Self-delusion gets us out of bed

MICHELE A'COURT
Last updated 05:00 04/06/2014

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Michele A'Court

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OPINION: I love that beginning-of-the-day version of ourselves we carry round in our head. 

Sometimes, sufficient self-delusion is all that gets you out of bed in the morning.

"You can do it," we tell ourselves over that first heart-starting coffee, eyes barely open, as we prepare to carpe the diem.

I love that beginning-of-the-day version of ourselves we carry round in our head, the one closest to the original who still believes anything is possible, that she is 18 and immortal. The version of yourself that might look at a cat on a poster saying "Believe" and think, "I so do".

This is why I am not a fan of having too many mirrors in the house. You need a strong bowl of muesli and some lipstick before you want to challenge your internal self-image with anything accurate.

It is impressive, the way we delude ourselves. I, for example, think I am the same height as everyone else. This is despite knowing my actual height - it is printed in my passport - and having spent a lifetime being referred to as "Shorty" and "Titch".

Even so, the first time I saw a school photo in which I was standing (rather than sitting in the front row with the other half-pints) I assumed the reason my head was below the level of everyone else's shoulder was because I must have been standing in a hole.

I continue to be shocked. Yesterday, at an airport lounge, I had to ask a nice man to reach a wine glass down for me from the self-service bar. "If you're too small to reach it," he suggested jovially, "maybe you're too small to drink it". I admired his sass. He kept my glass full all afternoon.

I don't feel short. Except that I do. I know the only time I can sit on a chair and have my feet flat on the floor is when I'm visiting a kindergarten.

There are high cupboards in my house that remain empty because they are only good for storing things I would never need to reach. My shoulders ache after chopping vegetables because our kitchen bench is higher than my navel and I have to work with my elbows up round my ears.

But bear in mind that self-delusion strongly held is powerful. My husband knows I am short but appears to be unclear about how much. "I met that dude from TV," he'll say, "and he's tiny - he'd be shorter than you". Which would, I say patiently, make him a midget, given I am only 7cm taller than the tallest allowable dwarf. Unlikely, I say, but very sweet of you to think so.

Not just him. Apparently, I come across as being about 172cm so people are frequently surprised when they stand next to me in a bar and suddenly realise they could handily rest their beer on my head. If I had a dollar for every time that had been remarked on, I would shout the next round.

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I'm not saying that if you can dream it, you can be it. But if you believe it hard enough, they'll join in.

- Canterbury

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