What lies are you telling yourself? Now, given that question, you might feel a bit indignant and might respond, ‘I’m not a liar. I don’t lie to other people and I certainly don’t lie to myself.’ We hope you’ll hang in there with us as we explore this subject further.
We recently talked about feedback and how powerful it is when you receive it from others. We even covered how to receive feedback from others and how to give it to others.
What we missed before and what we’ll cover today is how you give feedback to yourself and the powerful effects your own feedback has on you.
The first thing to realize is that you give yourself feedback all the time. In fact, most of the time you’re not aware of what you’re saying to yourself. The thoughts you have will often be accompanied by pictures in your mind. Here’s how we all do this to ourselves.
Imagine you’re going to give a speech. You can have several thoughts about it. Because our minds often go to the negative, we can say to ourselves, ‘I’m going to make a fool of myself right there in front of everyone.’ Then we’re so creative that we imagine what happens by painting a picture of failing and everyone laughing. That’s how quickly and effectively we label what will happen. So, how did we get there?
We first had the thought that we would fail and be seen as a fool. Next, our brain believes what we tell it, whether it’s true or not. Our body responds with signals to wake us up to the fact that we don’t feel safe. Maybe our heart races, hands sweat, we get short of breath or feel light-headed. These signals get interpreted as impending doom. These types of reactions can often happen to people when they face going to the dentist, having bloodwork taken, and any number of uncomfortable situations.
The interesting thing is that similar reactions can happen when there is something positive about to happen. Some examples of these common reactions are when people are going down the aisle for their wedding or when standing up, about to receive an award. This makes it seem like there is no escape from these unpleasant reactions. But there is!
Here’s where the part of telling yourself a better lie comes in. When you take time to analyze what you’re telling yourself, you’ll often realize that you’re telling yourself some pretty discouraging and even downright scary lies that probably won’t occur. As Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
When you think of a bad outcome lie, how would you feel if instead, you reframed it into something more positive? In some situations, anxiety can be reframed as excitement. Take a few moments and let your logical brain give you some more pleasant outcomes. Both the bad outcome lie and a pleasant outcome lie are only what you tell yourself. Which makes you feel better and respond better?
Your physical body responds to thoughts. When you get tingly feelings in your fingers or other physical signs your body is aroused, notice if your perception of these feelings is positive or negative. If the lie says you’re not going to survive, it’s not true. So change the lie you tell yourself. You don’t really know what will happen, so tell yourself a better lie so you can have a better reaction. Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life can show up no other way than the way you perceive it.”
You may be wondering, what do better lies look like? Better lies don’t put you down or discourage you. In fact, they can motivate and lift you up. Don’t believe lies that you can’t do it. A better lie says that you will do it just fine! Now why that’s a lie, too, is that it might not pull off perfectly, there might be some discomfort. But the better lie, that you will make it just fine, gives you more confidence. Your brain responds to your feedback. Whether it’s a speech, a dentist visit, a walk down the aisle, receiving an award, or something else, it often ends quite well — sometimes better than you could have imagined.
What about you? What lies are you telling yourself? We know that thoughts control feelings. Feelings contribute to beliefs and beliefs contribute to outcomes. Remember, when you tell yourself a better lie, it will help you have a better life.