One of the things I always catch myself saying is this: We humans are strange creatures. By strange, I mean interesting.
This time, I’m saying it again because of our ability to deceive ourselves. Our minds are so powerful that we can convince ourselves of so many things to make life seem a bit less complicated.
Think about it – do other animals on earth do that? Do gazelles say, “It’s fine, everything’s okay,” while their leg is caught in a lion’s jaw? Does a jellyfish say, “I don’t mean any harm, I’m just coasting along here…”?
No. Only humans do that. Because we’ve got the self-awareness and cognitive abilities to tweak our thoughts in ways that make us feel better.
Here are ten common lies we tell ourselves:
1) “I’m happy at my job.”
Let’s start with something that will probably sound familiar to many. Have you ever had a sucky day at work, then turned around and said, “I love my job, I love my job, I love my job…” like a mantra?
Or “Well, at least I have a job…”
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in being grateful for the jobs we hold. After all, not everyone has one!
But take care not to mistake gratitude for authentic happiness. Because that’s when you cross over to self-deception.
What’s more, failing to acknowledge you’re unhappy is going to get you stuck in a place where you don’t want to be. And life’s too short for that.
You owe it to yourself and be honest about what makes your heart beat. What makes you jump out of bed with enthusiasm. If your job doesn’t do that for you, it’s time to explore what else is out there.
And do it now. Don’t start telling yourself this other lie…
2) “I’ll start tomorrow.”
I’m no stranger to this lie myself. I think that procrastination has hit every one of us at one point or another.
Don’t make it into a habit, though. Delaying what could be done today is similar to a slow death.
I don’t mean to sound extreme, but that’s essentially what procrastination has the power to do. I’ve had big dreams then talked myself out of them by saying, “I’ll start on it tomorrow.”
Before I knew it, those dreams had faded and I’d subconsciously convinced myself that they were just some unreachable illusion.
But you see, the real lie I told myself was that I could start tomorrow, and then tomorrow, and yet another tomorrow.
In the end, procrastination just added a heavier mental load on me than the actual work of going after my goals would.
3) “I can stop whenever I want.”
Oh, this one’s going to sound familiar everywhere in the world. Really, you can stop whenever you want?
Can you really stop playing the next episode of that show? Stop smoking or drinking? Stop doom scrolling?
Look, I’m not judging here. I’ve got my own addictions I regularly lie to myself about (e.g. midnight snacking on potato chips and binge-watching).
Why do we tell ourselves this lie?
Well, it comes down to avoidance of guilt. We want to continue doing what we want without the heavy burden of guilt.
Plus, it gives us a false sense of control. Like, sure, we’re on a slippery slope, but don’t worry, our (imaginary) brakes are working.
Like I said, we’re strange creatures.
4) “It’s not that bad.”
This is something we might say in relation to our addictions. Also in relation to any other problems we might have.
How often have you minimized your problems and told yourself, “It’s not that bad,” even when things feel overwhelming? I do it all the time, too.
Can you blame us, though? When things get tough, sometimes it’s just comforting to downplay our struggles. It’s a self-soothing mechanism to keep us from going insane and pulling our hair out.
However, there’s also a downside to it. Denying something is really bad leads us to be passive. To not take active steps to solve it.
After all, you can’t fix something you acknowledge is broken, right?
It’s akin to an ostrich burying its head in the sand to avoid danger.
(That, by the way, is another lie. A myth, more accurately. Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the ground. They simply flop down and play dead.
…Which, come to think of it, is similar anyway to the self-denial we do.)
So, are you an ostrich? No, you are a wonderfully strange human being who needs to step up and problem-solve like the boss you are!
5) “I don’t care what people think.”
Yup, another common lie. A classic, even. We like thinking we’re rebels, like we won’t ever be caught trying to suit the norm just to please people.
Let’s be honest – unless we live in a cabin up high in the mountains, completely off-grid, we do care. Even if it’s just the tiniest bit.
As anti-establishment as we’d like to think we are, we’re still wired to be social.
There’s still someone out there whose approval you want. Whether you admit it or not, you’ve felt a sting of envy or doubt when scrolling through social media, for instance.
That sting should tell you that to some extent, external opinions do have some impact on you.
But don’t mistake it for weakness. Caring about what other people think (in moderation) is just an element of what makes you human. Otherwise, you might as well be a robot!
6) “I don’t have time.”
This is a lie I’ve often used to wriggle out of things I didn’t like doing. I’ve used it to justify not exercising regularly, not meeting friends, not doing stuff my mom asks me to do…
But if I’m being honest, I do know what’s up – I’m just not making it a priority, that’s all. When I say I don’t have time, I’m really lying to myself consciously.
Because I know that as busy as I claim to be, I can sit for an hour and scroll on my phone. And we’ve already established that I binge-watch!
So, obviously, I do have the time to do all these responsible things. I just don’t want to be honest and admit I’d rather not do them.
7) “This is just who I am.”
Similar to the lie above, we often say this statement to wriggle out of making necessary, responsible changes.
For instance, maybe your partner told you, “I wish you were more patient.” You retort with, “Well, this is me; this is just who I am.”
Now, maybe that’s true – maybe you really are impatient. But I’d like to gently ask – are you a permanent version? Are you absolutely unable to try and be more patient?
I understand it’s hard to change certain parts of us. Self-improvement is hard work for sure.
But by defaulting to “who you are” as a definition carved in stone, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. You’d be missing out on an opportunity to grow and be a better version of yourself.
8) “I’m fine being single.”
Now, this one’s sure to stir up some sort of violent reaction. But this lie is not for those who are truly happy without a partner.
This one’s for those who long for companionship deep inside, but they don’t want to seem lonely and vulnerable.
Hence, they insist that they’re “fine and don’t need anyone.” In this case, it becomes a front against rejection and judgment instead of being an empowered statement.
If you say this but you’re not really happy being single, there’s no shame in admitting it. It’s absolutely okay to want love and connection!
9) “We’ll be fine, we love each other.”
Right. Love is enough, right?
Not quite. I’ve watched friends tell themselves this lie while stuck in failing relationships.
Instead of buckling down and confronting issues head on, they convince themselves that it will all be okay because they love each other.
The thing is, relationships are complicated. You’d certainly need more than romance to make one work.
So if there are issues, don’t wait for them to pile up. Nor sweep them under the rug. The longer you ignore them, the harder they are to resolve.
Then later on, you’ll find yourself realizing the hundreds of steps you could’ve taken to stop it from crumbling down.
Maybe then you’ll even tell yourself this last lie…
10) “I’m okay.”
And its other variations: “I’m fine.” “It’s all good.”
I do get why we tell ourselves this lie, though. Much like “It’s not that bad”, it’s a way to soothe ourselves.
Once again, I say, how can you fix something if you don’t accept that it’s not okay?
There was a time when I was going through a rough patch and would tell myself this exact lie. I would constantly think I didn’t need any help, that it’s all fine and dandy.
Just because I was saying all of those didn’t mean it was true, though. Eventually, I had to be honest and admit I was feeling pretty sh*tty and could use some help.
Look, feeling unhappy and dissatisfied in life is pretty normal. But if it goes on longer than usual, you might need to face up to the fact that you’re not alright.
Only then can you take actionable steps to truly, genuinely be okay.
The lies we tell ourselves are simply protective mechanisms. But while they may offer short-term comfort, we might just be delaying resolution and missing chances to live authentically.
But you’re here right now reading this article, so you’re already a step ahead. You now know what needs to be done – be honest with yourself and take proactive steps towards a healthier life.
After all, if you want to see honesty from everyone else in your life, why not demand it from yourself as well? You certainly deserve it!