Unless you are a politician or a high-class escort, you have no business telling lies. You especially have no business telling lies to yourself. The lies we tell ourselves are often the most damaging. Their poison is slow-eating and insidious and it can take years before their devastating effects can be seen on your body, mind, and life.
We can’t completely eradicate lying from our lives. We all lie. But we can make a good go at removing the lies that are patently untrue and damaging and replace them with lies that actually serve our purposes as we make our way through this world.
A while back, I spent a week monitoring my thoughts like an obsessive weirdo – the good, the bad, and the ugly – in an effort to catch the common lies I tell myself. If I’m thinking these messed up thoughts (and I’m not mentally unstable), I’ll bet you are probably thinking the same ones too.
1. They are making me angry/unhappy/depressed.
“You’re pissing me off.”
“My girlfriend is making me miserable.”
“My kids are eating my soul and using it to poop all over my empty shell of a body.”
Um… No they’re not.
Your wife, husband, best friend, mum, dad, brother, sister, accountant, employee, boss, side-piece, therapist… None of these people are making you do or feel anything.
As my boy Epictetus always said:
People are disturbed not by events alone but by the views they take of them.
Epictetus, in addition to being stoic as fuck and boasting a sexy derrière, was bang on the money with this one.
Your spouse isn’t making you angry. It’s your reaction to what they are saying or doing that’s making you angry.
Your kids aren’t the ones depressing you. It’s your thought patterns, preconceived notions of yourself, others, and the world that is making you depressed.
If you find yourself having an adverse reaction to someone or something, you need to figure out why.
Find the trigger for whatever is making you angry or unhappy and then find ways to remove that trigger or find better coping methods.
Taking responsibility for how you feel is the most empowering thing you can ever do for yourself.
Continuing to blame others for your day-to-day emotions is the best way you can ensure you remain a pathetic victim.
2. If I don’t succeed in X, I’m a failure in everything.
Type A personalities are most prone to this sort of thinking.
You can be a success in tons of areas in your life, you can have a huge history of intellectual and physical conquests, but if the one thing you’re focusing on right now doesn’t go to plan – OH NO! I’M A FAILURE!
Common negative thought patterns include:
- “I’ve poured so much time and effort into this. If I fail, I’ve wasted so much of my life.”
- “Everyone knows I’m trying to make a success of this. It will be embarrassing if I fail.”
- “If I don’t succeed in this area, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
Firstly, let’s get the biggie out of the way:
If you fail, so what?
Will you die?
Will someone you love die?
In most cases, nothing adverse will happen if you fail.
Secondly, you can fail gracefully and use that failure as a stepping stone to greater success.
You can moderate this thinking by actually setting a time to fail. For example, “I will give up my selling insurance after 1,000 knock-backs.”
If you are staking your entire self-worth on whether you succeed or fail in one area, you are thinking in a severely un-resourceful and unhealthy way.
Failure in one area in no way negates your worth or lovability as a human being.
Those who deliver lots of value to the world fail more.
Those who do nothing with their lives, fail rarely.
I know which camp I’d rather be in.
Sign me up to Failure City.
3. This always happens to me.
Saying something “always” happens is an example of magnification and selective attention.
We tend to notice patterns – particularly if they cause us psychological distress – and then we magnify them and say they happen all of the time.
There are few things in life that always happen.
Let’s be honest, if a bird always shits on your car every morning, wouldn’t you have moved your fucking car by now?
It doesn’t always happen. It might have happened a few times previously and now you’re making a mountain out of a molehill because you need drama. You need to feed that victim-shaped hole in your life that craves attention and sympathy.
If your spouse always nags you, wouldn’t you have left them or had a mental breakdown already?
If your kid is always getting in trouble at school, why are you so angry? Surely you have become accustomed to it by now.
Next time you find yourself saying something bad “always” happens, try to find out why you’re saying that.
If the negative thing happens frequently, examine ways to ensure it happens much less in the future. That is a way more resourceful mindset to have than simply exaggerating and complaining.
What Lies Do You Tell Yourself?
I don’t really have that many negative thoughts.
I know I used to have a lot more before starting the Wim Hof Method.
So I’m curious. Spend some time monitoring your thoughts. Do these thoughts pop into your head from time to time too? Or are there other lies that seep into you mind?