Self-development and self-actualization are two goals in which we should all strive. We want to continue working on ourselves and improve ourselves, not just professionally and personally, but morally and ethically. Complacency get can us bogged in a quagmire where our development may become static. The issue is “How do we know where we truly stand with our strengths and weaknesses?” We can think we are strong in a certain area or even a good person, but are we just deluding ourselves? This is the fine line between confidence & self-delusion which we discuss today.
Self-esteem is important, as we are told by numerous mental health professionals. The funny thing is that prior to the 1970s the concept of self-esteem was rarely heard. Either way, we have been told we should think highly of ourselves. But with the line between confidence & self-delusion, is that mentality fraught with problems?
You commonly hear about positive self-affirming mantras that we should express to ourselves to prop up our self-esteem. Common ones are:
- “You are a good person.”
- “You are smart.”
- “You are good-looking.”
- “You are well-liked by others.”
- “If you were to die, many people would be devastated.”
- “My workplace would be hard to replace you.”
- “You are a success.”
Line Between Confidence & Self-Delusion
Of course, it makes sense that we want to think well of ourselves. Thinking otherwise could be devastating to your self-esteem. Plus, what is the benefit of negative self-talk? Is there any good to think the following:
- “You are a horrible piece of shit.”
- “You are dumb.”
- “You are ugly and not found attractive by the opposite sex.”
- “You are disliked by others.”
- “If you were to die, no one would care.”
- “My workplace would function just fine without me. In fact they could fine a person better than me.”
- “I am a failure in life.”
But here’s the thing…what if we are these things? Maybe we are unattractive or lacking in significant talents. If you believe in the self-empowerment and self-esteem movement, you should dismiss any objective indicators that you are lacking because it is paramount to think you are practically perfect. But if you are not perfect are you not doing a disservice? This is the line between confidence & self-delusion.
So where do we fit in the spectrum vis-à-vis of success? It’s all relative. If you compare your financial success to a person in the sub-Saharan Africa who lives in a hut surrounded by disease-breeding mosquitos you are doing very well. But human nature doesn’t work that way. We compare ourselves to people around us
So when you compare yourself to others around us this is when the line between confidence & self-delusion manifests. Look around. You might be better off than others…others you are not. You might have more money than others, while others you are not.
Inflation of Self-Esteem
A perfect example would be financial success. If you make $60,000 a year as a 40-year-old, you are certainly more successful than a good swath of America, and certainly most of the world. But you are below many middle-class and upper-middle-class Americans.
Should you feel down that you aren’t as successful as these people or should you feel good that you are better than the Sherpa in Nepal? In the line between confidence & self-delusion, it may be blurred. Are you delusional to think you are successful in America at $60,000/year or should you be confident? If the latter, are you more predisposed to become complacent?
In the realm of dating apps you certainly see the line between confidence & self-delusion extremely evident. Women want men who make money and possess high status; men want beauty and youth. If you possess these qualities, you have ample external indicators reminding you so. It makes it easy to be confident. If you don’t possess them, you are reminded on these sites by lack of responses or matches. Learn more about deceiving dating practices by clicking HERE.
But self-delusion can certainly creep in. And rationalizing as well. Women are notorious with this phenomenon vis-à-vis dating. Most women think they high much higher sexual market value (SMV) than they really do. A perimenopausal 80 pound overweight women think they are a 7 on a 1-10 scale. They rationalize they deserve a high SMV Alpha male and when these men ignore them, they lament “there are no good men left.” See the line between confidence & self-delusion veer toward self-delusion? Watch this clip on YouTube to see true SMV based on sex and age.
One way to know if you have an accurate assessment of your talents, looks, skills, etc. is to ask your friends. The issue with this assessment is whether or not they will give you an honest assessment. If you ask a friend “Hey, am I a nice person?” or “Am I good looking?” they are likely going to inflate their answer. Same for family.
Now when it comes to your looks, dating apps will indubitably give you an accurate depiction. If you aren’t getting messages or people are not messaging you back, you know why.
Making friends is similar. If you ask new people to hang out and they always make excuses, they probably are giving you a realistic feedback that your SMV or friend value is low.
Discussing the line between confidence & self-delusion may be difficult for you. We want to think we are more attractive, more successful, and more ethical than we really are. It is daunting to have a more realistic view. But simultaneously we don’t want to live in self-delusion. Isn’t it better to have an accurate portrayal? That way you know where you need to improve.