“Stop Trusting Yourself.”
Not exactly the link you want to get from your mother…
Turns out we are no more trustworthy than the next guy.
The Times posits that we are incapable of setting aside our current moods and feelings when thinking about our future behavior. If we are dedicated to weight loss today, we imagine our future self will share our commitment. If we are feeling motivated we imagine ourselves equally productive in the future.
The upside of this mental glitch is our ability to continue to collaborate with our future selves. We imagine we will share our own values and goals. Although we don’t frequently follow through with our agreements with ourselves, we continue to work together, erasing our past transgressions so we can try again with confidence.
Perhaps 20 years of therapy has kept me from overestimating the future me. I know she is a quitter. I know she can’t be trusted. Maybe this is the downside of self awareness. Maybe there is something to our ability to re-write our own history. To see ourselves in the best possible light.
The article features a study where participants were told that a coin flip would determine whether or not the received an onerous task or a rewarding one. Ahead of time every participant renounced cheating. When left along to flip the coin 90% of people fixed to outcome to receive the preferable task. In the follow up interview they were still against cheating, despite the majority of the them having cheated themselves.
The article assumed the participants were whitewashing their behavior and lying to themselves. I’m not sure how they controlled for the fact that they were simply lying to the researchers. Whichever it was people seem to see the best in themselves, despite facts to the contrary.
White wash, rose colored…or just blue.
Which are you?