Are you a liar? Do you tell lies? Do you believe some lies? I’m guilty of all 3 of those. I lie to myself frequently, and I frequently believe the lies I tell myself without question and without any further investigation.
And, I’ve noticed that some of the lies I tell myself and believe are holding me back -completely unnecessarily!
I like using the word “lies” for this even though it is a little dramatic and judgy, and it’s not necessary. For example, instead, this episode could easily be called “thoughts we believe that hold us back” – but for some reason, that just doesn’t have the same juiciness, the same zing!
I also like thinking of all of these thoughts as lies because it is charged! It catches your attention and it puts you in a position to either defend the statement (like saying, “no, it’s the truth! It’s not a lie”) or noticing the statement is a lie and letting go of it.
As I’ve been thinking about lies I tell myself, I’ve noticed a few that seem to pop up frequently for me – and until I consciously stopped to think about them, I really would just believe these lies without question, without any hesitation. So, I’m curious if these are lies YOU tell yourself too – or if you tell yourselves other types of lies.
Just Haven’t Yet
One lie that I notice myself using frequently is “I will, I just haven’t yet.”
This one is super sneaky because I’m kind of being compliant and rebellious at the same time. Instead of telling myself the full rebellious truth that I don’t want to do this or I’m not going to follow through on that, I tell myself I will and that I fully intend to. So, compliance points for me! But then I don’t actually comply. I don’t schedule it or make a plan to do it. I put it at the bottom of my priorities. So, I get to feel good about myself for saying yes to myself, for being agreeable, for my intention to do it and then, I might not hold myself accountable when I don’t do it, because, after all, I still intend to.
This lie reminds me of holding on to physical clutter in my house. I notice sometimes I hold on to things I don’t really want or need and will probably never end up using, and will most likely throw away eventually – but, I keep holding on. This is what I’m doing with this “to do” item I’m lying to myself about.
Getting Honest With Myself
What if, instead of lying to myself that I’ll eventually take care of it.. what if I just got honest with myself that I’m not going to and let go of it. Then I don’t have to think about it anymore. I don’t have to consider it again. It’s out of my life and I can focus on things I really do intend to take care of. And, if this “to do” item is something that I really do intend to take care of, instead of lying to myself that I’ll do it eventually, I can just decide to do it today! I can put it on my calender. I can hold myself accountable to just get it done, instead of dragging it along in my brain for weeks and months.
This Won’t Matter
Another lie I frequently tell myself comes up for the exact opposite situation, when I do something I’ve told myself I won’t do – like snacking, or skipping a workout, staying up late, or eating food that’s not healthy for me – and all the other things along that same idea.
When I’ve made the decision to follow the urging of my primitive brain – the pleasure-seeking part of my brain- I sometimes justify it by telling myself the lie that “this won’t matter.” And then I really get creative in justifying how it won’t really matter if I do this! Like when I choose to eat something that has flour or sugar in it, even though I’ve decided I don’t want flour and sugar because those substances cause a lot of inflammation and lead to other longer term health problems, I tell myself- “Oh, this glazed orange cranberry scone full of flour and sugar won’t matter because it’s the first thing I’m eating after my 18 hour intermittent fasting period, so that means my body has cleaned out all the glycogen from my system and it won’t store this as fat, it’ll burn it! By the way, I don’t really believe that, I believe whenever my body gets sugar or flour, it switches to fat storing, instead of fat burning mode. Plus, I really know that flour and sugar in my body makes me feel physically terrible.
But, when I’m faced with a choice like that, when that delicious orange cranberry scone is calling to me, or when watching one more episode instead of going to bed seems so tempting, I do hear myself thinking “this won’t matter.” That’s a lie. It really does matter.
This is a Big Deal!
And, another alternate lie (similar, but different to the “this won’t matter” lie) is when I tell myself “this is a big deal” when it’s not actually that big of a deal. No one else thinks it’s a big deal, but here’s my brain telling me that showing up late to something is a HUGE problem and the end of the world. Or not having a nice hostess gift if I go to someone’s house will be the biggest insult ever! Or if this podcast episode is not as good as my previous episodes, it’s a big deal and I might as well just give up and go eat an orange cranberry scone.
It’s so crazy how my brain can blow really minor things way out of proportion and convince me that something that’s inconsequential in the big scheme is a big,scary, serious deal in this moment. And I frequently believe that lie.
Believing that lie isn’t helpful at all. I get why my brain is offering it to me though, it’s trying to protect me. My brain wants to keep me safe, conserve energy and find pleasure- but, what I’m getting instead when I believe that lie is that I stay stuck, I hold myself back, I doubt myself and I beat myself up for human mistakes. By lying to myself that something is a huge deal – like the quality of a podcast episode, I might get myself into an overthinking-overwhelm cycle and instead of just recording the episode and trusting it will be as good as it will be, and that’s perfect, I spend time thinking, and wondering and worrying and coming up with worst case scenarios.
If you’re new to my site, I just name-dropped 3 previous posts in one idea. So, if you’re curious, you can go back and read the Nonsense Words post to hear my take on the word perfect, and read the Worst Case/Best Case post and then learn how to solve overthinking and overwhelm for yourself in the What are You Over post.
That Doesn’t Count
The opposite of thinking “this is a big deal” is believing something isn’t worthy of any attention or praise. Sometimes, when I’m paid a compliment, or when I notice that I’ve reached a goal or created something or accomplished something, I tell myself “that’s not real” or “that doesn’t count.”
It’s as if I’m downplaying something that I would celebrate in someone else, but for me, in this moment, when I look at it or when someone else tells me about it, my brain says: “but, this accomplishment doesn’t count – no need to feel proud!” Or, my brain might offer that “this achievement isn’t really an achievement – you just got lucky, or they just felt sorry for you.” Sometimes my brain tells me “this isn’t real, you were just in the right place at the right time.”
This happened to me recently as I was telling my own coach about something pretty great that had recently happened in my business, and she responded with “Wow, that’s great! Your efforts are really paying off.” I was a little surprised and said “No, I don’t think I did this, I don’t think it was my efforts that created this.” So we backtracked to find out how the result was created, and of course, it was because of groundwork I had laid months earlier, but my brain told me, that because I hadn’t directly worked on it in the week leading up to the good news, I didn’t deserve any credit for the result.
So, if this lie sounds familiar to you at all, I’m wondering what lies about yourself you believe that have you deflecting compliments, or praise or recognition.
Alternate Statements to Believe
If your brain is willing to offer you lies that you didn’t do this, or you didn’t deserve this, or it’s not that big of a deal, could you also offer yourself alternate statements like:
“Look at this amazing accomplishment I just created!”
“I deserve everything that’s coming to me and more!”
“I’m 100% worthy and 100% lovable all the time and nothing can change that.”
Someone might hear those last 3 statements and think “I would never think those about myself, those seem extreme and partly untrue.” My question to you is if you’re willing to believe the LIE that you don’t deserve something or haven’t created anything worthwhile.. Why not give equal consideration to the “lie” that you do deserve it and have created something amazing?
I Like Things a Certain Way
Sometimes I catch myself declining opportunities because I tell myself the lie that “I like things a certain way” and since this offer, opportunity or situation doesn’t meet those certain preferences I have, I probably won’t like it. What?!?!? Didn’t we all learn as kids that you won’t know unless you try it?!?
So I’ve learned I really need to be on the lookout when I hear the lie that “I like things a certain way.” First of all, of course, we all do. We all have preferences. Saying “I like things a certain way is basically like saying “i’m a human so I breathe.” Ok- noted. But, the lie comes in the unspoken part of that sentence which is something along the lines of “I won’t like this.”
I really want to notice when I’m predicting the future to myself, especially if I’m blocking myself from trying or learning or experiencing something new.
The truth is – I really do like to try, learn and experience new things. My brain just tells me that “I like things a certain way” out of fear that there’s a chance I might not like something. And not liking it could be awkward or uncomfortable (and that would be a big deal!). Ok, brain! That’s not that big of a deal. I’ve lived through not liking things. I’ll be ok.
Speaking of unspoken parts of sentences: lies we tell ourselves can also be unspoken lies. What are the unspoken words at the end of a sentence that you don’t finish?
It’s so tricky, because you don’t actually say the lie out loud or even just to yourself, but you’re still thinking it.. and you’re not refuting it! So therefore, you continue thinking the lie and believing it – even without ever saying it.
I see this so much with resistant thoughts. We get a resistant thought like “I could never” or “that would be so bad” – but we don’t explore the unspoken part – the because. Why would it be so bad? Why could you never? When you really explore those unspoken sentence finishers you realize so much. You find the unsubstantiated resistance. That’s when you can release it!
Another sneaky category that fits in the lies discussion is an exaggeration. I’ve been really curious about exaggerations lately- my own and my clients. I was listening to a client and she said, “I’ve been trying to lose weight for a few months now and I haven’t lost a single ounce.”
I love that exaggerations are so showy and obvious- their extremeness is what calls attention to them so we can dig in to see what we’re believing.
When the client exaggerated and used the measurement of an ounce, instead of just saying “I haven’t lost any weight” I thought – how does she know she hasn’t lost a single ounce? Really? Is her scale that calibrated? Down to ounces? And, I highly doubt that anyone could weigh themselves daily for a few months and not see fluctuations on the scale – both up and down, and certainly someone’s weight could go down by an ounce even if they were actively trying to gain weight.
So, I call that exaggeration a lie. The truth is probably more like her weight has fluctuated up and down the past few months and maybe, on average, it’s right around the same weight as when she started and she expected it to be much lower by now. She’s translating that whole experience into the lie that she hasn’t lost a single ounce- which really shuts down any optimism or belief. Not very helpful!
Another client said she’s always in doubted herself. That’s been her pattern forever. Again, my ears perked up with the exaggeration. I thought “forever, like since you were born? You were a self-doubting baby?” and then of course, I knew it couldn’t be true- otherwise, she would have never learned to walk, or tie shoes, or pour a glass of water. If self-doubt was her pattern forever, she never would have been willing to try and fail at those things. The 5 year old version of her never would have believed she could master writing her own name or learning the alphabet.
So, I call that exaggeration a lie too. Maybe, a more accurate version of her statement would be to say, “in recent years, I’ve noticed I doubted myself in this situation and in that situation” instead of saying “Self doubt has been my pattern forever.”
Do you hear how different those 2 thoughts sound? That’s been my pattern forever.” implies that’s how it is, it’s final. There’s no changing it. I’m powerless!
And “I’ve noticed I doubted myself in this situation and that situation.” implies that in some situations I’ve doubted myself. It leaves wiggle room for me to decide if I’ll doubt myself in this situation, or maybe I don’t have to.
Amazing Lies to Believe
If I’m going to believe lies and exaggeration without question anyhow, why not choose really amazing lies to believe without question? What about if I believed these lies instead:
“I can do whatever I want.”
“I’m amazing at this.”
“I love this – it’s exactly what I want.”
Can you imagine believing you can do whatever you want, instead of believing you have to do things you don’t want to do? Or instead of believing you won’t be able to do what you want to do?
Or can you imagine believing that you will be amazing at something you’re trying, or something you haven’t mastered yet, or something you always lied to yourself about before- by saying you weren’t good at?
Notice and Recognize Lies
I’m pointing out all these lies and exaggerations to you – with the hopes that if you hear these lies, or your own lies that are different from mine, you’ll notice them and recognize them. Then, instead of letting them continue on auto pilot, or instead of continuing to believe them without examination, you can really bring the lies into the light and poke and prod around!
If you ignore or dismiss the lies, you just push them away, and they stay intact. If you examine and explore them, you get to decide what you want to do with the lies.
Lets revisit the 3 questions I asked at the beginning. Are you a liar? Do you tell lies? Do you believe some lies? Maybe now you’re recognizing some lies you tell yourself and believe.
And, my favorite thing to offer coaching clients, blog readers and podcast listeners is awareness, so hopefully this episode and my examples has brought some awareness to you about what you’ve been telling yourself and what you’ve been believing.
According to Dan Ariely, the author of The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, “Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats—just by a little. I’m taking his message a little out of context here- but I just want to point out that if it’s human nature to lie, and we regularly lie to ourselves – why not choose fun, amazing, helpful lies to believe about ourselves and our lives? Why not choose lies to tell ourselves that get us closer to what we want? And then, when we get what we want, because we believed those “lies” (which were actually just our thoughts) – we won’t have been lying after all!
Of course you KNOW I’m curious what you lie to yourself about! Please share in the comments!