Sunday, November 25, 2012

Believing Your Own Lies

We all know that there are people who lie. But there are also people who lie to themselves and who seem to believe themselves.

Are people actually able to convince themselves of their own lies?
Do some people really talk themselves into believing their imaginary stories? Do they even realise anymore that they are lying?
This is a phenomenon that I could often observe with regard to certain people. A person that called me a few days ago told me about what a colleague of hers has done and that she thinks it is terrible. What is remarkable is that this person had done the same thing in an even worse extent over a long period of time. I didn’t know what to say. After all, she should have known I remember what she had done, so normally she wouldn’t mention similar behaviours of others in order to not draw attention to it. The only explanation is that she decided to pretend it never happened and not just in front of others but for herself.
It seems to me that some people actually succeed in talking themselves into believing that their own false behaviour never happened. It is astonishing what humans are capable of. I was aware of the fact that this person tells a lot of lies and tries to convince others of them but so far I have never realised she does actually believe them herself. This does explain some things, it makes me understand things I have never understood before.
What I am not sure about though is whether this is a sign of some serious mental disorder or whether we all do that to a certain extent.
I think sometimes people try to repress bad memories, which is perfectly understandable in some cases. However, is it still normal to behave like any false behaviour on your side  has never existed and to actually believe it?
What is even more extreme is that there are people who build up a whole world of lies. In school, one of my friends told me about a classmate that had made up his own successful band, lots of friends and a girlfriend and that he openly talked about them all the time and that apparently he told everyone how popular, rich and good-looking they all were, in addition to a lot of other rather unbelievable stories. I believe that you shouldn’t judge someone without even knowing him, so I told my friend that it might indeed be only due to unfavourable circumstances that no one had ever seen these friends, band, or girlfriend. However, I got to meet that person and at some point it became impossible to deny that something was obviously wrong with his stories (this is an understatement). No one was sure whether he believed in his own lies. In my opinion, at some point he had started to believe that his stories were true.
e has built up his own imaginary world. 

Sometimes we talk ourselves into believing certain things because we want them to be true.
Some children even have imaginary friends and you wouldn’t consider that as lying.
But where is the cross point between lying and having your own view of the world? If you believe your own lies, are you telling the truth? There is this quote that I mentioned in a post in the beginning of my blogging days: Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Don’t we all have our own views and opinions about who we are and how the world looks like? And if we don’t actively think about it, we think that this is how the world actually looks like. But what if it does in fact look completely different for everyone else? And I am sure it does.
So do we actually all live in our own imaginary world?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why do we believe in certain values?

Last week, one of our professors told us about the result of a survey that showed that 47% of Americans agreed with the following statement: It is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.

I do not know about the reliability of this survey, but I think it is a quite interesting question: Is it necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values?
In my opinion, an individual does definitely not have to believe in God to have good values.
However, I happened to read another statement that describes a scenario in which no one believes in God and such a thing as religion does not exist. What this person says is that without God (or people believing in God), there would also be no morals and no good values because people would not believe in a higher judgement after death. But is this really true? (Note that this is not a discussion about whether a God exists; this is rather about what would happen if people didn’t believe in his existence, if there didn’t exist any religion at all.) I believe that even if nowadays there were no one to believe in God, good values would still remain. But what if religions would never have existed? Do our values and morals really exist because of the existence of certain religions? But who does really believe in the existence of hell nowadays? If people do believe in God and therefore believe in good values, do they really do that because they fear punishment? Isn’t it rather because they believe in a good or loving god?
Assuming that morals are not the origin of religion, why do we believe in them? Why do we think certain things are immoral? Who decides what is immoral? Don’t there have to be some given rules that someone specifies? What are “good values” anyway?
Is it all a concept of treating others the way you would like to be treated yourself?
The truth is, usually being selfish and ruthless is the best way to be successful in certain things in life. My brother has always been indicative of this fact. He always lied, never cared about anyone but himself, wouldn’t even think about helping another person and there he is with plenty of friends, money and time, and girls running after him. Yet I honestly don’t know how he can even sleep at night, knowing about all the things he has done.
My brother definitely doesn’t believe in some values that are generally thought to be good. But what if he has his own values? There has to be someone who decides what is good.
So, if not acting according to certain values like honesty and kindness makes us successful and if we don’t fear hell after life, what makes us still believe in them?
I think there are many influences that affect our values, maybe some of those are defined by religion, some certainly by our culture (in my opinion, this has a huge influence on a lot of people and there are clearly different values in different cultures) and some by our close environment, like family. That is where we get to know about certain values, but what makes us really believe in these?
I truly believe in some values, I have mentioned some in several other posts, amongst them kindness and honesty. But I can’t explain the reasons. I believe they are good and right and in my heart I know they are, but it is difficult to explain why.
What are some values you believe in? And why are they important for you?

I would love to hear some opinions to any or all of the questions.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Who would you be?

Everyone has a role model. Who is yours? Who was your role model when you were a child?
If you could be anyone, who would you be?

Every now and then I read questions like these. Every time I think about it, but I don’t have an answer. I think the first role model for little children are their parents. But then comes the time when you realize they are not inerrable. So most children then choose some celebrity as their role model. They have posters hanging in their bedrooms and want to be like them.
I never really had that. In fact, I have never really understood the wish to be like some celebrity.
The point is, people admire them for a certain role they play in a movie or for something they achieve in sports, for example. It is comprehensible that they would like to emulate them in these actions. But, and this is what I have always considered, they don’t know who these people really are. How can you know about their personality? How can you know what they had or have to suffer in their lives? You don’t know who they really are. You only know a little excerpt of their lives. So why do you want to be exactly like them? Furthermore, they are not perfect.  They can’t be because no one is. So I don’t see a point in wishing to be someone else.
Whenever someone asks me who I would like to be if I could choose anyone, I don’t have an answer, at least I can’t think of any specific persons. There are certainly a lot of things I can learn from other people and a lot of things I would like to adopt from others. And surely my life is everything but perfect. But I am who I am. So all I can do is try to improve who I already am instead of wanting to be someone else.
However, I do consider it as reasonable to try to follow certain actions, behaviours or features. It makes sense to admire these. 
When you admire someone for being a good person, it certainly is a good idea to try to be that too, in your own way. If you admire someone for being a good writer, you can try to be become an equally good writer. But you have to try to find your own style.

Nevertheless, I was wondering whether it is even possible not to have any role models. Does everyone have one without even noticing? Do we have many?
ren’t there always people we imitate? How else would we learn anything? Or do we invent every action new for ourselves?  

Anyway, I do think people in our environment can have a huge impact on us.
I was sometimes surprised by the influence one's friends can have on one's behaviour. My brother used to have a very changing circle of friends. Every time he had new friends, his taste in music changed (it was easy to say, you could hear it everywhere in the house) and every time he adopted their vocabulary or behaviour. For instance, when he had friends who smoked and drank a lot, he did that too.
This makes we wonder, are we all just a copy of our environment?
Obviously, one’s environment and especially friends can have a huge impact on one’s behaviour. So are we just lucky to have a “good” circle of friends? But then again, don’t we choose our friends?
Did you adapt yourself to become more like your friends, perhaps without even noticing?
Maybe the question should rather be Who are you? instead of Who would you be?

Coming back to the initial question, I always tried to find my own way.
I am not sure whether that is even possible or whether it is just an illusion and actually we are all just a mixture of all the people we meet. After all, I don’t invent any new behaviour, do I? But maybe we can decide which ingredients from which people we choose and consequently become the best result we can.
Certainly there are always people who influence us, our personality, our behaviour. I think it is good or even necessary to have people who inspire us. But in the end, you are an individual and you should make the best out of who you are instead of copying someone else.

Are there any people that inspire you?

Do you have a role model? Do you even want to be someone else?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Whose fault is it?

Lately, I have been thinking about victims and offenders in certain situations. Don't we all rather like to see ourselves as victims? It is so much easier to blame someone else for things that go wrong in our lives. 

I mentioned this in several posts, I have never had a good relationship to my parents or to my brother, due to things happening that I have no words for.

There is this idea that in some cases it is not only the offender’s but also the victim’s fault because the victim lets it happen and doesn’t defend himself.
Let me explain. When I was a little child, I was rather shy. Actually that is an understatement.  I was very shy, I almost never talked to strangers, and in particular I avoided talking to adults. I think I was afraid of doing something wrong. I was also a compliant child, I did everything my parents asked me to do, although apparently often doing it wrong in their eyes.
My brother, in contrast, was quite revolting and whenever he didn’t get what he wanted, he created terror. Besides, he had a talent in lying and ingratiating himself with others, especially with our mother. As a result, it didn't matter much how I felt about certain decisions, which was kind of my own fault.
For instance, there were these humiliating situations my brother liked to spit on me, literally, just because he thought it was fun, or because he knew I didn't like it, or without any reason at all. My parents decided I had to endure this because they didn’t want to have troubles with him and I, on the other hand, didn’t cause so much trouble, so it was easier that way.
This was only a little prelude to things he later committed.
However, I remember exactly this one moment when again my mother decided it wouldn’t matter what I wanted because my brother wanted something else and all of a sudden my father said: Why does she always have to back down? This was the moment I decided he was right and I began to express my own opinions and to disagree with my mother. As a consequence, our relationship became even worse with every year that passed.
Anyway, I never really defended myself much when I was young, so I made it easy for my parents and my brother to take advantage of that. On the other hand, I was just a little child and all I tried to do was to make my parents love me or be proud of me.
But shouldn’t my parents have known better?
One thing that I also considered is, what if my brother was made the way he is now? Is it even his fault? Are maybe my parents responsible for the way he behaves? Was he taught to behave ruthless?
I consider that possible. Nonetheless, even though he might not have had the right education, he should know some basic things, he should know things like sexual abuse are wrong. Or can he have lost the ability to feel someone else's pain?

If someone was raised thinking that he can just take anything he wants without any consequences, is it his fault when he continues thinking that way once he is an adult?
It almost seems as if he is a victim.

So whose fault is it really? Who is to blame?
Is it the one who does something wrong? The ones that didn’t teach that person what is wrong? Or is it the one who didn’t defend himself or herself enough?

In my opinion, you can’t just make someone else responsible for your own decisions. Even if it might partly be my parents’ fault, even if they partially made my brother the way he is, you cannot blame them for everything he does. I mean, wouldn’t that result in going backwards more and more? What if my parents were treated badly as children? Was it then their parents’ fault?
At some point, you are responsible for your own actions and you cannot blame someone else for committing a crime. At some point, you just have to decide to leave the vicious circle, you have to know about your responsibility for your own actions. A difficult childhood is so often used as an excuse for behaving badly. In my opinion, it might sometimes explain some behaviors, but it doesn’t excuse them.  
Finally, at some point and in some cases, it might also be important to stop whining about your victimhood and start seeing yourself as an independent being.