Lies We Tell Ourselves and Why They’re Killing Us
It’s not uncommon to feel stressed, anxious, and even fearful in today’s challenging and rapidly changing world. But we also live in an age of unprecedented access to information and opportunities for self-advancement. However, instead of focusing on what is possible now, many of us have been led to believe that we must first find our “authentic self” before we can take action towards our own betterment. Instead of focusing on finding opportunities, many people are being spoon-fed a message that believes the path to happiness lies in embracing our weakness as a strength; failure as a friend; brokenness as an opportunity for growth; and skewed statistics as proof that we live in a society where opportunity only exists for a limited few. As a result, many people are still struggling to find their authentic selves for 20 years and are no closer today than when they started. These lies have become so prevalent that they need to be identified and exposed for what they really are: Poisonous false ideologies that are killing us.
“We are born to be warriors, not worriers.”
When we were kids, we didn’t think about how we’re going to pay for retirement or the best way to budget our expenses; we were carefree, had endless energy, and were eager to tackle any challenge thrown at us. This fearlessness is still inside us, but it’s been tempered by years of being told we’re not good enough in many different ways: Our parents/teachers/peers/media told us our creativity didn’t matter; we were too slow, too lazy, too weak, and not good enough. Many people work for organizations where the term “transformation” really means standardization and creativity is not valued.
While it’s true that we are not built for prolonged stress and worry, that doesn’t mean we have to ignore the world’s problems. There is a difference between being anxious and being aware. Warriors are aware of their surroundings; they are aware that some people are in need, and they’re prepared to do something about it. The next time you feel anxious, remind yourself that you were born to be a warrior, not a worrier.
“Our weaknesses make us losers.”
Our weaknesses come in many forms: We may lack confidence and self-esteem, be bad at time management, be poor with money, or have a fear of public speaking. The list is endless because people are all different, and that’s what makes us unique and interesting. Unfortunately, many people believe that their weaknesses are a sign of being inherently bad at life and that if they want to succeed, they need to “kill their weaknesses,” which is impossible.
We are all biologically programmed to be bad at some things and good at others. In fact, studies show that the most successful people are actually those who embrace their weaknesses because they learn to manage them. We tell ourselves if you’re bad at something and you’re not willing to change that, then you’re a loser. If you’re bad at something and you have the humility to acknowledge it, the drive to improve, and the support to get help, then you’re not a loser.
“Failure is bad.”
For many people, failure is something to be avoided at all costs and is a sign of weakness. While no one wants to fail, failure is an inevitable part of life. In fact, it is estimated that the average person will fail at something 12 times before they ever succeed. Unfortunately, many of us have been led to believe that the path to success is full of successes. Instead of focusing on getting better, many people are so focused on not failing that they never even start. Instead of seeing failure as an opportunity to do better, many people are so terrified of failing that they refuse to even try. But success only comes from trying, and trying is the only way to overcome our fears. So next time you’re facing a challenge, don’t focus on avoiding failure; focus on getting better.
“You must be broken.”
In a society that is obsessed with labeling and diagnosing people, it has become common to think that you are broken if you struggle with something. But it’s important to understand that not everyone who struggles with something is broken. In fact, the root of many of our problems is that we don’t know how to cope with our feelings.
Many of us have been taught to ignore our feelings and not talk about them because we’re “being dramatic.” Unfortunately, ignoring our problems doesn’t make them go away. It actually feeds them because they become bigger and bigger.
If you’re struggling with something, that doesn’t mean you’re broken, it just means you’re human. During difficult times, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to push feelings down and out of your mind. But if you want to overcome your challenges, you first need to learn how to cope with your feelings, and not avoid them. Otherwise, they have a way of leaking out in times and ways you won’t want them to.
“The world is full of suffering, so find success where you can.”
The world is full of suffering, but it’s also full of joy, hope, and opportunity. Unfortunately, many people believe that suffering is inevitable, so they choose to close their eyes to the good things in life. They’d rather focus on the suffering around them than to find the joy in their own lives. However, the only way to overcome the suffering in the world is to focus on the joy in your own life. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, there is something to be grateful for. There is a way that you can make someone else’s life better. Even if you’re working a job that you don’t particularly care about, you can find joy in it by finding ways to make it better. Even if you have bills to pay, you can find ways to make extra money. And even if you have people in your life that make you feel uncomfortable, you can find ways to make your relationship with them better.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2022
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2300 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV on YouTube, and Amazon, as well as on BingeNetworks.tv for Apple TV and 90+ smart sets.
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