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Please, Lie to Me: The Fearful Dance with Truth

Updated: Feb 6

Pinocchio dancing

Every therapeutic cure, and still more, any awkward attempt to show the patient the truth, tears him from the cradle of his freedom from responsibility and must therefore reckon with the most vehement resistance.

~ Alfred Adler ~

In a world inundated with (mis)information and opinions, the truth can be a bitter pill to swallow. Alfred Adler, the renowned Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, once pointed out that some individuals are driven to practice biases out of fear of truth. These biases serve as a protective shield, shielding us from the discomfort that accompanies facing inconvenient truths. The human mind navigates through the labyrinth of biases, seeking solace in self-delusion and the consequences of such behavior.

The Comfort of Confirmation Bias

The comfort of confirmation bias

Confirmation bias, the selective pursuit of information that validates our beliefs while discarding opposing views, offers us a false sense of reassurance. We surround ourselves with like-minded individuals and sources, reaffirming our convictions and safeguarding our egos. We revel in the echo chamber, where the cacophony of dissenting voices is drowned out, and our world remains unchallenged. This bias betrays one of those times when we quietly reveal to others what we want them to do for us, "please, lie to me."

Cognitive Dissonance: The Struggle Within

Cognitive dissonance

The human mind abhors internal conflict. Cognitive dissonance emerges when we confront information that contradicts our deeply ingrained beliefs. The discomfort is palpable, and in our pursuit of inner harmony, we resort to mental gymnastics to justify our existing views. Rejecting the truth becomes a defense mechanism, preventing the destabilization of our cognitive equilibrium.

The Allure of Anchoring Bias

Image of an anchor

The first pieces of information we encounter often become the anchors on which we build our understanding of the world. Anchoring bias solidifies our beliefs, making it arduous to consider alternative viewpoints. We latch onto these anchors, fearful of drifting away from the familiar shores of our convictions.

Overconfidence: Shielding Our Egos


Overconfidence bias paints an imaginary picture of our knowledge and competence. It encourages us to shun well-informed opinions that challenge our perceived expertise. Our egos, yearning for validation, reject the notion of being fallible. We would rather believe we possess unwavering knowledge than admit to gaps in understanding.

Escaping the Perils of Groupthink


As social beings, we find solace in conformity and cohesion. Groupthink creates a safe space where we need not grapple with diverse perspectives. In the warmth of like-minded camaraderie, dissent is stifled, and self-delusion flourishes. The fear of rejection from the group keeps us from questioning collective beliefs.

Embracing Wishful Thinking

wishful thinking

Wishful thinking is the siren song of self-delusion. We yearn for certain outcomes and convince ourselves that reality aligns with our desires. If our wishes remain unfulfilled, the prospect of disappointment pushes us deeper into the clutches of denial.

The Identity Conundrum


Our identities are intricately woven into our beliefs and values. We fear that accepting inconvenient truths would destabilize the foundation of who we are. As a result, we cling fiercely to beliefs that align with our identities, avoiding any unsettling revelations that might challenge our self-concept.

Solutions to the Fearful Dance with Truth


Here are a few essential tips to help you confront and overcome biases:

1. Be Mindful. It is important to acknowledge we all have and fall victim to biases.

2. Practice Integrity: Refuse to be part of the problem and commit to being truthful.

3. Learn About Biases: Become a student of biases and prejudice. It will allow you to practice integrity and stay out of trouble.

4. Learn to Problem-Solve. Find the answers to your paradoxes and dilemmas by learning how to solve problems.

5. Learn from Paradoxes, Dilemmas, and Contrarian Beliefs: Rather than fighting differences, approach them with curiosity and an appetite to discover and learn about yourself, others, and the operating assumptions. Make a friend in the process of debating merits.

6. Be Humble: If unsure, tell the truth by saying, "I don't know." Don't pass on information if you are uncertain.

7. Do Not Follow the Crowd: Wise Moses wrote, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil: …" Avoid group pressure to follow something unproven. Many people can be and have been wrong.

8. Leverage Your Feelings: Consider Meaningful Purpose Psychology's axiom: If you feel anxiety, arrogance, fear, or anger, your senses are telling you something meaningful. Heed your intuition and negative feelings, and weigh your options carefully!

The path to truth might not always be easy, but it is a path toward a clear conscience. And while the fearful dance with truth might be scary, eventually, it will waltz us into courage, wisdom, and reality.

The Path to Truth


While biases offer momentary relief from the discomfort of facing the truth, they eventually lead us down a dangerous path. Denying reality can have grave consequences, both personally and collectively. To evolve and grow, we must bravely confront our biases and acknowledge the fear, anger, anxiety, and arrogance that propels us toward self-delusion. As Jamie Buckingham wisely pointed out, "The truth will set you free, but first, it will make you miserable." Embracing truth is the key to personal growth and a more enlightened society, no matter how uncomfortable.

Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose: Discovering Life's Answers. ™


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