Self

The Lies You Tell Yourself In Order To Stay Miserable

Photo: SS Aleshyn Andrei / shutterstock.com
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Almost all human beings are factory-equipped with a Public Address (PA) System embedded in their brains.

This PA system generally makes you who you think you are — because it talks to you as though it were you. It shows up in that little, frequently nagging voice that tells you when you’re being stupid, warns you when a risk (real or imagined) looms ahead and starts speaking out of nowhere advising you on what you should or shouldn’t do.

That voice. It can be the most insistent, disempowering voice in the universe, and it chatters nonstop for most of us.

That voice isn’t you. That voice is just pretending to be you. You believe it’s you and it’s not.

That voice is a liar.

The lies your brain tells you are designed to protect you from both failure and success. Below are six broad categories of public address lies designed to keep you insecure, preventing you from being your best, and the truths hiding behind the curtain.

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Lie 1: Resistance is powerful.

Your voice encourages you to resist obligations and opportunities (pleasant as well as unpleasant) because the PA system is broadcasting “I don’t want to.” In fact, your voice assures you that nobody can make you do anything.

Sometimes, overwhelmed by the cacophony of the PA system, not even you can make you. So, you wallow in inaction with the PA’s “I am powerful in my resistance” droning in the background.

Truth 1: Resistance is pointless.

Many of us dread filing income tax returns and eventually, we file them anyway. You fret about tackling your financial records for months on end when you could get the job done in far less time (“far less time” here means hours rather than months).

You don’t have to make yourself do this — you simply override the PA for a moment, agree with yourself that you will do this, and then do it.

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Lie 2: You are inadequate, and the situation is hopeless.

This lie comes in many flavors. Your voice says: “I’m a loser. I’m not good enough. I’m not important. I’m not smart enough. I’m wrong. I always screw up.” And the PA might then broadcast: “I’ve tried everything. Nothing works. Nothing is ever going to work. Why bother at all?”

And when you achieve success, there’s your PA system attributing your success to luck. According to your voice, you’re just pretending to be capable. Everybody else is better than you at everything.

Truth 2: You are more than adequate, and the situation is not hopeless.

You — and everyone else on the planet — is unique, gifted with talents and abilities that make you capable and masterful. If you don’t believe this, ask others who love you what they appreciate about you. Accept that their image of you is more reliable than your own.

Sure, you may have screwed up this time. That doesn’t make you pathetic and doesn’t mean that you will always screw up. Go for the gold.

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Lie 3: You’re on your own.

The PA system would have you believe that you’re on your own, isolated and independent: “I don’t need help.” Maybe its message is that you cannot trust others, others don’t care about what happens to you, or others are well-meaning and yet unreliable.

Possibly the PA message is that nobody else can do the job as well as you can and so you sensibly can rely only on yourself.

Truth 3: You’re not on your own.

Very few of us live completely isolated lives. You have friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and others you interact with on a regular basis. Most would be delighted to help you. Any one of them would offer you support if you simply asked.

Talking to others is one tool that can help you effectively override the PA system. The conversion is the answer to almost every problem. Reach out and talk to someone.

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Lie 4: Being insignificant is safer and more comfortable than being significant.

Like the Wizard of Oz, your voice wants to run the show from behind the curtain and it does this by hiding your abilities and downplaying your successes. If you succeed, people may notice — and then your hidden voice will have to navigate a higher standard of purposeful action.

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Better, according to the PA system, to keep other people’s expectations low: other people won’t expect much of you and you’ll never disappoint them by failing.

Truth 4: Being significant is the path to powerful life.

Being insignificant may feel comfortable at any given moment but will ultimately disappoint. It will never bring you happiness or joy or success. Set goals — big goals — for yourself, goals that will make a difference not only in your life but also in the lives of others.

Strive to obtain them. Invite others to join you on this powerful path you’re walking. Share your accomplishments and failures while celebrating the journey of making a difference.

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Lie 5: Life’s not fair and it’s not your fault.

Despite your best efforts, life won’t always go your way. Life is littered with accidental falls, misplaced papers, spilled coffee, and pandemics.

Your PA system whines, “It’s just not fair. I’ve done everything I was supposed to do and the results aren’t there.” And then comes the refrain, “It’s not my fault. How can anybody blame me?”

And, because life goes the way it goes, this cycle endlessly repeats.

Truth 5: Life is what it is, fair and not fair.

The PA system rages against the maelstrom of life’s unexpected upsets. It is not going to help you batten down the hatches and prepare for the next storm.

What is there for you to do? Keep calm and carry on. Steady yourself and prepare to take on your life, headfirst, whatever your life throws at you. As the Stoic Seneca counseled, to bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden.

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Lie 6: You’re the only one who has thoughts like these.

According to your voice, you’re the only one who feels this way. You’re troubled and ashamed and cannot tell anybody because nobody else would understand. Everybody else is perfect — perfectly in control of their own lives, thoughts, and emotions.

You’re the only one who is not in control of yourself, your feelings, your reactions, or your emotions. The PA message is that you are the only miserable, unhappy person on the planet and oh so alone.

Truth 6: Everyone has thoughts like these.

Sometimes you recognize the nonsense broadcast by your own PA system. What you might not recognize is that everybody lives with a similar PA system in their heads. The recordings come from the same set of master tapes, incessantly broadcasting gobbledygook to all of us.

You, while you may not realize it, are in the same boat that every other human being is in. Trust that we all fear to fail in similar ways.

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You are a fully capable human being who can create a brilliant life for yourself.

The PA system is always going to be with you and, while it’s a tricky system to master, it is tameable.

If you approach the PA system mindfully, you can both quiet its negative rumblings and, over time, train it to provide more positive messages. Understand and work with your PA system, and coach it from the dark side into the light. You’ll enable yourself to achieve a more satisfying life.

Recognize that you’re a fully capable human being who deserves a bold, joyful, fulfilled life. You, knowingly or unknowingly (with the aid of your personal PA), create your own life.

You contribute to the lives of the people around you, in small ways and big. Create a brilliant life for yourself and those you love.

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Susan Kulakowski, MBA/MS, is a writer who has been actively pursuing personal and professional development since 2017. Her focus is on making personal development courses available for children and their families. 

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