Hypocrites…Do They Lack Emotional Understanding?

HypocrisyHypocrisy – the word we all abhor yet let it sink into our relationships. We live in denial, we invent our own definition and we turn our face the other side to convince ourselves…‘I am not a hypocrite!’

How rightly has Shannon L. Adler pointed out: “When you turn your back on hypocrisy and do nothing, you don’t change the hearts of others you change yours.”

Hypocrisy is probably as old as human race. There have always been double standards for males and females…the liberating effect has started showing in some parts of the globe but many more types of hypocrisies have crept in.

All cultures, regions and races have their own ways of looking at human behavior but basic conduct of mankind has been inherited. We tend to think highly of ourselves and consider others as inferior.
The effects of this kind of thinking can be read in the pages of history. Have you ever contemplated that racial prejudice, social injustice and various kinds of discrimination stem from hypocrisy?

Are you hypocritical? A quick check:

• Do you lie to save the situation?
• Do you feign to be good and generous?
• Do you step into the shoes of a virtuous person whenever the need arises?
• Do you say nice words just to please others?
• Do you condemn the behavior of others and overlook your weaknesses?
• Do you try to sit in judgment but hate those who try to do so?
• Can you respect and embrace a person you dislike?

Alas we live with many of these compulsions just to show our goodness!
We never judge ourselves with the same yardstick, as we tend to do others.
So if you are trying to answer correctly and the answer to even two questions is yes, you could be called hypocritical.

My earliest introduction to this term must have confused me, as I was too young to understand it. Now when I go back in time to recollect it, I can place those incidents as emotional hypocrisy. When I was told to wash the shoes of my brother and I questioned the discriminatory treatment, asking why doesn’t he wash mine, I was not given any satisfactory answer, I was beaten when I refused, mocked at, whereas my sibling smiled triumphantly.
I hated this kind of behavior and it must have left a deep scar on my psyche that’s why I have always been quick enough to see through hypocrisy.
Isn’t it ironical that we pick up hypocritical behavior from our homes?

Hypocrisy has got a respectable definition in modern times.

“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.” – Haim G. Ginott
Can there be a better definition of hypocrisy?

Trained to be hypocrites? We are taught to hide our true feelings, told to be polite even when others are rude, we learn to live with hypocrisy, know how to sham and wear different masks for different occasions. Ostentations become a part of our personality.

Hypocrisy quoteWe learn to lie with sincerity, we become silver-tongued to hide our true nature, we condemn a behavior that we most often indulge in, we expect love and respect whereas we may withhold the same, we are always eager to check the flaws of others whereas never pay any attention to our own imperfections.
Infidelity is the most eloquent example of hypocrisy. The same people who condemn infidelity indulge in it surreptitiously.

Yes, hypocrites have NO emotional understanding.
I don’t want to talk about political and religious hypocrisy due to the complexities attached to them and it is quite difficult to understand them.

Can we get rid of hypocrisy?

Many times I wonder whether such a deep-rooted behavior can be corrected. This is possible only if we are true to ourselves.
Isn’t it better if we ask how are you feeling today rather than discussing the weather?
Isn’t it healthier if we give some honest answers without calling our friend inquisitive and interfering?
Isn’t it essential to remove the mask of courtesy and dig deeper to know why your neighbor has not been seen outside his/her house lately?
Emotional setbacks need to be shared; friends ought to lend a sympathetic ear as one genuine relationship can become exemplary.

I am sure you have such people around you. Do you ever wonder why they put up a contrived behavior? Do you feel comfortable in their company? I would love to hear your views.
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Balroop Singh.


21 thoughts on “Hypocrites…Do They Lack Emotional Understanding?

  1. Hi Balroop,

    You are SO right in all that you wrote, and I was just nodding in agreement as I read through this post 🙂

    Don’t we live in a world full of hypocrites? Oh yes we do, and to a certain extent we all are hypocrites too, doing so many things, even if they are small ones, which we know we shouldn’t be doing. Yes, we put up another front or say things to please others even though when we don’t wish to, just because it’s courtesy or makes the other person happy. Where are we really being true to ourselves?

    You can make out a hypocrite when you start talking to such a person, at least I can within a few minutes, or perhaps as one matures and having seen so much of the world and meeting so many people, it’s easy now. But it wasn’t so when I was young too, and often I’d get taken in by the talks of such people too, just as young kids are.

    This is surely an interesting post and I’d love to come back to it and see all the other comments that come through – thanks for sharing this with us. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. Hi Harleena,

      I am so glad to note that you agree with my observations. The moment we realise that we too are indulging in some contrived behavior, we have the potential to check it and keep it within limits.

      Oh! yes, as youngsters we tend to believe every word of our friends and expect them to behave the way they promise…it must have happened a lot of times that I got hurt because of those false promises though they didn’t mean much but they were the profoundest lessons of life in understanding people.

      Modern hypocrisy of cultured people who talk so superficial in the name of not asking anything personal really peeves me! Then I feel that all kinds of people make us wiser and we can learn something from them too 🙂

      Thanks for your insight. Have a blessed week.

  2. Thank you for this erudite and engaging article Balroop. Hypocrisy is something I have looked at closely as regards the world of spirituality, and in fact wrote a piece on this subject very recently. [ http://wp.me/s4wkZJ-tartuffe ] Coincidentally, I named the article after one of Molière’s comic creations – ‘Tartuffe’ – and so your inclusion of one of his quotes struck a chord within me immediately.

    I am sorry to hear of your childhood experiences Balroop, and can quite understand how scars were left as a result. As ever though, bad news always comes bearing a gift, and in your case that gift was having a highly developed ability to detect hypocrisy in your adult life – something which no doubt has served you very well.

    With gratitude and respect.


    1. Hi Hariod,

      Just now I got the honor of reading your insightful and fantastic observations about ‘Tartuffe’, thanks for sharing the link, I would go back to read the long discussion. What struck me immediately is:
      “The privileged, as we all know, are immune from hypocrisy.”

      I have taught a few poems about hypocrisy and often discussed this topic with my students and I noted… though youngsters are so idealistic but as far as hypocrisy is concerned, they are really adept at concealing their emotions!
      Why and how do we pick up so called ‘virtue’ of the privileged is still an enigma to me!

      Thanks for the appreciation, much valued. Have a blessed week.

      1. “The privileged, as we all know, are immune from hypocrisy.”

        This was just a small attempt on my part at injecting a little ironic humour into the article Balroop. The privileged classes, and most visibly perhaps politicians, can often have a highly-honed style of concealing their hypocrisy. Once a half-decent intellect is combined with the social niceties that are always so carefully cultivated by the privately educated, then these privileged folk seem to think they have all the concealment strategies necessary to avoid having their hypocrisies revealed. They project themselves as if they were above even the slightest suggestion of double-speak, and yet often that is their stock in trade, their modus operandi.

        Thank you for taking the time to read the article Balroop and also for your kind words.

        All best wishes.


  3. Another deep topic, Balroop. Hypocrites are everywhere. I see it in the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ kind of attitude. Always judging someone leads to this hypocrisy as well. More compassion and understanding will cut back on hypocritical behaviors (IMHO). Very thought provoking and my brain is a little fuzzy today so hope this makes sense.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      (IMHO) is really interesting!! I didn’t know this is an abbreviation!
      Thanks for commenting despite fuzziness, I would request you to rest well and have a blessed week.

  4. As I read through these, I could just picture two to three people whom I would really like to share this post with! As much as I hate being around them, they are a part and parcel of my life in sucha way that I cannot escape from them. The very shy and no controversy person that I be always, I rarely wanto confront them regarding these, this article probably will be a subtle hint 😛 .. I don’t think they can really change, don’t they get used to behaving in such manner and wouldn’t it be too difficult to come out of the comfort zone! I wonder if they start acting non hypocritical the people around them may start thinking something’s wrong with them! hehe.

    1. Hi Rashmi,

      We all have such people around us and yes, we have to interact with them if they are family members or colleagues. Friends can still be avoided but to keep a colleague at arms length becomes quite challenging, at times but I have tried that too with some success, at the risk of being called arrogant – which I ignored to keep peace in my mind.

      It is quite difficult to change such people but if we confront them with truth and talk to them candidly, pointing out where and when we found them hypocritical, that might help. One needs a lot of guts to do that 🙂

      Thanks for sharing this post and I hope it helps your friends too in understanding that hypocrisy cannot be concealed!

  5. I didn’t realize until reading your article here that by saying nice words to please other people I indeed used to be a hypocrite. I am glad i changed my ways. Thank you Balroop for another thoughtful post to add to your quality collection here!

    1. Hi Christy,

      There is a difference between saying nice words, which are well deserved and those which are said just to please. I have seen many such people who give compliments just to flatter. I wonder whether those who receive can see through their tricks!

      Thanks for standing by and liking my post.

  6. Hi Balroop, Thank you for this write up and examining the background and reasons that people are hypocritical. I don’t know if I can write someone off as being a “hypocrite” I believe there are some people who are not living their truth and not being true to themselves and others. I think it’s a tendency and character flaw more than a personality.

    I can’t change that about people. I think what we can change is how we respond to them – with compassion, understanding and truth. People develop these tendencies not because they wanted to be this way but because of life circumstances, rocky backgrounds and learning unhealthy behaviors from those around them. Some people tend to be hypocritical because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of others which is not a bad thing in an of itself. They are just going about it the wrong way. I think there’s hope for them to change their ways and each of us can show them a different way of being.

    1. Hi Vishnu,

      That is an interesting perspective! If you don’t want to call such people ‘hypocrites’…what would you call them? I often wonder why are they untruthful and yes, once it becomes the accepted trait, it seems quite innocuous. Then it becomes their second nature!

      You are so right, we can be truthful and understanding, sometimes it reaches them. However, such behavior has become a norm and has crept into the very fabric of our society but as Abraham Lincoln said,”teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong….” we can continue to show that being different is equally rewarding.

      Thanks Vishnu, for expressing an honest viewpoint. I truly appreciate it.

      1. HI Balroop, it’s not that I disagree with you and your definition of hypocrites. I’m wondering what next and how do we better deal with them, other than shunning them from our lives? And trying to figure out why they are the way they are and if we could do anything to help them find their truth:) I think I posed more questions than answers but do thank you for discussing and looking at this interesting behavior.

  7. a great post loved reading it .
    but i think the part where the quick check says Do you say nice words just to please others? is vague and needs a better explanation cause it could be mistaken for ” people pleasing ” and that is a different story.
    again great post loved it.
    best wishes

    1. Hi Fais,

      Welcome to my blog! I am glad that you liked reading this post, not many people are comfortable with this word – hypocrisy. You are right, I have not gone into the details of those points listed in the bulleted text but the one that appears vague to you has been taken up in the discussion that follows. We may please people for various reasons but I have always failed to understand what is the need for that…again it is one’s own perspective. Some people are very comfortable with it but my point is that when it is done for personal gains or extracting favors, it amounts to hypocrisy.

      Thanks for your insights, much appreciated.

  8. I was also too young to fully grasp and understand the word hypocrite when I first heard it as a boy. Today, we are surrounded by it on so many different levels and it spreads across the spectrum of people and situations. I guess the first thing that comes to mind as an adult within me today, is that always look at myself in the mirror first. A sort of self-check and a reminder of self-honesty. Also, the judgments upon others that folks spew are frequently a mirror-image of themselves. Good post, Balroop 🙂

    1. Hi Mike,

      Nice to see you! Hope you are doing well, my friend. I am glad you could relate to this post so well. They say a mirror never lies and it keeps reminding us – look within, be truthful but only if we pay any attention to this aspect of our image. For many, their mirror image is a reflection of self-righteousness, of superiority and gives a feeling of being the best!

      Thanks for your perspective, much appreciated.

  9. There were times when I would be a hypocrite as a teacher, but tried hard not to give hollow praise, etc. Soooooo many people have contrived behaviors. I tend to be judgmental more than anything else. It’s hard to say why. I guess it provides a feeling of control or something.

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