This Researcher Says Being a Hypocrite Might Be Good for You (And Why You Should Embrace It)

Have you ever heard of the saying, “She’s comfortable in her skin?” It’s a great metaphor to convey the importance of embracing all aspects of one’s personality.

To be comfortable in your skin requires that you embrace your personality’s light and dark side without regret.

Today, we will address what many consider the dark side.

Many people shy away from this side of themselves.

Jack Nicholson’s famous line in the movie, “A Few Good Men,” suggests that, “You can’t handle the truth.”

In other words, you are a living, breathing contradiction. Not because you are intentionally hypocritical, but because parts of your personality are fixed, and the changes in your environment necessitate you being adaptable.

And the inconvenient truth is that society has moved from a civil, trustworthy environment to a conditional and transactional exchange between humans.

Hypocrisy negatively impacts civil and fair dealing relationships, which makes creating a more transactional atmosphere necessary.

It is a foregone conclusion that we are a combination of our genetic makeup and our environmental influences. The “Nature vs. Nurture” argument still persists today.

English naturalist Charles Darwin developed the idea of natural selection, which posits that populations of living organisms adapt and change over time. Individuals who are most adaptable within an environment will survive, while those least flexible will die out.

Being a Hypocrite

So, what’s the difference between being open to change versus being hypocritical?

The short answer is your “baseline.”

Dr. Jill Suttie, staff writer and contributing editor for Greater Good Magazine, said:

When I was 16 years old, I was a pretty outgoing teen with lots of friends and a busy social calendar. I took my academics seriously and was diligent about doing homework. But I also tended to worry a lot and could cry at the drop of a hat.

Now here I am more than 50 years later, and, in many ways, I seem much the same: extraverted and conscientious, but a bit neurotic. Does that mean that my personality hasn’t changed over the last half-century?

Dr. Suttie suggested that our personality has a baseline that persists throughout our life.

Still, aspects of our nature may change as we mature with more experiences.

Someone who starts out opportunistic or extremely ambitious may adopt a Machiavellian philosophy of doing what is necessary for affecting a specific outcome devoid of moral considerations.

Such a person may be amoral versus immoral. Everything is fair game as long as it doesn’t break any laws.

This person’s doctrine is derived from laws and statutes.

In this regard, this person may view the world in economic terms where relationships are fundamentally transactional. If you approach this individual with your own set of mores and values, you may be disappointed.

The best way to ensure alignment and consensus is to create written contracts or Memorandum of Agreements.

Therefore, there are no misunderstandings or misalignment within the conditions of an arrangement.

And more importantly, the idea of any breach of an agreement comes with legal consequences and repercussions.

Any agreement that does not have an enforcement component is left up to the goodwill of the participants.

Unfortunately, goodwill can change based on the self-interest of the parties.

Who cares about double standards?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a double standard as “A set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another.”

If you attempted to start a mission to eradicate the double standards in society, you would be met with the same vitriol reminiscent of a religious war.

Often, people don’t mind double standards when they are not at their behest.

In other words, double standards are acceptable unless you are denied opportunities because of their existence.

I will be the first to admit that I want to enjoy the same benefits and equal treatment as anyone else in the workplace when I am doing the same work.

However, I want to adhere to some of the traditions that benefit me in my personal life. I like doors being opened for me and escorted to my car.

If I believed in total equality, my professional aspirations would mirror my personal expectations.

I realize that I am a beneficiary of a double standard, and I embrace it.

Why should you embrace hypocrisy?

In a nutshell, hypocrisy is at the core of human nature. Our baseline is to get along to avoid conflict, but we can’t get away from self-preservation and self-interest.

I can recall agreeing to do something for a friend and having to change plans at the last moment. This was off-putting to my friend because I had decided to be there for her the previous week after she obliged me a favor.

Had I forgotten my initial promise to reciprocate if she ever needed me?

No, I merely opted to do something that provided greater pleasure. I asked another friend to do the favor for me so as not to leave my friend in dire straits. But she still looked at me with disappointment because I didn’t do her a favor myself.

In my younger years, I would have beaten myself up about my hypocrisy. Now, I embrace hypocrisy as part of my humanness. If I change plans but still uphold my obligations, I have not deprived anyone of my commitment.

They still got what they wanted.

Additionally, I never claim to be anything other than myself (mostly honest with a twinge of hypocrisy). Once you claim to be religious, a pious leader, or an upright politician, you should be judged by that creed.

I would never adopt such hubris.

I can be trusted to abide by 90% of my promises. I give myself a 10% margin of error when it comes to being consistent. You would be surprised by how many people beat themselves up about the 10% because they want to be perfectly agreeable.

After I allowed myself that 10% shortcoming (probably higher), my life became freer. I would have strove for 100% consistency in my earlier years, even when it caused me harm or severe discomfort.

I embrace economist Dr. Thomas Sowell’s notion that there are no perfect solutions in life, only trade-offs.

In the past, I traded my good word for my mental wellness.

Was I correct?

Who knows?

No one is coming to save me. So, I have to save myself.

—Helen Dolan

References

Natural Selection (n.d.). National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3AGdgQ2.

Suttie, J. (2018, Oct. 15). Can your personality change over your lifetime? Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3ALvYG5.

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