The Lies Your Mind Tells You that Hold You Back

by STEVE BLOOM

Lies Your Mind Tells You
It’s amazing how often our minds lie to us.

We’ll think of excuses to not do something instead of admitting it’s procrastination.

We’ll try to justify bad choices rather than call them mistakes.

Then there are negative thoughts and beliefs telling us what we can’t do.

Why do we let this happen?

Lies are usually told to avoid trouble or as a way to get something from another person. There’s really no reason to lie to ourselves. You’d think that we’d always want to tell ourselves the truth.

And there’s a big problem when it comes to lying to ourselves: it can hinder our growth and ability to improve our lives.

For example, when I graduated from college, I got a job in a big corporate office. After a few months of working, I realized I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected.

But I kept telling myself that I would eventually get used to it. In my mind, the job was a good fit and I just needed to give it more time. If something was wrong, it was my attitude, not the job itself.

Unfortunately, I was just deceiving myself. One day I faced the truth that I hated working in the corporate world and had to find another line of work.

This repeated lie hindered my progress. It was the only thing keeping me in a job I hated. If I had just accepted the truth earlier, I could have done something about it sooner.

Truth is the First Step to Positive Change

Lies don’t do us any good. If something isn’t working, we should be honest. When we do something wrong, we should own the mistake.

It reminds me of a time when I was in middle school. Sitting next to a friend at lunch, he told me that when I get nervous or anxious, I bite my nails – something I didn’t even realize I was doing. Apparently the habit was getting out of control.

I was naturally embarrassed and didn’t want to hear it, but then he made a really great point:

He said it’s way better to hear the horrible truth from a friend rather than be unaware of a problem that needs to be corrected.

He was right. It was better to hear the embarrassing truth rather than have the problem continue.

Because he was willing to tell me the truth, I could do something about it; his honesty improved my life.

We all need to be our own best friend. We all need to be someone who is willing to tell the truth to ourselves even if it’s unpleasant or embarrassing.

Otherwise you may hinder personal growth and leave big problems unchecked.

Radical Self-Honesty

Let’s say you’re making excuses to not do something. Instead of being honest that you’re procrastinating, you’ll say you’re too tired or that the timing isn’t right.

Those excuses are lies masking the real problem: procrastination. They make a real problem more likely to continue.

Mentally you’re justifying your bad behavior which makes you more likely to do it in the future. After all, you don’t feel so bad about procrastinating when you have a reason to do it.

It’s easier to tell yourself that you like a job or relationship you hate rather than admit you don’t. That means facing an uncomfortable truth you’d rather not deal with.

But you have to deal with these things if you want your life to improve.

Lately I’ve started to watch my thoughts to see when I’m being honest with myself and when I’m not. My goal is complete self-honesty.

I won’t tell myself excuses or justify misbehavior. If I’m procrastinating, I will be honest about it. If I make a big mistake, I won’t try to cover it up. I’ll get rid of any self-limiting thoughts.

The goal is to be my own best friend who is willing to say things I might not want to hear. This will help me uncover problems so I can make improvements.

Be Your Own Best Friend

You need to take control over your thoughts and be honest.  If you don’t, you’ll ensure that whatever you’re covering up continues to make your life a lot less satisfying.

After all, if no one comes around to tell you about a bad habit – whether it’s biting your nails or procrastinating – you may never know it’s there.
photo credit: gato-gato-gato

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Comments

  1. Hey Steve,

    “The goal is to be my own best friend who is willing to say things I might not want to hear.”

    –That’s an interesting take on it. For me, the best way of doing this is through journaling. I like to write down my thoughts prior to, and after, important decisions.

    “Unfortunately, I was just deceiving myself. One day I faced the truth that I hated working in the corporate world and had to find another line of work.”

    –Better sooner than later. :)

    • I’ve done some journaling before, but that’s usually when I have a difficult problem to work through. For some reason, writing things down really puts a complex issue into more simple terms. At least it does that for me.

  2. I went through a very similar situation with a job out of college. I kept lying to myself about it just to keep things up. I think I was just scared to start over.

    I think we also tend to lie to ourselves because we don’t want to accept something as truth. When you don’t want to believe something, you lie to yourself trying to make that truth. Which typically postpones or prevents you from having to deal with something heavy. In the end you are truly holding yourself back when you could just deal with it and move past it.

    ~Lea

    • The truth can be hard to take. But that’s where progress comes from. I always try to remind myself of a quote from Carl Sagan about it, he said:

      “When Kepler found his long-cherished belief did not agree with the most precise observation, he accepted the uncomfortable fact. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions; that is the heart of science.”
      – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

      I always try to tell myself the truth even if it’s hard to accept.

  3. What a thought provoking post! Thank you! Your words will be in the back of my mind the next time I sit down instead of getting out on my bike!

    • I’m glad you like it, Peggy. There are so many excuses we can make to not exercise. I’ve made just about all of them at one point or another. But eventually I just had to accept that I was making excuses. Now I go to the gym three times a week no matter what, no excuses.

  4. Separating a lie from an excuse is tough. I too used to lie to myself saying if I ‘just try harder’, I’ll be be better at whatever I was doing.

    Truth is, trying harder never works unless there’s a goal to go for, and a system in place. Especially for me.

    And it’s a reoccurring process. The solution is to watch for when I feel low/frustrated, and then figure out why. The answer isn’t immediate either.

    • I’ve that to be true too. Working harder for no goal doesn’t quite work. It can be too vague and aimless. We have to be honest with ourselves about our overall goals too. It’s important to know when they’re not working the way we want and when we need to change them.

  5. I’ve learned the power of our self-talk and thoughts. It can drive us forward or hold us back. The attitude we have and our actions first start on the inside, from our thoughts. The key is to focus on positive and good thoughts so it will produce the results we want. Great post Steve!

    • Thoughts affect behavior and actions so much that you can’t ignore what’s going on the inside of your mind. That’s why I find it so important to be so honest. If I life to myself, I’m only hurting myself.

  6. “Be ruthlessly honest with yourself when you assess whether or not you have met the goal.” – Jim Rohn
    He had even more to the point passage about self-honesty, I’ll update when I find it.

    Self-honesty is crucial, because in the end you are your most valuable asset. You can’t afford to misjudge yourself.

    Funny, funny. I’m just working on the book about self-analysis. we are synchronized, it seems 😉

    • We’re our own most valuable asset. That’s the way I look at it. When you put a lot into who you are, you can’t afford to misjudge or lie to yourself.

  7. Steve, it’s amazing what junk lands up in our heads and we need to clear it out like physical junk. Of course there’s a whole pile of messages coming at us that aren’t helpful – it’s almost as if there’s a plan to keep us all spending on things we don’t really need to trap us in jobs we don’t really like and pay taxes we resent.

    It takes courage see who we really are and swim against the tide but that’s the best way for many of us.

    • It’s like spring cleaning for your mind. Negative thoughts can linger around like junk in the corner of your closet. In order to get the most out of your mind, you have to clear that out. So far, I felt like I’ve got a lot out of being completely self-honest. No more excuses to myself.

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