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Do You Play Hide-and-Seek with Yourself?

Child hiding in hie-and-seek showing how we hide from ourselves.

One of my favorite childhood games was Hide-and-Seek. I’m not sure why it was my favorite because I was usually the first one caught and usually had trouble finding the other kids. If you were one of the few who may have been deprived of the opportunity to play Hide-and-Seek, allow me to describe how it works.

Designating a "Safe Home Base"

The game has been played by children for decades around the world in various forms. In general, one player closes his or her eyes for a short period counting to 100, or whatever time players choose, while the other players hide. When time is up, the child who is the seeker opens his or her eyes and looks for the hiders. When the first hider is found, that child becomes the next seeker. Players often designate a “safe home base” they touch to offset the seeker’s advances.

How do we play hide-and-seek with ourselves?

If you conducted a “man-on-the-street” interview, you would find few people who would admit to not knowing themselves very well. Our hubris tells us, “Sure you know all about yourself.” And no doubt, most of us do know a great deal about ourselves. However, there is a “safe home base” in each of us where we hide from ourselves as we try to neutralize discomfort and painful thoughts about ourselves.

Escaping to the “Safe Home Base”

We consciously or unconsciously take diversionary actions to deceive ourselves as we redirect our thinking and that of others, ignoring our faults and areas in which need to improve and make changes to experience personal and professional growth and success.

For example, if someone is rightly accusing us of something, we may shift blame to another person. Or, we might make excuses for our behavior. Another tactic often used is minimizing one’s behavior.

We are even capable of combining all three. “I was late because the weather was bad and my wife forgot to set the alarm. Besides, is it really a big deal that I was late for the meeting?”

These statements may be totally or partially true, but the reality may also be you rolled over and turned off the alarm, something you often do and a bad habit you should address.

Negative Consequences

The above scenario seems innocuous enough. But if the person in question keeps making excuses, shifting blame and minimizing his behavior which causes him to be late all the time, there will eventually be negative consequences. He will lose his job or perhaps be passed over for a promotion.

Furthermore, he is missing an opportunity for growth. Time is a precious commodity. His failure to correct this behavior could be stunting his personal and professional growth. Once he identifies where his “safe home base” is, rolling over for those extra 30 minutes of sleep and deceiving himself about the consequences, he gives himself a chance to grow.

Activity to Help Find Where You Are Hiding

Take out a sheet of paper and make three columns.

  • In the first column, list all the positive things about you. No sweat here. None of us should have trouble thinking of our positive qualities, God-given abilities, and learned skills.

  • Conversely, in the second column, list your negative qualities, shortcomings, and weaknesses.

  • Fill in the third column. Now it gets harder, even a bit painful. In the third column, list things you might not know or want to know about yourself. You may have to really dig deep to discover things about which you may be deceiving yourself. You may have to look into your “safe home base.” Use the above scenario as a thought-starter.

Finally, what do you think about what you listed in the third column? Does it surprise you? What steps can you take to be more honest with yourself and others, and grow as you adjust the way you think?

Listen to God's Words

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”

Romans 7:15-24

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

Also Read: Jeremiah 17:9, James 1:5

In the Words of Others

“If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion.” Aldous Huxley

“Knowledge of self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know myself, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties and its very atoms.” Kahlil Gibran

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