The expression “to deceive yourself” is reflexive. It’s the same with erring, being mistaken, or being wrong about someone or something. That means that when you deceive yourself, it is like when you take a shower.
You cannot take a shower and then accuse someone that you are not clean, because it was you who took off your clothes and stood in the shower: You soaped yourself up and rinsed your body with water. You left the shower, dried yourself off and got dressed again.
Now, when you stand in front of the mirror and see that your hair is greasy, you can’t call your brother and say, “Hey, you dumbass, why do I still have greasy hair? I just got out of the shower, didn’t I?”
When an expression is reflexive, it means that no one else has anything to do with it. The guys who invented these expressions thought carefully about this.
What happens when you deceive yourself? It may have to do with a wrong assessment. For example, you fall through the ice into the lake because you deceived yourself about the thickness. You misjudged it.
Or you saw something and it caused you to make an assumption. For example, you entered the store assuming that you could buy bread there because a woman left the store with a baguette. You enter the store assuming that it is a bakery, but it is in fact a butcher shop. You deceived yourself.
It can also be that you did not see something and that is why you were mistaken. For example, if you do not see the hole in the apple, you may end up eating the worm with it.
Often you deceive yourself because you believe something. If you believe that someone has a lot of matrix because he visited 10 Possibility Labs, there is a possibility that you are fooling yourself and deceiving yourself.
If you believe that a man is in control of his sexual energy because he is married, there is a possibility that you are deceiving yourself.
If you believe that you are the one who can hold space for this man and his problems, it could be that you are fooling and deceiving yourself.
If you believe the stories that someone tells you about that man (or that woman), and you make a decision based on those stories, you may be deceiving yourself.
If you believe a story that someone told you about someone, and you make a decision based on it, the responsibility is yours, not the person who told the story.
Or let me put it this way: If you make a decision based on anyone’s story, there is a damn good chance that you will be wrong, because you are deceiving yourself. That is simply because stories are stories and never true.
Stories are like cotton candy. The real core is a few grains of sugar and a machine turns them into huge clouds of sweet nothingness.
I am not saying that it is wrong to make decisions based on stories. I’m just saying that the responsibility is yours. It is your decision and your responsibility. Always. Because “deceiving yourself” is reflexive.
When a woman says the sentence, “I was wrong about him,” she’s actually saying that she deceived herself because she misjudged something / missed something / believed something, but sometimes she might not really mean that because in the next sentence there is a story about what that man did.
“I was wrong about him. He’s not a professor at the university at all. The Porsche belongs to his brother and he’s just a simple electrician. He is a scoundrel and a liar!”
I present in this article nine tools you can use to prevent yourself from deceiving yourself or falling prey to a man’s attempts to deceive you.
Tool number 1: Centering yourself
Centering yourself is the most powerful tool when you meet a man. And actually, it is not a tool. A tool is something you pick up when you need it.
For example, a carpenter doesn’t always have his hammer with him everywhere. When he goes to the ice cream parlour to eat a banana split, he almost certainly leaves the hammer in the workshop.
It is necessary, on the other hand, that you are always centered, wherever you go. Especially when you eat a banana split.
I mention it in this list anyway. Because it is the most important tool of all. It is the base. All the tools in the whole world are a blunt sword if you are not centered.
You have to be centered to perceive with all your senses what is there.
You have to be centered to ask the right questions.
You have to be centered to say what is.
You have to be centered to see the variety of possibilities that are here and now.
You have to be centered to act unusually and non-linear.
You have to be centered to remain capable of acting at all and not be hypnotized like a rabbit meeting a snake.
Tool number 2: Your sword
You have an energetic sword of clarity. Don’t leave it at home on the bookshelf!
When you meet a man, don’t even let your sword dangle at your side in its sheath. Draw it and carry it in your right hand (unless you wield your sword with your left hand).
You need it ready for use. You need it to sharpen your senses.
How will you discern and decide without your sword?
How will you distinguish what are your problems and what are his?
How will you decide what you want?
How will you say yes without your sword? Or no? And how will you say stop?
And how will you distinguish the yes from the no?
How will you see your possibilities if you don’t have the clarity?
Your possibilities arise in a clear space where things are distinguished.
I’m talking about your energetic sword of clarity here.
That doesn’t mean you can’t bring a physical sword to a meeting with a man.
Tool number 3: Bullshit detector
Bullshit is irrelevant and useless. If you don’t realize that it is bullshit because your bullshit detector isn’t turned on, you’re responsible for your own victim stories of your broken heart, deception, lies and betrayal.
You don’t have a bullshit detector? Bullshit. Everyone has one and it may be that yours is not switched on.
My bullshit detector is at the level of the middle of my sternum and it has a simple toggle switch to turn it off and on.
My detector measures the quality of bullshit on a scale of 1 to 10.
Bullshit on the scale of 1 means: this is partial or some bullshit / a few things in this statement are irrelevant and useless. The quality of this bullshit is very low.
Scale 10 means: This bullshit is of the highest, brilliant quality. Everything in this statement is completely irrelevant and radically useless.
Tool number 4: Be an asshole
The value of your bullshit detector increases immeasurably if you can be an asshole.
The detector measures bullshit and the asshole puts the bullshit on the table and says, “This is bullshit.”
The connection should have become clear.
If you can be an asshole, you don’t have to conform anymore. You can stop making yourself small, smiling nicely, laughing at bad, raunchy jokes, eating something you don’t like, and admiring someone who is just trying to make a fool of you.
If you’re an asshole, you can say what’s right for you and ask the dangerous questions.
You can say stop before a man talks to you about his sexual fantasies without your consent, because if you’re an asshole you can interrupt anyone immediately, with reason or without reason.
Tool number 5: Split your attention
You’ve probably been splitting your attention all day now. You’re eating a cheese sandwich while reading a book, and noticing in passing that the water for your tea is boiling. With another part of your attention, you hear the birds chirping in the tree outside and somehow you also remember that you have to get up soon because your mom has announced her visit. I could go on with this list for a long time.
The key to splitting attention is awareness.
Let’s say you’re walking with a man and suddenly it starts raining cats and dogs and the man runs because both of your cars are in the parking lot just a few hundred yards away and you run after him and because he runs much faster he gets to his first and already sits in his car when you finally arrive too, and because you now have to coordinate where you’re going, you stand in the pouring rain in front of his car where he’s lowered the window 2 inches and you ask him, “Where are we going?“ before finally getting into your own car, soaked wet to the bone.
This is what I did. I noticed everything but blocked most of it out and even told a funny story about it, “Haha, we went for a walk and then it started raining and we both ran to our cars laughing and it was so nice because our first meeting was so delightfully imperfect.”
Later I saw that all the clues were there from the beginning. It was all visible and everything was very clear. I saw it and did not draw attention to it. I did not make the decision and choose the way I would have if I had been paying attention.
Tool number 6: Say stop
A stop is a boundary. If you can master the tool of saying stop, it means you can take good care of yourself, protect yourself. If you cannot say stop, you cannot do any of that.
When is the right time to say stop?
For now, act as if the right moment was the first impulse you consciously perceive. Assume that it can have severe consequences if you say stop too late because you don’t want to be rude, because you don’t want the man to leave, because you hope it will pass. Assume that your boundary is insignificant if you do not demonstrate it and say stop. Then it is as if you did not have a boundary and as if you were wasteland where anyone can build whatever they want.
I will say it even more clearly: If you are in a situation where you are thinking about whether you should say stop, it is high time to do so and perhaps already too late. Because the question arises in you after the first impulse.
Saying stop creates distinction, creates clarity, makes you visible. Saying stop gives you back your dignity.
Tool number 7: Take a picture
Taking a photo is a kind of support tool for all the other tools already mentioned.
Things happen very quickly and especially when you are dating for the first time, it is challenging to be centered, wield the sword, turn on the bullshit detector and have conscious attention on everything as an asshole.
That is why I recommend this tool, which is primarily used to create a time gap and take your time looking at everything. The advantage of a photo is that it does not change, it is a frozen representation of a past now. There’s a lot to discover in a photo; I almost want to talk about an art of looking at a photo properly:
- Who can be seen there? Who else is there, for example in the background?
— In which room are the people?
— What is the spatial distance between them / are some of them touching?
— Where does the gaze of each person go / is there eye contact?
— Where are the shoe tips pointing?
— What clothes are the persons wearing, how are the hairstyles?
— What do the facial expressions say?
— What subtle gestures are visible and what do they mean?
— What feelings are visible in the persons?
— What do you feel as a viewer of this photograph?
— What are the things you didn’t notice when you were in the situation?
To really look at a photo, 2 minutes is not enough. I would recommend looking at the photo for at least 20 minutes. That should be enough.
Oh yes, how do you get the photo? You could, for example, ask a friend to take the photo while you are sitting with the man in the café. It is easy and no one will notice anything. Speaking of girlfriends…
Tool number 8: Friends by your side
Use the wisdom of the people who know and love you. Introduce the man to your best friend pretty soon.
Your best friend most likely sees things you don’t and she may also see things that you see but that don’t want to see.
If the man is not willing to do this and says, “It’s much nicer when it’s just the two of us, just you and me,” and if he keeps turning down all the invitations to get together with your friends, forget about him.
If you hide him from your best friend, forget about him too.
And ask yourself why you are hiding him. I had an acquaintance with a man I met over the internet. He was not willing to meet my best friends or my daughters, even after half a year. No one ever saw him. (Maybe I just imagined him??).
Tool number 9: Non-linearity
Everything is going great, you’re in seventh heaven, the man is gorgeous, and everything is going beautifully. Stop!
It sounds like you have fallen asleep. Sounds like you’re deaf and blind. Sounds like your center is not with you. Sounds like you are gliding along on the linearity of your life. Sounds like a fantasy world.
Time for a good dose of non-linearity!
First of all, non-linearity wakes you up. It jolts you awake like a conductor rumbling into your sleeper car, shaking your shoulder and shouting, “Heello! We’re in Helsinki. You need to get off.”
(This example doesn’t work properly because it’s non-linear).
Then it is as if non-linearity opens a few more doors where there was only one before. You can also replace the word doors with the word answers or the word possibilities.
Non-linearity can throw everything off and suddenly you may see the toad in the picture that was invisible before.
Here are some more possibilities and suggestions on how you can experiment with non-linearity:
— Wear completely different clothes to meet the man. Wear men’s clothes or dress up as a cook. Put on a lot of makeup or none at all. Come to the café in slippers. Go barefoot.
— Give three different answers to each question the man asks.
— For every question the man asks, give the exact opposite answer from what you would have otherwise answered.
— Avoid eye contact with the man and do not look him in the face. What do you perceive?
— Make a date with him to go to the movies and come to the meeting place with a dog. (If you don’t have a dog, borrow one).
— Speak without periods or commas. Talk for thirty minutes at a time and don’t let anyone interrupt you at all.
Finally, do an experiment:
For one week, write down every story that you have heard about this man and the ones you have told yourself. Of course, and especially include the ones he tells about himself. Write them on paper.
After a week, take all the paper, everything you wrote down, and burn it. Yes, make a nice fire in your garden.
What is there to say about this man now?
What is the man without all these stories?
Maybe not much.
Maybe he is nothing.