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The Lies We Tell Ourselves

by | Jun 30, 2023

What are you lying to yourself about? 

That relationship? What they owe you? What he or she should have done? What you deserve? How they should have treated you? Where you should be in life? 

Lies. We all speak lies to ourselves. 

Sometimes the best, most convincing lies even have a bit of truth in them. But that doesn’t make them true. That still makes them a lie.

Let’s take a look at some common lies we tell ourselves so that we can begin to replace them with our truth and start living healthier, happier lives.

The way we act, the things we say, the feelings we have, and our circumstances– all start with our thoughts and what we believe to be true.

Common Lie #1:

I can’t control myself when:

… I’m stressed.

… they do/say that.

… I’m hungry.

… I’m hormonal.

Our life sometimes “feels” like it’s out of our control, but the great news is we do have some control! 

We get to choose our attitude and our response to our circumstances. Just because we feel out of control, doesn’t mean that we are.

It’s choosing to stay in control when we feel something that’s the tricky part, and it requires awareness and practice.  When something happens- a stressful situation, running out of time, a conflict with someone- how do you choose to react? Have you thought about it, made a plan for it, or stepped away to cool down first?

Let’s go back to the examples:

Just because you’re feeling stressed, doesn’t mean you have to snap at everyone. 

Just because he/she does or says something that makes you feel frustrated or angry, doesn’t mean you yell at them. 

Just because you’re hungry makes you feel irritable, doesn’t mean you eat a whole bag of chips. 

And just because you’re feeling edgy at that time of the month, doesn’t mean you act rude or unkind.

Get control of your actions before they get control of you. You don’t have to be controlled by your emotions any longer. Just because you feel something, doesn’t justify you to lose control, lash out, or react without thinking. You get to decide and that means you are in control after all.

After all, the only things we do have control over are our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  

Common Lie #2:

I’m not good enough.  No one likes me.  If they knew me, they’d hate me.

I’m better than them.  I’m better off doing it myself.

Oftentimes, our lies are centered around not feeling good enough.  But sometimes, our lies are based on the opposite- feeling like we’re better than someone else.  Either way, both lies are playing the comparison game and both are based on false beliefs.

We are all unique and worthy of love.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses.

We have the choice to notice the positives in others and in ourselves.

Be mindful of feelings of superiority, hypocrisy, judgment, unhealthy competition, and arrogance. Remind yourself that we are all imperfect beings, just trying to do our best. 

Gossiping, pointing out flaws, and making assumptions serve no one.

Common Lie #3:

I’ll do it later. 

I’ll start that tomorrow. 

I’m not feeling like it today.

Procrastination is a killer. Day after day we put off what we could have done. Then, a year quickly goes by, nothing has changed and no progress has been made.

Excuses are a killer, too, and we can find a great excuse for about anything.  Too tired, too busy, too broke, too lazy- if we don’t really want to do something, we’ll justify it with an excuse.

Here are a few tips to push through the lie of procrastination and excuse-making:

– If you have a goal, make doable action steps so that it doesn’t overwhelm you, take too long, or use up so much of your resources.  You may have to say no to some things in order to say yes to something that you want to do. 

– Prioritize your days. Prioritize what is most important for you.  Use a daily planner to do so. 

– Take a look at what you are spending your time on. Are there any frequent distractions? Is your phone or computer a time killer that prevents you from starting, making progress on, or completing your goals?

– Take a look at the people you spend time with.  Who and what in your life is challenging you, motivating you, and holding you accountable? Tell someone what you want and what your goals are so that it’s not so easy to put it off any longer.  Gretchen Rubin is a great author/speaker on the subject of external accountability. 

– Get prepared. At the end of the day, take a look at what you want to do for the next. Set it out, get it ready, make it easy for yourself to get it done. For example, if it’s exercise you want to start, set out your clothes and shoes the night before.

Common Lie #4:

This won’t matter. 

What will it hurt?

I won’t do it again.

Hooking up with them today will matter. Eating those cookies today will matter. Losing your temper today will matter. Staying in that relationship another day will matter. Drinking another drink today will matter.

No matter how trivial or harmless or difficult it may seem, every decision you make will matter.  Each decision builds on the next. 

Your decisions today create the habits and belief systems and values and worth of your future.  Every time you tell yourself this lie, you’re chipping away at all those things. 

Eventually, enough time passes and you realize the gravity that all those choices had in your life.  What you do today shapes who you are tomorrow.  Don’t minimize, avoid, or deny the choices you make today.  Have the wisdom to know that what you do today will affect your future.

Common Lie #5:

They need to change first. 

They shouldn’t have been mean to me.

I’m a victim in this (and they should pay). 

Have you ever felt justified in not treating someone very kindly?  Have you ever started a sentence with, “why should I when he/she…?”  Have you ever treated anyone like they were inferior to you?

It’s a lie to think we should treat people the way they deserve to be treated. None of us are deserving. We’re all flawed. We all make mistakes and fall short. We all have a hard story to tell.  We all hope that when we mess up, someone will forgive us and show us grace. 

We were created for love and connection. We are literally biologically wired for it.  Let’s be better and do better to one another. The next time someone wrongs you and you want to respond harshly, remember this lie and treat them the way you’d want to be treated instead.  

Common Lie #6:

This is the way it should be done. 

This is the right way to do something. 

Who says we all have to do everything the same way? Isn’t that kind of boring?  When you really pick apart this lie, it’s kind of absurd to even think.  But we do it all the time. 

Check yourself when you say “should.” There’s probably some sort of false truth, expectation, or element of control going on.

We are all unique beings on our own unique path and do things our own unique way.  Let’s all embrace that concept rather than try to control it.

There’s no one right way to do something. Focus on yourself, what you’re doing and how to live your best life, without telling people how they should be living theirs.

Practice letting others do it another way.  Then realize the world won’t fall apart.  

Common Lie #7:

They should know what’s wrong. 

I shouldn’t have to explain myself. 

Do you expect people to know what you want from them?  Do you expect people to do what you want them to do without actually communicating what it is?  Do you think you have the right to react when someone doesn’t do what you wanted them to?  If yes, you’re in for a frustrating and disappointing life and your relationships are gonna be rocky. 

People cannot read your mind. It’s your responsibility to clearly communicate your desires.

You also can’t control other people. Just because you feel they should do something, doesn’t mean they will or should have to.  It is critical to know the ideal in a situation but then also to realize the realistic nature of the situation.  There is a grieving process in the ideal/real balance; that is ok as long as the real is something that can be lived with. 

Everyone is responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Focus on your own rather than everyone else’s.

Be cognizant of your expectations.  If you get frustrated or upset when someone doesn’t say/do/behave in the way you expected them to, you’re probably telling this lie.

Your relationships will improve once you replace this lie with the truth. You’ll breathe easier without having all these demands on others, too. Confidence, joy, and peace are on the other side of this lie. Decide to stop telling it today.

Common Lie #8:

I’ll never be able to forgive myself. 

If I forgive myself, I’m excusing my behaviors.

When we think of forgiveness, we often think of forgiving others who have hurt us.  But what about when we hurt ourselves?  Just as we have to choose to forgive others, we also have to choose to forgive ourselves.

You are not your past. You are not your mistakes.  Every day is a new day to forgive yourself, move forward, and make wise choices.  Don’t let your past effect your present and future.  Choose to forgive.

Common Lie #9: 

I have to be perfect to be accepted and loved.

I can’t mess up. 

Do you ever feel like if you don’t perform perfectly or prove yourself to others, you won’t feel good enough?  You have value and are worthy just by being yourself. Your list of accomplishments doesn’t make you any better or worse of a person. The next time you catch yourself telling this lie, stop and replace it with the truth. You are amazing just for being you.  Your self-esteem should come with knowing and believing you are worthy and of value just by being alive.  Your esteem doesn’t come from others (this is others-based esteem) or from what you do (this is performance-based esteem).  

List out everything you’ve already accomplished in your life. Celebrate all the small wins and successes along life’s way.  

Watch for the comparison trap.  You are on your own life journey and other people are on theirs.  Each of our paths looks different and it is a slippery slope to look and compare yours to someone else’s.  

Talk to someone and tell them about your lie. They will remind you of how special you are. When you keep silent, you give this lie even more power. 

Trust the idea that things happen the way that they’re supposed to. If you hit a bump, experience something painful, or just flat-out fail, realize that there may be a bigger plan for you and that this experience was needed to get there.  Hardships and failures can bring growth and new directions. 

Common Lie #10:

I’ll be happy when…

If this happens, then I’ll be okay.  

Busyness, distractions, and fixating on the future can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies.  It can send us into a tailspin of burnout and disappointment.  It is much better to focus on the present and express gratitude for what we have right now.  Our happiness today shouldn’t depend on what our tomorrow should look like.  

Pay attention to whether you are so busy on focusing on the tasks to be completed, that you fear stillness and silence.  Are you able to get quiet and listen to your inner spirit?  Are you aware of how your busyness is distracting you?  Striving and never stopping will never bring you happiness. Rest and pausing are about trust.  

Peace, joy, contentment, and ease live in the present, not the future.  These are several of the fruits of the spirit provided by God in the present moment (Galatians 5:22-23).  Practice the sacred pause, reflect on your current blessings, and trust that God will be there for you in your future. Our peace is not determined by something happening or someone doing something, it is a product of living and resting in our spirit.

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About Kristi | View Profile

Kristi Schwegman is a psychotherapist specializing in helping couples develop healthy relationships, whether dating, engaged, or married. She also draws from her Christian-based approach to lead individuals in becoming aware of the limiting beliefs that can get them stuck.

We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!

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