When we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something... but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, that is when we join the fashionable madmen.
— Joan Didion —
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.[Colossians 2:3-8]
Circumstances are what deceive us- you must be discerning in them. We embrace evil before good. We desire the opposite of what we once desired. Our prayers are at war with our prayers, our plans with our plans.
——Seneca, Moral Letters, 45.6(resource) Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom
There are three areas in which the person who would be wise and good must be trained. The first has to do with desires and aversions- that a person may never miss the mark in desires nor fall into what repels them. The second has to do with impulses to act and not to act- and more broadly, with duty- that a person may act deliberately for good reasons and not carelessly. The third has to do with freedom from deception and composure and the whole area of judgment, the assent our mind gives to its perceptions. Of these areas, the chief and most urgent is the first which has to do with passions, for strong emotions arise only when we fail in our desires and aversions.
—Epictetus, Discourses, 3.2.1-3a