How we see ourselves is powerfully influenced by how others,
especially important others, see us. So, messages from others in the
past may help explain our misperceptions. It seems logical then that
feedback from others in the future may help correct our
misperceptions. Furthermore, we can learn about our own rather
vague attitudes by observing our own behavior. For example, have
you ever been surprised by your reaction to a certain kind of person,
say, a person of a different race or an obese person or a homosexual?
Have you ever had a fight with a lover and left him/her thinking "good
riddance," only to discover a day or two later that you missed him/her
terribly? Sometimes a part of our true selves is revealed by our own
unexpected reactions; the better we know ourselves, the less
surprised we will be and the better we will cope.
Goethe said, "If you want to know yourself, observe what your
neighbor is doing. If you want to understand others, probe within
yourself." We can observe others more objectively than we can
ourselves; understanding others improves self-understanding. We can
discover our motives easier than we can our neighbor's; self-
understanding helps us understand others.
To realize that we sometimes think we are better than we are
and to try to correct this tendency.
To recognize that fears and misconceptions keep us from
making self-improvements and living up to our potential; this
insight may set us free.
STEP ONE: Uncovering self-deception: self-con and self-hype.
It's nice to like yourself. Having self-esteem helps us be happy,
healthy, and effective. So, we select friends and do things that make
us feel good. But we also present ourselves to others in the best
possible light and we distort reality a little bit to make ourselves look
good. We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. I'll give some
examples of the latter; you see if you are guilty of any of these
(1) A tendency to take responsibility for successes and deny
responsibility for failures. This is illogical but it makes us feel
better. Examples: if our school won, it's "we won" but if our school
lost, it's "they lost." If you do well on a test, it is because you "really
hit it" or "are good at _____," but if you bomb the test, it is because
"it was a stupid test" or "there were lots of trick and vague questions"
or "what a lousy teacher!" If you have a good relationship with
someone, it is because we "work at it" or "talk things out" or "I'm real
attentive," but if the relationship is in trouble, it is because "He won't
talk" or "She wants her way" or "He/she is so irritable." Remember,
though, that in chapter 6 we learned that depressed persons are the