“Self-Consciousness is the enemy of interestingness" a lovely quote by Malcolm Gladwell... Not just the enemy of interestingness but basic integrity... We, human beings, are known to fudge facts on varying proportions when something affects our self-image.
It is very easy to put this theory to test. Walk up to an image conscious person who is obese /on the heavier side and give him a lecture on diet, food habits and exercise.
In just 30 sec into the discussion, you will see his self defense mechanism in full action. He will claim to have adopted the healthiest diet for the last one week and you will hear healthy food items like low calorie cereals, carrot, greens. When it comes to the exercise you will hear tall claims like regular visits to the gym, 7 km on treadmill, regular walks and what not… These tall claims quickly expose the person because it is easy to judge the truth in the statement based on the body language.
Honestly, I believe that the person who fabricates this story is not fully aware that he is fudging facts... When self-image is put to test even the smallest of the efforts in the right direction (visit to them gym once in 5 days) gets represented to gargantuan proportions in the mind and it appears as if the person is very sincere in his fitness regimen. The self defense mechanism is in full action because:
1. It wants to protect the self-image at any cost.
2. Pacify the mind that things are under control
3. Stop the other person from any further advice.
Best way to handle this to first realize that white lies will get exposed quickly. Instead of protecting self-image for today/everyday, it’s better to realize that protecting self-image at the cost of action/activity is futile...