Whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right.Henry Ford
The power of your truth
We have all lied to ourselves.
From the grade school lie of “Well, I don’t wanna go to the stupid party anyway!” – when you weren’t invited.
There are also lies we tell as adults, such as “I love my job” or “We’re doing great!” – when you actually feel like you’re wasting your life in an unfulfilled role or feeling more alone than ever with your significant other.
Sometimes, because we can’t yet envision the steps for getting to where we want to go, we alter our truth. We say we’re OK, we’re happy, we’re just fine being where we are.
Doing this blocks the expression of our truth.
But what if we can open up life’s possibilities with the simple and small step of first telling ourselves the truth?
We lie by letting the “how” get in the way of our “what”
There’s nothing inherently wrong if you can relate to this. This is something we’ve all done at some point in our lives.
It’s natural to believe our truth may be too unrealistic, unreasonable, idealistic, or unattainable when we’re overwhelmed by the “how.”
In fact, it’s common for almost none of us to know the “how” behind our dreams yet. Because, if you knew how to achieve your dreams, you’d likely already be there. But the “how” actually comes to you after you tell yourself the truth.
After you name what you want, your brain and the universe will collaborate to get you there. The first step, however, is being truthful and naming what you want so that your brain knows that’s important to prioritize.
If we keep saying, “I don’t wanna go to the party anyway,” we’re probably not ever going to go. Because that’s the lens through which we will engage with the topic of the party, preventing our brain from opening up possibilities for us to attend.
Letting the “how” get in the way of our “what” harms us in two ways:
First, we sabotage ourselves when we jump to conclusions about our future without really knowing. Fortune telling is a thinking trap.
The second way it harms us is that we end up lying and keeping secrets that can make us ill. I’ll share an interesting study on this later.
Why do we lie to ourselves?
One of the reasons why we lie is because most of us don’t even think we’re lying as we’re doing it. It’s a natural human reaction to rationalize our decisions so that we feel more empowered rather than feeling like a victim to our circumstances. Rationalization can protect our self-esteem.
This is why we say “I don’t wanna go to your stinkin’ party anyway.”
However, when we overuse rationalization, it can become unhelpful.
Our rationalizations become our lies and our secrets.
Here are some common lies we tell ourselves that can dim our spirits over time:
- I’m happy with my situation
- I don’t need help
- This is what I prefer
- I chose this for myself
- This is who I am
- I believe in this
- This is what I want
When, in fact, the secrets that we carry sound more like:
- My heart’s not in it
- I need some help and support
- I’m bored out of my mind
- I would make different choices if I could
- I don’t like who I’m becoming
- I don’t trust this
- I changed my mind
We lie to ourselves to protect ourselves from disappointments.
Over time, this causes us to fall out of integrity with ourselves – especially if we’ve been rationalizing for a long time. Sometimes it’s hard to even know if we’re being our true selves.
Let’s do a quick experiment now. How often have you experienced the following instances?
- Smile or laugh when you want to do the opposite
- Say yes or no when you feel the opposite
- Saying you’re fine when you’re really not
- Saying something you don’t mean
- Asking for less than what you need
- Censoring yourself around certain people
- Dialing down your excitement or joy to make others feel better
- Hiding your pain and sorrow to present yourself as “stronger”
- Putting things off that are important to you
We all do this from time to time – in large part because it’s the conventional norm – but, the more we engage in these behaviors, the less we are being our true selves.
We end up telling lies to ourselves and holding onto tiny secrets that build on each other. Tiny as they may be, these secrets keep us up at night, make us ill, and drain the life out of us.
How do lies hurt us?
The weight of the lies and secrets that you carry creates stress on your entire system over time, compromising your immune system. Every time you think about your secret, the stress hormone cortisol can be released, which has negative effects on our learning, memory, blood pressure, gut, and even metabolism.
Professor Michael Slepian of Columbia University studies the stress of secrecy and finds that keeping secrets harms our wellbeing. Even more interesting is that he identified something called “mind-wandering” secrets that harm us even more than keeping a secret.
This means the harmful secrets to our wellbeing are the ones that no one would even consider asking us but that we think about all the time.
But we don’t need research to tell us what we already know. We all know it’s less stressful to not share a friend’s secret and more stressful to carry the weight of how we’re really feeling about our job, our relationships, our past, or our future.
Not speaking our truth is soul-crushing and chews at us every day. The author Martha Beck describes her experience of lying to herself as feeling like “soul murder” – a horrific thought, but about right.
We might have started rationalization as a self-protection strategy, but, in the long run, it results in less protection and more harm.
If you notice this, you can choose a different strategy. Instead of rationalization, you can choose to tell yourself the truth.
Why does every philosophy and religion in the world talk about seeking truth? Because the truth will set you free.
Five practices to foster truth-telling
Sometimes you’re not even aware that you’re keeping secrets because you haven’t asked yourself for the truth. The following practices help you discover and articulate your own truth.
1. Know when it’s noise
There are many voices and opinions around you, but only some of the perspectives actually resonate with our own truth – and you’ll feel that. Most voices probably don’t resonate. All of that which doesn’t? That’s noise. Even as you read my blogs or listen to my podcast, not everything is going to resonate, and that’s OK. Take what speaks to you and leave behind everything else that doesn’t serve you.
As for your truth, you don’t have to “find” it like it’s somewhere out there lost and waiting to be found. It’s already within you; on some level, you already know it. It’s just all of the noise that can distract you from what’s true for you.
To reconnect with your truth, practice dialing down the noise, being still, and differentiating what’s others and what’s yours.
2. Get to know what are you afraid of
Behind every lie, there’s an “I’m afraid” of losing safety or love.
- I’m going to giggle at your unfunny joke because I’m afraid, if I don’t, you’re not going to like me
- I’m going to stay in my crappy situation because I’m afraid, if don’t, I’m going to lose security
- I’m going to hide that I need help because, otherwise, I’m afraid you’re going to leave
To make this personal for you, think back to the earlier experiment in this post. What do you notice about yourself doing or saying something that isn’t true for you? What are you afraid of losing by sharing your truth?
Practice noticing the lie and getting curious about what it’s protecting you from. Is it safety, is it love, or both?
3. Visualize, don’t analyze
As social beings, we mimic others. This is great for bonding and learning new skills, but not effective for tapping into what’s uniquely true for you.
Assessing what’s “doable” through observing what others are doing will limit your own possibilities.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”
For years, athletes believed running a mile in less than four minutes was a physical impossibility for humans because no one in recorded history had done it – until Roger Bannister broke the record and showed the world that it was possible. Since Roger first achieved the feat, athletes have continued to break this record.
Instead of looking at what’s true and can be accomplished by other people, visualize what you want, irrespective of what others are doing.
You have just one unique life – you don’t want to be a copy of someone else. Explore what’s uniquely yours that needs to be expressed. hat’s your contribution to advancing our planet.
4. Seek wisdom from your higher or wiser self – your spirit
Often, when we say things like “I just want to be responsible or practical,” that’s our head speaking, which is molded largely by our environment. It’s useful to help us engage in our day-to-day lives, paying our bills, following the rules – everything we associate with being a functioning member of society.
However, when we want to access our truth and what we really desire, it’s our higher self with whom we want to consult. This is the part of yourself that’s ageless, naturally abundant, without a job title, without a nationality or ethnicity, and maybe even genderless. People call this part of themselves their spirit, their soul, their inner wisdom, their intuition, their higher self, their big-S self, or their heart.
Whichever term resonates with you, this is the part of you that’s inextricably connected to the universe. This is the part of you that’s a part of and moved by the beauty and power of nature. This is the part of you that celebrates peace and love.
This is the part of you that has always guided you. Even as a child, when you hadn’t learned a thing about the world, you understood in some ways more than the adults around you when it came to what matters most in life.
Practice connecting with this part of yourself and get curious about what it wants to express and experience.
5. Notice your truth responding
Everything has an energetic impact on our being. Everything from who we’re with, what we do, the music we listen to, and the ideas that we engage with can recharge and light us up or drain and dim us.
When something resonates with your truth, you will feel it in your whole body. In musical terms, this is called resonant frequency – like an inner bell that’s rung in response to a similar frequency in the environment. You might lean in, get expanded, feel energized, feel lighter, get brighter, get inspired, or move your body.
On the other hand, when something isn’t resonating with your truth, your whole body experiences the opposite. You might lean back, feel constricted, become smaller, feel tightness, feel blocked, feel drained, get dimmer.
Letting your truth drive your “how”
The very first step to not letting your “how” get in the way of your truth is to begin with naming what you actually want.
This will signal to your brain and the universe to join forces to guide you toward your next step.
Instead of letting the mind – or the “how” – determine the direction of your truth, tap into your soul, spirit, and heart and listen to what you really want. Then ask your brain to do what it does best: problem solve and help you achieve your goals.
As the saying from The Alchemist goes: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
If you found this helpful, consider sharing it.