We all believe certain lies. Even lies we know to be lies. Even lies that undermine our well-being. We believe them in spite of ourselves.
Don’t ask me why. It would probably take years of therapy to uncover why we might internalize as true something so blatantly false.
One set of lies has to do with the negative names we call ourselves. “I’m a loser.” “I don’t have what it takes.” These non-specific, unverifiable conclusions we draw about ourselves hover as accusing judgments, sabotaging our ability to see much less consider options in which we may thrive.
Another set of lies has to do with imaginary rules that then become obstacles to us. “You have to earn your stripes first.” “That’s now how it works.” “Who do you think you are?” Before you even begin a conversation, act on an idea, or move toward a dream, you talk yourself out of it because you somehow are not qualified or are not approaching it “correctly” and therefore doomed.
Whether or not you choose to explore with your therapist why you believe these lies, I want to suggest that you’ve achieved a major feat of self-empowerment merely by identifying them.
Merely by calling them out for what they are—lies—we disarm much of their power over us.
For example, it will serve me better to identify that I am afraid of being criticized for my decisions than to bluster and pretend to be more confident that I am. In the first case, I can go ahead and make the best decision possible. In the second case, I end up making lousy decisions because all my attention is diverted to appearing more confident than I am.
Calling out a lie might go something like this, “That’s a lie! I don’t know why I act as if it were true, but doing so is keeping me from doing what I feel is best. I’m going to take a step toward what I want anyway.”
Oversimplified to be sure, but what’s the point here? Instead of unconsciously behaving as if the lie were a truth and pretending to know better (an energy consuming process of self-deception), we choose to consciously call out the lie and our mysterious buy-in to it (an energy freeing process of honest self-awareness) so that our behavior can be a deliberate, intentional, and personal choice. Now that’s empowerment!
What lies do you find yourself believing in spite of yourself? Experiment with identifying those lies and calling them out. I believe you will discover you have a bit more internal space to make better decisions, make more timely decisions, and make more satisfying decisions.
On your side,
- Karl Edwards
Loving Monday is a weekly column designed to encourage us to step into our weeks with an intention to show up authentically, engage fully, and choose to make it a good week for ourselves. Explore past columns here.