The other day, I was reflecting on the things that I tell myself — both good and bad. Often, I hear the argument that if you wouldn't say it to a friend, you shouldn't say it to yourself. However, it seems like we love to be our own worst critics. We often preach about surrounding ourselves with people that uplift us, but we forget the influence that we have on ourselves.
Friends, the way that we talk to ourselves matters. How we choose to live our lives is a snapshot of the things we tell ourselves on a daily basis. Don't allow yourself to fall victim to lies that are easy to believe. Instead, take time to let difficulty transform you. Growth happens when we don't run away, and the first step in being comfortable with ourselves is knowing the truth. The way you talk to yourself matters more than you know — fill your soul with truth.
Lie 1: Everything is going to be OK.
Truth: Everything is not going to be OK. Start making peace with that.
The idea that everything is going to always be OK is tempting, but it's harmful. When we decide that everything is going to be OK, we unintentionally shut out the experiences that will grow us. If something doesn't serve us at the moment, we shut it out. When we say everything is OK, we put a band-aid on the issue instead of addressing it. While it would be much simpler to bypass any struggles in life, these moments are critical. It's the hard moments that make us who we are, and if we forfeit them, we lose who we could become.
Lie 2: Their success is my failure.
Truth: This life is not a competition. When others win, we win, too. Cheer them on.
It seems like our ideas of success almost always revolve around comparison. If you get passed up for a job, it's because someone else is better. If someone compliments her outfit, it must mean that yours isn't good enough. We spend so much of our time trying to prove who we are that we forfeit the journey. My challenge to you is to let them win, whatever that may look like. When you surrender, you'll realize that it was never a competition.
Lie 3: If I have a significant other, I'll be happy.
Truth: Another person will not heal your pain or complete you.
So often, we confuse being wanted with being chosen. Yes, read that again. People are not band-aids. You don't need to run back to your ex or find a boyfriend right after a break-up. Can other people distract you from your past? Sure, but that gratification is fleeting. Another person will not save your self-image or give you a purpose in life. Instead of searching for someone else to give you purpose, find it yourself. Invest in your faith, community, or your own development. Then, when you're ready, you'll be able to commit and choose someone for the right reasons, and that makes all the difference.
Lie 4: If I'm not busy, I'm not working hard enough.
Truth: Busyness is not a badge.
Yes, I hope you find something that you're passionate about. I hope you find something that gives you a sense of purpose, but I hope you take time to rest and consider why you are doing these things. Last week, someone told me that busyness is not a virtue. In our society, it seems like we are constantly judged based on our outputs, what we do, and how well we do it. If a friend asks us to hang out, we say that we're busy even if we aren't. We put so much of an emphasis on achievement that we feel guilty when we need to rest. The world tells us that if we want to be of significance, we need to be busy. In reality, being busy distracts us from the things that really matter. Set less of an emphasis on achieving and more on living intentionally. Take time to watch the sunset and take in the moments that seem like a waste of time now. Looking back, these will be the things you'll remember.
Lie 5: I don't have enough time for that.
Truth: You make time for what matters to you.
Let that sink in. I often get so consumed in work that I forget to take care of myself or make time for other people. Constantly ask yourself, "Is what matters to me reflected in how I choose to spend my time?" Your work will always be there, but others won't. Your stress will always be there. If you have time to write a paper, you have time for a nap. If you have time to check your email, you have time to call your mom. If you have time to worry about an assignment, you also have time to go wait in line for ice cream and buy your dog a pup cup (ice cream doesn't fix everything, but it does wonders, I promise).
Lie 6: I'm a bad person if I say no.
Truth: You don't owe anyone anything.
You have every right to be selective about your life, and yes, this includes people. So often, we feel responsible for another person's happiness, when that is quite simply not our job. You don't need to save the world. You don't owe them a front-row seat to your life. You don't owe them a hook-up or a phone call or a dinner date. You don't owe them trust. By all means, you need to respect them and treat them with kindness, but trust is earned. When we fall into a cycle of owing other people, we consume ourselves with guilt. Realize that you owe yourself sanity and remove everything that isn't serving that purpose.
Lie 7: Everyone else has it all together.
Truth: No one really has it figured out. This life is a highlight reel.
No matter how much someone seems to have it all together, we're all human. We all make mistakes and have moments where we question if others have something that we're missing. We see someone at the store with a full face of makeup on and we assume that she lives in a house with a white picket fence and a golden retriever. We see someone order an apple instead of bread at Panera and we assume that she has the perfect workout schedule. Friends, consider just how often others say these things about us. We're seeing only a glimpse of the truth. Give each other grace, but don't forget to give some to yourself, too.
Lie 8: If I fix this one thing, life will be good.
Truth: We're missing the best moments of our life by wishing for something better.
All too often, we put so much effort into making our life good that we fail to see the good that is already in front of us. We base our entire purpose on one thing that we want to change instead of the things that are already going right. The only thing that we can change to improve our lives is our perspective. We need to intentionally count our blessings instead of obsessing over our inconveniences. We need to encourage before we criticize. We need to seek the good instead of waiting for it to come to us.
Lie 9: I need to constantly improve myself.
Truth: You don't need to hold yourself to higher standards than your past self every single time.
Growth is not linear. Sometimes, growth looks like failing to the rest of the world. Right now, my personal growth looks like letting go. Sometimes, growth looks like making a mistake to other people. So often, we push ourselves to unhealthy levels not only to compete with others but also with past versions of ourselves. When we hold ourselves to unrealistic standards, we miss the point. We miss what really matters and in doing so, we stress ourselves out. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Remember to be kind to yourself, too. When you give yourself room to be human, you'll be amazed at what you can do.
Lie 10: It doesn't matter.
Truth: Chances are, it does matter. Allow yourself to let it matter, whatever "it" might be.
Often, we try to protect ourselves by distancing ourselves and pretending that things don't matter. Let things matter. Feeling deeply is not a crutch, but an opportunity to be human to the fullest. I hope that you are honest with your emotions instead of putting them away. Too many opportunities are left untouched because people are unable to let things matter. Tell them how you feel. Say sorry and mean it. Life is too short to have it any other way.
Lie 11: They'll forget about it.
Truth: People don't forget how you make them feel.
Yes, people will most likely forget that you wore mismatched shoes to your 8 a.m. lecture. They will most certainly forget that time that your hair was slightly out of place. They will forget that one time you stumbled over your words in the middle of talking to them. Do you know what they won't forget, friends? They won't forget how they feel when they're around you. They won't forget how you make them feel about themselves and others. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, but don't forget that you have the same responsibility for others. Speak life into them. Show up for them, even and especially when it's difficult.
Lie 12: Love goes both ways.
Truth: Love is sacrificial, not beneficial.
I'm a huge fan of "The Bachelor" so I'm well-versed in what our culture deems love to be. So often, I hear that the reason that relationships fail is that love wasn't reciprocated. I used to agree that love was a two-way street. However, when we say that love is a two-way street, we forget what love is supposed to be. If we're only loving so that we can receive love in return, we're missing the point. Yes, in a loving relationship, both sides should feel supported, but that shouldn't be the goal. When love stops being beneficial, it gets real. It gets hard, but I would much rather be in a relationship that has the right foundation than one that is fleeting. When you understand what loving others well means, you'll understand how to love yourself better, too.
May you realize that you are greater than the lies in your head. May you understand that you are worthy of everything good that comes your way. You aren't alone, friend, so take these truths to heart. Let them sink into your soul. Let them change you. Let the difficulty challenge you instead of making you run away. It's a process. You'll want to quit, but remember that the person you spend the most time with is yourself. Make yourself good company to have around. You'll be better for it. I promise.