One? Oy vey! This is a definitely a prompt that has the potential to get real deep, real fast. I’m going to try to avoid falling into that pit, simply because I’m not sure I have the time today to spiral out of control.
At pretty much any given point in time, I’m telling myself at least a half dozen lies. This is especially true because of my anxiety disorders (and owing in part to imposter syndrome as well), which has me constantly questioning everything and then trying to rationalize irrational thoughts and beliefs with the more rational and realistic truths of things to keep myself from either shutting down completely or spiraling into a full panic attack.
I struggle to keep negative self-talk at bay and have to try to counter that with positive, or at the very least, realistic points. Usually, when I meet a goal or in some way or another manage an achievement of some sort, I tend to feel like I’m not deserving of it. I toss if off as some bit of luck or accidental occurrence, never as attributable to any possible skill or talent of my own. I have no real skills or talents, just the illusion of them from time to time. ⬅ That’s a lie I tell myself.
Probably not quite the variety of lying to oneself that this prompt was meant to elicit, but an excellent way to highlight some of the differences in thinking patterns those of us with anxiety and anxiety-related disorders face compared to those who do not experience such.
Other lies I often tell myself include:
- I’m stupid.
- I can’t do it.
- I don’t matter.
- No one cares.
- I’m mean.
- I’m a horrible person.
Each of these has a counterpoint to be made, I just have to try to slow my brain down, try to think it through more clearly while attempting to extract the guttural emotional pangs, and hopefully accept the facts for what they are: facts.
- I am not stupid. Sometimes I am careless or distracted, but that does not equate to stupidity.
- I can probably do it. Most of the time, when I’m telling myself I can’t do something, it’s not at all about the actual ability to do the thing but rather, I’m afraid of doing the thing, afraid of being judged for doing the thing, afraid of making a mistake while doing the thing and being even more harshly judged and eternally embarrassed. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll do the thing successfully and it will create an expectation I’m not prepared to regularly meet. (There’s a lot to talk myself through with this one, because it’s just seething with anxiety!)
- I do matter and people do care. I matter to my kids. I matter to my friends. I matter to me. My absence would be missed by those around me, even when my brain is trying to tell me that I wouldn’t be. Yes, I matter. Yes, my kids, my friends, my family do care. Why else would they reach out to me, or check up on me, or share their lives with me?
- I’m not mean and I’m far from a horrible person. I am hardly ever actually mean, but I feel mean when I set and enforce various boundaries in my life. So, when I need to say no to something or someone I feel like I’m being mean by not doing the thing or helping however. It’s a feeling, it’s not a truth. The truth is often that I don’t realistically have the time, the resources, or the mental space for it at that precise moment in time. That doesn’t mean I’m mean or horrible, it just means I’m recognizing boundaries and taking care of myself. Sometimes that is exactly what a person needs to do—can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first!
I mean, I chose some pretty generic examples to use here, but I was just trying to illustrate the point and the processes. The prompt simply asked “What’s a lie you tell yourself?” and my response could never have been anything other than, Just one? Oy vey.
Link back: Bloganuary • What’s a lie you tell yourself?