“You can fool yourself, you know. You’d think it’s impossible, but it turns out it’s the easiest thing of all.” — Jodi Picoult
Most of us growing up were warned against lying, and being caught in a lie was one of the most embarrassing things you could ever endure. It meant you weren’t smart enough to outwit others, or at least not for long. You felt stupid and you could be ridiculed or even punished for it.
But if there was one person in the world who may never catch on to your lies, it’s you. Moreover, there’s one person who might actually be happy that you lied — it’s you.
We tell ourselves all sorts of stuff to make ourselves feel better, but don’t blame yourself. We are a species that is hardwired to escape pain. It’s only natural.
“Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky
However, when that lie is corrupting your life and you can’t do anything about it because you’re convinced that the lie is actually the truth/good/useful, obviously that’s a problem. You’re never going to be the best version of yourself, if you maintain certain thoughts.
For this reason, I suggest the following:
1. Think of some issue you’re having. It could be some situation you’re stuck in, some repetitive thought or maybe you’ve heard many people make a comment about you and you’re wondering if they’re on to something.
2. Assume one side of the argument. For example, let’s say I’m having issues about my work rate. I think I’m doing alright, but there’s a part of me that thinks that I’m not doing enough and it’s out of fear. I would then say to myself, “I am the me who believes that my work rate is good.”
Write or speak the mindset of this side of yourself. Just let the language flow out naturally. There is no need to think here. This side has an opinion, so just be open to hearing what it has to say. You might be surprised, you might not be. Just hear it out. A pertinent question may pop up in your mind. Feel free to get this perspective’s take on it.
3. When you’re done, let go of this mindset. Just drop it. Then assume the opposite side of the argument. In this example, I would say to myself, “I am the me who believes that I’m not doing enough work.”
4. Now write or speak the mindset of this side of yourself, keeping an open mind and letting the words naturally flow out. If a question pops in, explore it. When you’re done, let go of that mindset.
5. Compare the two sides of the argument. Perhaps one side has a very strong feeling of truth while the other isn’t as strong. In a case like this, realise that while both sides are perfectly valid, one side commands your attention and action more.
Perhaps both are valid, but in varying contexts. Perhaps one side completely caved and admitted that the other side is right. It varies. What’s important is that you listen and value what both sides have said and then act in accordance to what either side is saying.
What this process does is that it forces you to look keenly on one side of an argument. Usually, when we’re in a conflict, we have one side of us pulling in one direction and another side of us pulling in the opposite direction.
This is why we find it difficult to be settled in a certain thought, behaviour or life situation. And things don’t change or get clarified until we resolve the internal tug-of-war.
“Stop lying to yourself. When we deny our own truth, we deny our own potential.” — Steve Maraboli
It isn’t always easy and we may often miss the opportunity to check within ourselves, even when the world is reflecting our own internal chaos, but if we commit to being honest with ourselves, we can finally begin to push the handbrake on our lives down and start moving with some decent speed.