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Originally posted on April 9th, 2010

Just finished reading Everyman by Philip Roth. Good story, great writing. This quote, even though the gender roles are reversed in my case, rang fantastically true:

“You can weather anything,” Phoebe was telling him, “even if the trust is violated, if it’s owned up to. Then you become life partners in a different way, but it’s still possible to remain partners. But lying–lying is cheap, contemptible control over the other person. It’s watching the other person acting on incomplete information–in other words, humiliating herself. Lying is so commonplace and yet, if you’re on the receiving end, it’s such an astonishing thing. The people you liars are betraying put up with a growing list of insults until you really can’t help but think less of them, can you? I’m sure that liars as skillful and persistent and devious as you reach the point where it’s the one you’re lying to, and not you, who seems like the one with the serious limitations. You probably don’t even think you’re lying–you think of it as an act of kindness to spare the feelings of your poor sexless mate. You probably think your lying is in the nature of a virtue, an act of generosity toward the dumb cluck who loves you. Or maybe it’s just what it is–a fucking lie, one fucking lie after another.”

Today’s reflection
My views on this since that time have changed. I don’t see the lying I was subjected to when it came to the affair as the direct assault that I did at the time and for years after. That change in viewpoint came about as a result of this insight: “The only enemy to have ever existed is an internal one.” I can understand why my ex lied now and it really was more about protecting herself than harming me. That small shift in perspective makes it so much easier to let go of anger and resentment. From her point of view, she stalled on asking for a divorce for several reasons – she didn’t want to break up the family, she didn’t want to hurt me, and she was worried that I would react angrily.

At that point in my life, she was right to be worried. I can see now how my own ego caused my anger to be directed outwards to deflect attention from my personal shortcomings. I certainly wasn’t at fault for the things that I was disappointed about or frustrated with, or so my ego led me to believe.

As the credits run at the end of the movie Revolver, several psychologists and psychiatrists speak about the ego. Looking at the quote above now, after having come to a greater understanding of how my own brain works, I can see now who was telling the biggest lies in my life and how a radical shift in my perception, combined with just a bit more knowledge, has changed the way I look at myself and the world around me. Lying will still be a violation of trust, but it won’t ever again have the kind of control over me that Roth describes above.

“The ego is the worst confidence trickster we could ever figure, we could ever imagine. Because you don’t see it…”
Dr. Yoav Dattilo, Ph.D.

“And the single biggest con is that, ‘I am you.’”
Dr. Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D.

“The problem, is that the ego hides in the last place you’d ever look, within itself.”
Dr. Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA

“It disguises it’s thoughts as your thoughts, it’s feelings with your feelings, you think it’s you.”
Leonard Jacobson

“People’s need to protect their own ego knows no bounds, they will lie, cheat, steal, kill, do whatever it takes to maintain what we call, ego boundaries.”
Andrew Samuels, Ph.D.

“People have no clue that they’re in prison, they don’t know that there is an ego, they don’t know the distinction.”
Leonard Jacobson

“At first it’s difficult for the mind to accept that there’s something beyond itself, that there’s something of greater value and of greater capacity for discerning truth than itself.”
Dr. David Hawkins M.D., Ph.D.

“In religion the ego manifests as the devil, and of course no one realizes how smart the ego is because it created the devil so you could blame someone else.”
Dr. Deepak Chopra M.D.

“In creating this imaginary external enemy we usually made a real enemy for ourselves and that becomes a real danger to the ego but it’s also the ego’s creation.”
Dr. Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA

“There is no such thing as an external enemy, no matter what that voice in your head is telling you. All perception of an enemy is a projection of the ego as the enemy.”
Dr. Deepak Chopra M.D.

“In that sense, you can say that 100% of our external enemies are of our own creation.”
Dr. Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA

“Your greatest enemy is your own inner perception, your own ignorance, is your own ego.”
Dr. Obadiah S. Harris, Ph.D.