“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
Let me ask you a question – if you had to guess, what would the absolute best way be the guarantee that you do not achieve any of your goals in life? Now, I’m not sure what you answered, but I am sure that if you wanted to you could come up with many ways that guarantee you from not achieving outcomes you want in life. True? I know it is for me. He gave me sometime and I had to make a list, I could come up with a very long list and many ways they would guarantee 100% that I want to achieve life that I want. But, I do believe there is a way that beat all else. if you do this one, your chances to achieve any of your goals are really between slim and none. And it is this – lying to yourself.
The moment you cannot tell yourself the truth and face it head-on, you stacking the odds against yourself.
Now, the truth is that we lie to ourselves on a daily basis. This is just what we do. Let me give you a few examples – we lie to ourselves whether we are really hungry not, whether we really need a new shirt or pair of shoes, whether we can really afford something, whether we really like job or not, whether we have time and energy to do the things there are important or not, and so on and so on. I believe we tell ourselves lies to protect ourselves, or at least create the illusion of protection, but this is a misplaced intention with dire consequences in the long run.
What I learned in my research in psychology and altering human behaviour, is that our ego doesn’t like rejection and falling short and so it avoids it at all cost. And so it does everything in its power to keep us “safe” and out of harm’s way. The only problem with this is, all the good stuff lie beyond discomfort and so-called “harms way. Our ego gets us to start telling ourselves stories about what’s really going on in our lives. And these stories usually take the form of lies and the main character is fear. Our ego uses fear to paralyse us into inaction. And these lies furthermore aim to cover up our perceived shortcomings and prevent us from taking risks, which ultimately limit our lives and our ability to enjoy life fully.
In the end, our lies serve the purpose of making us feel better in the short-term, but miss out on the good life in the long-term.
The challenge I want to pose to you in this post is very simple – make a conscious decision to become aware of how much you like yourself every day, and then choose to cease lying to yourself and aim to start living in the truth.
Here are a couple of lies that we tell ourselves. Read through them, think about them, and challenge them if they come up in your life.
1. “I don’t have a choice.” We all have an unlimited number of options available to us at any time. You might not feel brave or capable enough to consider them all, but you do have options. Consider what advice you would give a friend in a similar situation. Or determine what your most capable friend would do. Can you do the same?
2. “If I do X or say Y, people will think less of me.” Thought it’s hard to believe, no one really cares. Everyone is too preoccupied with their own lives or else wondering what your opinion is of them.
• If you believe you’re worthy, you won’t have these types of thoughts. You’re good enough to do and say what you want.
3. “It’s too late for me.” People have graduated from medical school in their 60’s. An 80-year old successfully climbed Mount Everest. Do you still think it’s too late?
• Many things become less convenient as we get older. For example, it’s more challenging to go back to school when you have a family and a full-time job compared to a single, 20-year old. But challenging and impossible are two completely different things. Make sure you know the difference.
4. “Anything short of perfect is failure.” If you have to be the best at something before you’ll try, you’ll never get off the couch. Most of us don’t have the potential to be the best at anything, but we can all be pretty good at just about anything. However, it requires time and effort.
• Do you really need to be the best? That’s another sign of feeling unworthy. There’s no reason to be competitive with everything you do. Enjoy yourself without worrying about how well you’re doing. Challenge yourself as much as you like, but keep it in perspective. There will always be someone else who comes along and beat you. This is a fact of life. So push yourself, but don’t stay on the couch because you worried about not being the best. And even if you absolutely do want to be the best, you still have to make a start somewhere and work for it anyway!
5. “I’d be happy if I had more money.” Studies have shown that happiness and income are only correlated up to a salary of roughly $70,000 per year. That means that millionaires are no happier than those that make $70,000 annually. If you can pay your bills each month, money isn’t limiting your happiness. I would also challenge you to sit down and do this next exercise. Take a piece of paper and a pen and start listing your expenses every month. After that, list the things that you would like to do every month. My challenge is to stay real and don’t be unrealistic like, “I want to buy an island every month.” That’s just ridiculous. So after you have your expenses and your monthly desires written down, also write down the one or two big things that you would like to do per year. Now, add it all up. Just make a rough equation and get to some estimate number. If you’ve done this truthfully, chances are that that number is much smaller than the one you’ve imagined. And if you don’t believe me, you can go one step further, and research the actual cost of everything that you wrote down and add it all up. You will probably find that it’s still a small number than first imagined. To give you good example, I did mine, and if I did absolutely everything that I wanted including visiting family overseas once or twice a year, that number is still under $20,000 a month. Break that down, I have to find a way to make roughly around $666 per day to make that a reality. Break it down even further, and that comes down to roughly about $83.25 per hour if I worked for eight hours a day. Suddenly, my dream life doesn’t seem that unattainable.
6. “I can change him (or her).” Unlikely. Think about how hard is to change yourself, even when you want to change. Now imagine how difficult it is to change someone else. And that other person probably doesn’t want to change. It isn’t going to happen. also, you need to realise you’re “competing” with a central nervous system nine amino acid peptide in your brain called Oxycontin. Oxycontin plays a major role in our bonding with other people. Consequently our attachment to people can be unrealistic and “blind” and we need to realise when it is time to walk away. What I’ve learned about human transformation is that people often do more for others they care about than for themselves. If he or she is not changing for you now, chances are it will never happen. People need to want to change before they do. You can stick around and wait and hope that he or she finds that reason quickly, or you can equally ask yourself, whose happiness is most important in this situation right now, and move on.
7. “I’m limited in my ability to accomplish anything.” It has been said that learning to walk and talk are far more challenging than anything else anyone has ever accomplished. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, everyone can walk and talk.” Exactly. You’re infinitely more capable than you need to be.
• You may have a few issues to resolve, but your inherent capability isn’t one of them.
You need to realise that we are masters at deluding ourselves. We lie to the person in the mirror in order to protect ourselves – to make us feel better. That’s just a fact. It’s nothing to get negative about or stress over. You just need to learn how to deal with it. Choose to avoid giving up your future in order to appease your emotions in the short-term. This is a simple choice you and I can make. Ultimately, the lies you tell yourself limit you to enjoy life fully. It could be argued that the purpose of all self-help is to learn how to lie to ourselves less frequently. Well, if that’s the case let’s try it. You could be the next great thing since sliced bread 🙂