“The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have
a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. ”
– Cheryl Hughes
This week saw champion cyclist Lance Armstrong stripped of his 7 Tour de France victories for the part he apparently played in a doping conspiracy. I was interviewed by Sky TV News to give an insight into the psychology behind cheating. I explained that whether it’s on the cycling track, in the boardroom or in the bedroom, there are only 3 underlying reasons people cheat:
Reason Number 1: Lack of security
The driver behind all cheating is insecurity. The cheat thinks their happiness, security and wellbeing is dependant an external factor, such as money, position, recognition or a lover. While this can also be a driver for many people who don’t cheat, the craving for external sources of security is so strong in the cheat that they’ll go to any length to meet that need. The most well-balanced people are looking inside themselves for security, wellbeing and validation; as a result, cheating doesn’t make sense to them.
Reason Number 2: Lack of clarity
The person who cheats is lacking clarity; they’re lost in a maze of junk-thought, and out of touch with their wisdom and common sense. Taken to an extreme, this kind of muddle-headed thinking can be used to justify even the most appalling behaviours. When a person’s head is clear, and they’re in touch with their inner sense of wellbeing, it’s obvious to them that there’s no justification for cheating.
Reason Number 3: Lack of understanding
Behind insecurity and lack of clarity is a misunderstanding; it often looks like our feelings of security, validation and success come from outside of us, but it’s an inside-job. Well-balanced individuals intuitively know this, and live with integrity and common sense. People who don’t realise the inside-out nature of experience are constantly looking outside of themselves, trying to find the resilience and recognition they crave. One of the ways this misunderstanding shows up is in cheating. Another way it appears is in the “lows” often experienced by peak performers when they win the top achievement in their field. If they’ve been looking outside themselves for their wellbeing, they often “crash and burn” in the years following their peak, falling into addiction and other life-damaging behaviours (Eg. Mike Tyson, Ricky Hatton). The champions who intuitively understand the inside-out nature of life go on from their peak to succeed in new careers and new ventures. The key is an understanding of CLARITY.
What I call the “outside-in misunderstanding” (the source of all junk-thought) is a superstition, a mistaken theory about how life works. History is littered with these superstitions and misunderstandings, so there’s no reason we should think ourselves immune to them because just we’re “modern”. The outside-in misunderstanding isn’t just the cause of cheating; it’s also behind most of the other problems people experience. Bullying, discrimination, stress, lack of confidence, procrastination; they’re all the result of the same misunderstanding. But as people start understanding the nature of CLARITY, their heads clear and the problems start to fade.
The great news is that it’s just that; a misunderstanding. We’ve seen through many of the big misunderstandings of the past (earth-centred universe, miasma theory, black magic, flat earth) and the result has been a huge increase in the quality of life for millions. Many of the benefits we enjoy today are the result of seeing through these misunderstandings (air travel, modern medicine, satellite technology).
I’m filled with hope and wonder at the thought of what will become possible for us as a society as we begin to see through this misunderstanding and wake up to our full potential as individuals, and as a species. I’d love to know what you think about this (and to answer any questions you may have) so please post your comments below. Thanks! J