It’s time to stop telling ourselves the lies we’ve believed since childhood, for our own mental health and for our kids.
A few months ago, I read a humorous article called 10 White Lies We All Tell, And Just in Time for National Honesty Day. I had no idea there was such a thing as National Honesty Day.
My first thought was, shouldn’t every day be honesty day? But then I quickly answered that question in my own head, then took a moment to remember how frequently we are all bombarded with lies of all shapes, sizes and colors. You know…the ones that we categorize as either little, big, black or white.
I know one thing for sure.
I don’t like being lied to. I absolutely hate finding out that someone has deliberately set out to deceive me and even worse, that they’ve succeeded. The whole experience leaves me with a sinking feeling of betrayal and wondering how stupid do they think I am to be suckered in on their lie? And every worse, nobody’s pants ever did catch on fire!
I bet you are like me, too. I bet you’ve been lied to plenty of times in your life and every time you realized what happened, you were probably left feeling angry, hurt and confused. The sad part is that many times, we even blame ourselves for believing the lie instead of being kind to ourselves and knowing that it was the person that told the lie that is at fault.
Then, sometimes we realize that we are the ones who told the lie.
In our minds, there’s usually plenty of justification for it, though. Given enough time, it’s pretty easy to come up with a list of reasons why the truth being told in that situation just wasn’t the best thing to do. The very thing we found so disgusting in someone else’s behavior, we have all done. Whether it was as a kid when we lied to our teacher about why our homework didn’t get done or as an adult when we told a friend we were busy the weekend they needed help moving, we’ve all done it.
Did our parents lie to us when we were kids?
As a kid, we probably all experienced our parents telling us a big fib now and then for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was something about the tooth fairy, or that eating raw cookie dough would give you worms, or one of my favorites, that oil spots on the street were little kids that got run over because they didn’t hold anyone’s hand while crossing the street. Hopefully, as we became adults and parents ourselves, we outgrew those fibs and no longer believed in those childhood illusions.
We still believe some left over lies.
But what I’ve learned over time in talking with and coaching many parents about issues in raising their kids is that there are huge lies many people still believe since childhood. These lies are controlling them every day, keeping them stuck and unfulfilled. These lies are so cunning that they hide deep inside of us only venturing to come out when we begin to take an action that dares to challenge their validity.
As a dad, understanding the tremendous power you have in being intentional about what you export to your kids is the single most important factor in raising healthy, happy kids. If you don’t spend some time uncovering these lies and dealing with them, you will pass them along to your kids. It’s guaranteed.
These lies are like mind viruses.
We use them as excuses to justify our own unhappiness, poor health and lack of success. Just like the viruses that we experience in our physical body that tend to spread on contact, mind viruses do exactly the same thing. According to Richard Brodie, author of Virus of the Mind, “it’s a thought, belief, or attitude in your mind that can spread to and from other people’s minds.”
By the age of six or seven, every one one of us has been programmed with an endless catalog of mind viruses. Some are good; some are bad. But in all cases, they stay with us until we decide to confront them and determine if they serve us or harm us.
Ever heard your dad’s voice coming out of your mouth while you’re talking to your kids and wonder where that came from? It’s all in there, whether we are aware of it or not.
The mind viruses and lies that don’t serve us well show up as excuses.
One of the easiest ways to become more aware of these mind viruses is to listen to the huge inventory of excuses that we use routinely either in our thoughts or what we actually say and do.
Excuses are really just lies that keep us in a rut and never allow us to break free from them to even consider that there might be a better way of thinking. They may sound like valid reasons to us at first, but they don’t help us move forward.
Here are some examples.
- I’ll always have an anger problem.
- I want to parent my kids in a different and better way, but if I make those suggestions, there will just be too much family drama.
- I’d like to change, but it will just be too difficult.
- I’d like to have a better relationship with my kids after the divorce, but it’s just not possible.
Every single excuse or lie that we tell ourselves keeps us stuck and unable to move forward in a positive direction. A lie that says that we weren’t deserving, or good enough, or smart enough might have started when we were young, but it can have long lasting impact in your role as a dad.
As a dad, you have incredible influence in your kid’s lives.
In any frustration you may be feeling as a dad due to busy schedules, shared parenting roles, or even toxic interactions, there’s good news. You have the incredible power to be intentional about what gets planted in your kids’ minds at a very early age.
In my own life, I lived for many years believing everything that ran around in my head was legitimate and worthy of me believing it. It wasn’t until I got sick and tired of all my excuses for my lack of success that things changed for me.
I started challenging those lies that I had been told by others and repeated to myself.
I asked myself, “is that really true about me, or is it just some lie that I’ve believed all my life?” When you ask yourself that question and honestly answer it, you’ve just taken the first step to ridding yourself of the mind virus that otherwise would keep you stuck. It’s also a huge step in starting a new truth for your kids.
Getting honest can feel like a lonely business.
When a person decides to make some tough changes in their lives, one of the greatest lies they tell me is “no one will help me.” That lie is one of the most vicious ones around because it causes us to isolate ourselves from the very people that can help us.
Being willing to talk to those we trust about how we see ourselves is very healthy. When we do that, we can gain a better understanding that others probably don’t see us as we see ourselves. That is a huge confidence booster!
Confront yourself in honesty.
Whatever lie, mind virus or excuse that tops your list of things keeping you from moving forward, the first step to take is a willingness to confront it with honesty.
We can’t control what viruses other people spread into our minds as a six or seven year old. But as adults and dads, we can make ourselves aware of them, confront them, see them for the lies that they are and give ourselves a new truth not only for us, but for our kids.
You deserve it and so do they.
Unedited Photo: Flickr/Mindaugas Danys