We all have this little voice in our heads, chattering away behind the scenes. Stuff like, “You’re too fat. You’re not good enough. You’ll never get promoted. You don’t have what it takes. No one will like it. Why do I try? Who cares?” It’s a sadistic, negative little voice. Sometimes.
Other times, a dose of optimism courses through our being and the little voice becomes a cheerleader. It prattles on with encouragements like, “You’re the best. You can do this. You are beautiful. You are special. You’re a superstar.” Sounds nice. Encouraging. Maybe even helpful for the moment. Except the voice is unreliable. Sometimes it forewarns us. Other times it leads us astray.
Self-limiting thoughts or egocentric blandishments. Either way, that little voice can’t be trusted. We all lie to ourselves. Some of us do a decent job of honest, self evaluation. But we often have our blind spots and misperceptions. And that’s a problem, because it distracts us from living a more joyful life.
Best selling author Joshua Becker is a self-described “minimalist.” His popular website, BecomingMinimalist.com, is all about choosing a simpler life. Less things and more living.
Becker’s recent post “9 Easy Ways To Become Unsatisfied With Life” outlines behavior that leads to unhappiness. Things like focusing on ourselves, worshiping money, blaming others, etc.
My favorite in Becker’s list is “Hide your true self.” Why do we find it so hard to be, or become, our authentic self? Failing to grow into who we were meant to be robs others and ourselves of so much.
Throughout life we often find heroes to look up to. People we’d like to be like. Such individuals can inspire us to become more or to improve who we are. But we should never forget our own uniqueness. That’s the thing that sets us apart from everybody else.
The little voice in our head is always comparing, complaining, worrying. It tells us to copy the person we admire. Try to be like that person. Which is fine up to a point. But we can never be someone else. Nor should we want to be a cheap imitation.
Other voices can chip away at our authenticity. Sometimes parents refuse to accept all or part of who their children are. Maybe a father frowns on a son’s desire to be an artist. Or a mother refuses to accept her daughter’s sexuality.
It takes bravery to step out of the shadows of other’s expectations and be who you really are. Yet, if we are to live a joyful life, we must stop lying to ourselves and take what our internal voice says with a grain of salt.
How do you know if you’re lying to yourself? Basically, it just doesn’t feel right. It gnaws at you. Like the guy who refuses to address his alcoholism. He denies his addiction. Tells himself he can stick to just a few glasses. But the craving persists. Deep down, he knows. He’s lying to himself.
Or the woman who swears that her abusive husband will change. He seemed really apologetic the last time he hit her. Maybe this time will be different. But of course she knows the truth.
Interestingly, just as the little voice inside our head can lie to us, other times it can be spot on. It’s like a charitable friend who says you look fabulous in that new outfit. But if you probe long enough and ask for the truth, the friend will admit that yes, maybe you do need to lose a few pounds.
If you want a joyful life, stop lying to yourself. Fact check that little voice, but keep listening for the occasional kernels of truth. Allow your authentic self to emerge, so that the world can experience and benefit from the real you.
There are many pebbles on the beach. All are slightly different. Similarly, people are all different. Such is the natural order of the world. Which is why we shouldn’t fight it. We were meant to be who we are.
There are enough charlatans running around. Be who you were meant to be, and live the life you long to embrace.