The Lies We Tell

I was recently interviewed for a story on The Lies We Tell Ourselves, which got me thinking a lot about our common, everyday lies. 

There are classic and pervasive lies, like “I can’t” and “I’m too busy”.

“I can’t” and “I’m too busy” are lies because there is almost nothing we really can’t do or fit into our schedule. But there are lots and lots of things we don’t want to do. “I can’t” almost always means “I don’t want to”. These lies let you off the hook. They let you weasel out of things you don’t want to do, but that you don’t want to admit you don’t want to do. That’s the momentary plus side.

The long-lasting downside is that they cause you to feel disempowered. Despite what you’re weaseling out of, it never feels good to tell yourself you can’t do something. After a while you start believing it and before you know it, your universe of possibilities shrinks.

Another good one is “I deserve this _______ (insert bad thing for you: too much food, shopping, etc.).” As in “I deserve the whole pint of ice cream” or “I deserve to buy myself a 4th pair ofblack boots”.

You know you do this—we all have moments of rationalizing things that are not what we really want so that they feel like what we want.

Why would we do this? Because we get to hide from our real feelings with momentary comforts. The problem with momentary comforts is that they’re momentary—when the comfort wears off, we’re left facing our lie…and all the feelings we were trying to hide end up magnified.

You may have noticed a theme here: the lies we tell ourselves have some benefits as short-term distraction or feel-good strategies, but they bite us in the ass in the end. Always, every time.

And that’s the thing about all lies, I think. They’re never worth it in the end.

As for my biggest lie? “I have to”. Most of the time I say “I have to” I know it’s a big fat lie. Sometimes I believe it a little bit. Either way, it always hurts in the end. Like most people, I hate being told what to do. So when I tell myself I have to do something I almost always resent the thing I’m doing.

The truth underneath “I have to” is “I choose to”. A tough pill to swallow but almost always more accurate.

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