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Self-Deception

  • ... there are two things everybody thinks they can do—write a book and run a shop.

  • The human mind has an infinite capacity for self-deception.

  • Is there no Villain in this World who doth not regard himself as a poor abus'd Innocent, no She-Wolf who doth not think herself a Lamb, no Shark who doth not fancy that she is a Goldfish?

  • His cravings and dreams were not for somebody to be devoted to, but for somebody to be devoted to him. And, like most people who possess this characteristic, he mistook it for an affectionate disposition.

  • There is no illusion so permanent as that which enables us to look backward with complacency; there is no mental process so deceptive as the comparing of recollections with realities.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "A Question of Politeness," Americans and Others ()
  • It is human nature to overestimate the thing you've never had.

  • Human beings are mercifully so constituted as to be able to conceal from themselves what they intend to do until they are well into the doing of it.

  • Everyone realizes that one can believe little of what people say about each other. But it is not so widely realized that even less can one trust what people say about themselves.

  • The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible.

  • ... people have a nearly infinite capacity for self-delusion, don't you think?

  • Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.

  • He was really very fond of his temper, and rather enjoyed referring to it with tolerant regret as being a bad one and beyond his control — with a manner which suggested that the attribute was the inevitable result of strength of character and masculine spirit.

  • One has no right to form ideals of people, and then, because they don't justify them, become bitter.

    • Olive Schreiner,
    • 1920, in S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner, ed., The Letters of Olive Schreiner 1876-1920 ()
  • Mabel Pettigrew thought: I can read him like a book. She had not read a book for over forty years, could never concentrate on reading, but this nevertheless was her thought ...

  • It is a great thing to be persuaded that at bottom you have a good heart. Lady Charlotte was so persuaded, and allowed herself many things in consequence.

  • There are no such self-deceivers as those who think they reason when they only feel.

  • Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself ...

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Self-Respect," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • What's terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better.

  • Gertrude could scarcely restrain a smile at hearing Lord Rossville quote himself as a pattern to be followed instead of a rock to be shunned; but such is the blindness of human nature; we are all but too apt to hold ourselves up as guides when we ought to be satisfied to serve as beacons.

  • ... Michael couldn't bear to think of himself as average. He lived on dreams, saw a tycoon in the mirror when he shaved, lied to himself and everyone.

  • Our ability to delude ourselves may be an important survival tool.