Uncover the Lies You Tell Yourself
Yesterday, I ate my breakfast lunch and dinner (all three) sitting in front of my computer. This is not a good sign! Yes, I’ve been working really hard to wrap up an important project, but I couldn’t stop sweating the small stuff. I confess; I’m a perfectionist. I used to think that was a good thing, but now I know better. Sitting in front of a computer for 12 hours isn’t perfectionism, it’s sadism. It’s what we do when we believe the lie that we’re not good enough. But no matter how long, or how hard we work, we’ll never prove to ourselves anything different.
We all have a story we tell ourselves about ourselves. Yet we’re seldom fully aware of all the bits and pieces that make up the narrative. Somewhere, deep inside, we all harbor some lies about who we are, or are not. For example, I use to think it was admirable to try to be perfect. I didn’t know my control habits were how I covered up what I didn’t want others to know.
I’m fat. I’m ugly. I deserve to be punished. I’m stupid, I’m lazy. I must try harder than everyone else. I’ll never have enough. I don’t deserve to be taken care of. I have to do x, y, or z to earn love and caring. I’m not talented or creative. I can’t win. I’m no good. I’m just not good enough. These are just a few of the lies that show up when I work with people to uncover their past. Most everyone has them, but the real mystery is, how did we acquire them and how can we become aware of them so they don’t control us, or our lives?
How We Acquire These Lies
We all use thoughts and feelings to interpret our experiences. Yet beneath those thoughts, lives a belief system we developed as a child when we didn’t have the logic or experience to interpret what was really happening with our parents, family, and social networks (school, church and community). So our interpretations became our operating system. And that core personal belief system influences the thoughts and feelings (reactions) we have every day.
Certain negative experiences cause us to adopt negative beliefs about who we are – things that aren’t true. These beliefs get stored in our subconscious as negative self-concepts – Lies we believe about who we are. We don’t want them to be true and deep down our soul knows they are not true, but the wounded ego still believes they are. Consequently, it will try to keep others from discovering these “defects.”
You can identify them by their trademark feelings of hurt and anger. When someone says or does something that hurts you, or something you do to yourself causes you to dislike yourself, these signal that an old wound and attached lie have been triggered. Ding, ding, ding!
The ego goes into self-defense mode (control) to try to minimize anyone discovering what it fears is true about you, that you’re too fat, too old, too poor, too whatever to be accepted. The ego will strongly defend against exposing the lie – even to you!! So how do we know what’s the truth in all of this and what’s simply a false belief?
How to Expose the Lies
When we harbor lies about who we are, we tend to want to point the finger at other people for thinking we’re too lazy or not pretty enough. We find the evidence out in the world to support what we believe, and then blame others for how they perceive us. But it’s (almost always) not them. We believe it first and foremost. We wouldn’t feel anything if we weren’t already afraid that it was true. This is both difficult, but also great news. We don’t have to accept the bad treatment of others, but we can benefit it. Taking responsibility for our hurt feelings when someone makes a comment that triggers our lies helps us identify them. It hurts our eyes to have the curtains thrown open, but we have to be willing to look closely at the pain, because it points directly at the lie. If we’re too wrapped up in blaming, we simply won’t look and then it remains, full of power and self-righteousness.
Approach your own thoughts with curiosity
Keep in mind that you adopted these lies (false beliefs) because something hurtful happened, and it caused you to believe something negative about yourself that wasn’t true. A parent said something to shame you, or a teacher may have put you down in front of class. It became easier to believe they were right and take the logical course to correct yourself. The behaviors that have resulted may seem to be “part of who you are.” That is why it’s going to take a certain level of loving curiosity to take notice when things don’t work for you or your life. Take notice of what hurts and what causes pain and frustration for you. Don’t judge them or resist them. Don’t wish the feelings away. They show themselves to help you uncover the lies. It hurts mostly because you’re believing them and deep down, your soul knows they aren’t true.
Make self-discovery a priority
What we look directly at loses its power over us. We can uncover the lies if we’re willing to look inside and see the truth. It’s probably going to be a bit painful and you may feel betrayal and sadness. These are normal. It hurts because you’re unaware. You have to want to follow the pain down to the lie, over and over, until you understand it (at least partially). After a while, you may be able to bring some sense of humor to it. You’ll stop holding on to your lies and identifying them with who you are. You might even make a game of it. What I’ve learned so far, after years of working through this, is that the lie doesn’t go away. Yesterday, as I finished dinner, I realized that I was at it again and it didn’t feel good. I’d spent the whole day frustrated and unable to accomplish what I wanted. I was taking it personally. Believing the lie that I’m not good enough, I tried to prove to myself that I am. So the very best we can do is learn to recognize when we’ve crossed to the dark side and then shine a little light on the truth.
Write your own truth
What is true about you is whatever you want to be true. You and your life are simply a collection of whatever you believe, think and feel. Over time we can build up some of our own truths that help to soften the lies a little. This is a practice of self-love and so worth it. When I’m stuck in negative beliefs it helps me to write about myself. I begin with a lot of I am’s, and then I let the thoughts simply flow. I am tired…I am frustrated…I am proud of myself for trying…I am getting things done in my own time…I am way behind everyone else…I am ahead of my own deadlines on most things…
On and on I go until I can be easier on myself, and let the truth of what I’m trying to do with my life come forward. I so often get caught between what really matters and what I think I should be doing…yes, still. This is where the lies hang out, among our social expectations. So keep your focus on why you’re here and what matters to you and only you.
Help me out friends…How do you spend time rebuilding bigger and better truths about who you are?
Good, better, best…you already are!
In Life and Love, Tracy