You Must Not Fool Yourself!


“The purpose of our lives is to give birth to the best which is within us.” – Marianne Williamson

And what’s best in us, I believe, is our humanity, compassion, capacity to get outside of ourselves and truly try to understand another.  What’s best in us is our conscience–a healthy conscience.  What’s best in us is our honesty–the courage it takes to be that raw and honest with ourselves.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman

This is the first principle of personal growth and self-awareness and the examined life–ceasing to deceive/hoodwink ourselves. Until we have learned to be honest like this with ourselves, we will never be capable of being truly honest with another, and we will never reach the ground of our authentic or core self.  The first principle in real growth is this degree of fierce honesty with oneself–not just what we’re feeling or what we want, but why we want what we want and why we’re likely feeling what we’re feeling.

Until we have some durable sense of this, we’re asleep.  We’re fooling ourselves, and we’re fooling others with our self–with our false self.  We’re fooling ourselves most of all with our false self.

It’s quite an unpleasant dilemma to be in–to be so adept at fooling oneself that one can’t be sure when one isn’t fooling oneself.

The truth we most need to hear is the truth we least want to hear and face.  Yet that’s the truth that will most help us to grow.  In fact, being able to sit still long enough to actually hear that truth at all would marks a significant bit of growth.

Marianne Williamson on “Facing Oneself”—Real Warriorship 101


As anyone who has ever been in serious psychotherapy is well aware, the process of personal growth isn’t always easy. We must face our own ugliness. . . . You end up seeing things about yourself that maybe you’d rather not see.  We have a lot of armor that has accumulated in front of our hearts—a lot of fear self-righteously masquerading as something else. . . . [And usually] [w]e . . . must become painfully aware of the unworkability of a pattern before we’re willing to give it up. It often seems, in fact, that our lives get worse rather than better when we begin to work deeply on ourselves. [But] life doesn’t actually get worse; it’s just that we feel our own transgressions more because we’re no longer anesthetized by unconsciousness. We’re no longer distanced through denial or dissociation from our own experience. We’re starting to see the truth about the games we play.

This process can be so painful that we are tempted to go backwards. It takes courage. This is often called the path of the spiritual warrior—to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.

Marianne Williamson, “A Return to Love,” pp. 132-133