And so, it is not astonishing that, though the patient enters therapy insisting that he wants to change, more often than not, what he really wants is to remain the same and to get the therapist to make him feel better. -- Sheldon Kopp
I love the text in brackets in this cutting laundry list item from Sheldon Kopp. As I start to read it I find myself nodding and thinking 'Yes, so true, I know so many people that lie and cheat and pretend', and then I keep reading and have to face the sinking reality that this also applies to me.
And this didn't just happen the first time I read it. It happens every time I read it. I don't want to admit that I lie, cheat and pretend. Aren't I better than that? That is for the less enlightened, not me. But the truth is that I do. I want to present myself in the best possible light and will sometimes pretend to be that which is not me. I make lies of omission so that the truth as it is presented makes me seem a bit more appealing than I actually am. I cut corners in my morning rituals, hoping that nobody will notice.
I certainly don't do these things in an obviously destructive way, and all in all I think I am an ethical person, somebody who is honest and open and believes that their are not shortcuts. In fact lying is necessary in many cases - it can be social grease and a developmental stage that children need to reach.
What then is the purpose of acknowledge this? That we all lie, cheat and pretend?
Firstly I think it is so we are not deluded and naive that others present themselves exactly as they are all the time. That they do lie about things sometimes. That they do try and cheat the system. That they pretend to have done things they have not. Being aware that people do this from time to time actually helps as we interact with others, and can stop us from being duped and hurt.
Secondly acknowledging that I also do this helps to keep me humble, and to keep me working on understanding the reasons why I think that even a small deception is necessary. What does that reveal about what is going on inside me? What am I hiding, and who am I hiding it from?
Noticing the small lies, cheats, and pretends helps me to get closer to becoming aware and awake to how, where, and what I actually am.