The Lies We Tell Ourselves

by Gail Jankovski on July 12

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

As a hypnotist and life coach, I am in the business of change. Clients contact me for a variety of reasons, but the common denominator is that there is something that they are seeking to change. And they have been unable to do it on their own. So why, despite our best intentions, is it so difficult to make lasting changes in our lives?

On the surface, change is easy: do what you do want to do, and don’t do what you don’t want to do. Done. Simple. And sometimes it is that simple, but not always. Often, change isn’t that simple because beneath our behaviours lie our beliefs. And these beliefs—about our behaviour, ourselves, and the world around us—drive our decisions and actions day after day.

Are our beliefs “the truth”? It doesn’t even matter. They arise from the lies we tell ourselves.  If you tell a lie enough times, you start to believe it, and it becomes, for all intents and purposes, The Truth.

So why do we tell ourselves these lies? Especially lies that hold us back from reaching our full potential? Well, we don’t just pick them up out of thin air, we are influenced through childhood and beyond by parents, teachers, and the media. Add these influences to our life experiences, especially perceived past failures, our fears, and our innate desire to protect ourselves, and these lies can lead to negative beliefs becoming engrained.

Identifying and examining the lies we tell ourselves, bringing them into our conscious awareness, is an important step towards shifting our negative beliefs. Three of the common lies that can interfere with our ability to reach our full potential are: I don’t have a choice, I don’t have time, and I don’t matter.

I don’t have a choice.

The belief that we don’t have a choice is a major source of inertia in our lives. It is used to justify things like: “I am stuck in a job I hate because I have to pay my mortgage”, or “I have to stay married for the sake of my children.” But is it true?

First, we have to realize that our current situation is a result of the choices we have made in the past. Those choices have forged the path we find ourselves on. Choosing to purchase a home led to a mortgage; choosing to study (or not study) a certain field led to our current job. But regardless of the choices that have led us to where we are now, we are not truly stuck in any situation. There is always choice moving forward.

In my early 40s, I found myself “stuck” in a job I didn’t like. I was struggling financially with three teenagers either in or soon to be in university, and I didn’t have the education or experience to move up in my firm. So I told myself the I don’t have a choice lie. But the truth is I did have a choice; I could have left my job any time I wanted. But I chose to go there every day because I didn’t like the consequences of choosing differently. I was choosing the security and income that job provided me.

Often simply reframing our current situation as a choice that we are making is enough to shift us from state of anxiety to one of freedom, or even gratitude. Sometimes it motivates us to make a different choice and change our situation. Having no choice, or rather believing we have no choice, always induces feelings of powerlessness and anxiety. Being fully present to the choices in our lives means being fully present to our own power and freedom.

When clients pull this lie out I stop them immediately and ask: Do you really have no other choice? Look at your current situation, examine the consequences of the choices before you, and then move forward knowing that you are fully choosing your next steps. Just stop telling yourself the lie that you have no choice.

I don’t have time.

How is it that we all have the same number of hours in a day, but while your neighbour has time to work full time, keep her house clean, and train for a marathon, you don’t have time to wash your dishes or jog around the block? Because one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we don’t have time. The truth is that the things that we don’t have time for, are the things that we choose not to focus our time and attention on. And the things we make time for become our priorities. Now, that’s not to say that our priorities couldn’t use some defining…

There was a time that I was fully on board with the I don’t have time lie. For me, it was that I just didn’t have time to exercise, until the day that I decided that I did have time, which was the same day I decided to give up television.   I made a commitment that every time the television went on in my home I would leave the room and do something else. Suddenly I not only had time to exercise, I also had time to walk my dogs and read the pile of books I had been meaning to get to for months.

Where you are focusing your time? You have 24 hours to spend each and every day – what are your priorities for those hours – and are you spending them accordingly? Be honest about how much of that time is being spent on non-priority activities (social media? internet debates?) and then act on that.

Look for life hacks that make spending time on priority activities easier. Increase your productivity by scheduling those activities at a time when you are most likely to actually do them. If you are a morning person plan your workouts and chores early, even before work. If you are a night owl prep your healthy breakfast in the evening to make your morning run more smoothly. Take a good look at down time in your schedule. What might you be able to accomplish during your lunch break, or on your morning and evening commute? You can spend your lunch break on your phone checking Facebook, or you can spend it going for a walk, or doing yoga. Either option is fine, but if you do the former, stop telling yourself the lie that you don’t have time to exercise.

I don’t matter.

Given that there are seven billion people in the world, it’s pretty easy to convince ourselves that we don’t matter, and that our choices and actions are inconsequential. What is really the point of personal development in the grand scheme of things, anyway? It almost seems self-indulgent when you think about it.

But the individual does matter. Intent matters. For example, anyone who knows me probably knows that I am passionate about animal welfare. I am often asked about the impact one person can make by being a vegetarian. One common refrain is that animals are killed by field machinery and harvesting, so why not just eat meat? Well, if was driving down the street and I hit and killed a bird flying in front of my car, that would be unfortunate. But if I was driving down the street and swerved to intentionally kill a bird, that would be horrible. Of course it doesn’t make a difference to the bird; the pain, suffering and death would be the same either way. But it makes a difference to me. It makes a difference to me in defining the kind of person I want to be.

Any impact or influence that we may want to have in our families, our communities, our countries, and the world starts with us. It starts with defining who we want to be. It starts with believing that we do matter, and striving to be the best we can possibly be. Telling ourselves the I don’t matter lie serves no one.

Just think for a minute of the various people that you have come in contact with throughout your life. Can you think of one that had some impact on you without realizing it? Can you believe that perhaps, someone, somewhere, is thinking the same thing about you?

Art by Danielle Capalbo

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Gail Jankovski

Gail is a certified hypnotist, life coach, and aspiring writer and poet. Her approach to personal development is pragmatic: baby steps are OK—and small changes can add up to big rewards. She also keeps busy as an admin assistant, wife, and mom to three grown children.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim July 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Speaking of not having time, a good book on the matter is The Other Eight Hours by Robert Pagliarini. One of his main points is that if it’s important to you, make it as important as being at work on time. And honestly, what’s the point if you’re not willing to commit at that level?

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Jason July 14, 2015 at 9:03 am

All beautiful ideas to work on, thank you for sharing this work. The one that stuck out for me was “the making a difference” concept. I think this is a very existential question that can cause to many problems for so many people. Especially concerning the other two areas mentioned. One especially empowering concept I found along those lines was the ‘Messages in Water’ concept by Dr. Mesuru Emoto… especially the line from the movie ‘What the Bleep do we Know?’ –if thoughts can do that to water… imagine what they can do to us…

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