason I’m comfortable just rambling to my idea of you. I don’t know, I’ll run these circles in my own journals. Damn, this was not my intent. Well, I appreciate and wholeheartedly relate to your stories. Your style relays your genuineness in all you say. Thanks….aaaand sorry for the caffeine fueled, rambled sermon. Have a beautiful day.

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