November 9, 2021
Reflections – Decisions! pt.3 – Self-Honesty
Self-honesty is important. In his book, Better Decisions – Fewer Regrets, Andy Stanley offers five questions to ask ourselves when we encounter a situation that doesn’t quite feel right. The first of these has to do with self-honesty, i.e. “Am I being honest with myself, really?” Stanley emphasizes that “The easiest person to deceive is the person in the mirror. It shouldn’t be this way but it is.” When it comes to good decision-making, we meet our greatest challenge every morning in the mirror. In making choices (our personal decision-making process) we have an immense propensity to convince ourselves that what we want is what we should have. We are all victims of what the experts call “confirmation bias”.
This is the tendency to look for information or arguments (or Bible verses) that support what we already believe and reasons that support what we are already inclined to do. If we want something really bad enough the “stars” will magically align to encourage that choice. In hindsight, we invariably regret decisions that are based too strongly on confirmation bias.
Here are three areas in decision-making that are said to cause the most regret:
- PURCHASES “I really need/deserve/want that.”
- RELATIONSHIPS “He/she has some flaws, but I can change him/her.”
- DESTRUCTIVE HABITS “It’s probably not good for me, but oh well.”
We make dumb purchases after convincing ourselves that we can afford or deserve an item. We choose to hang out with people who have major flaws, but our confirmation bias encourages us to overlook them. We continue to repeat destructive behaviors. And we lie ourselves into situation after situation. Lie, like in not being honest with the one in the mirror! And, note that these faulty choices have a cumulative effect on our life. They are not good for the long run!
Throughout our lives, we will be forced to make decisions we don’t really want to make. All of them will be made in some sort of emotional context. There are no emotionally neutral decision-making environments. Because of that, we will be prone to opt for happy now over healthy later. Pleasure over self-control. Because our hearts are deceitful and because of confirmation bias, we will be prone to talk ourselves into things we will regret later. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to continue to be that way. Self-honesty is important.
The Destructive Cycle
There’s a way out of that destructive cycle. Start being brutally honest with yourself. Quit lying to yourself. Refuse to make up reasons that are actually only justifications. When you catch yourself convincing yourself, just stop and say, “There I go again.” Pause to have a heart-to-heart chat with yourself by asking, “Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this, really?”
If you will do this “pause and question” routine, you will become better equipped to make better decisions and live with fewer regrets. After all, your decisions determine the direction and quality of your life as well as the lives of those you love.
Are you being honest with yourself?
Peace and Blessings,
Better Decisions – Fewer Regrets, Andy Stanley (Most of this Reflection has been lifted directly from Chapter 2, The Integrity Question.)
Disclaimer statement: Please note that the opinions expressed herein are those of the Chaplain alone and are based on his personal understanding of scripture and how God works in our lives.