3 Bullshit Things You Need To Stop Telling Yourself
The first time I thought about running away from my life was in 2012. While most 20 year-olds would look forward to parties, dating and graduating college, I was burning out.
Out of my own free will, I had chosen to work 10 hours a day at 19 years old, and study for another 4 hours per day to earn my public accounting degree as soon as legally possible.
It won't be fun, but it'll be worth it.
That's the story I told myself.
And it's a story that's turned out to be true many years later.
At the time, I had no concrete reason to believe the statement, "It won't be fun, but it'll be worth it"
There's no way I could prove it to anyone mathematically. A logician could easily corner me in an argument and say my assumption is baseless.
And they'd probably be right.
And yet, that little sentence has gotten me through some very difficult days.
However, this kind of naïve optimism has gotten harder and harder to maintain with time.
We are more likely to believe, "I am never going to have ______, let me pick something that’s within reach" rather than, "I can have ______ if I am persistent and patient"
Especially when it’s a goal that we’ve subliminally marked as 'out of reach' or even perhaps, 'out of my league’.
Logically, there's no absolute truth to either statement.
There's no way for you or I to sit across from each other and prove mathematically which of the two statements is the truth. We can't even prove which of these statements is closer to the truth than the other.
And yet, I've discovered that I've lived so much of my life believing some very strange things. All of which cannot be proven but feel like the absolute truth.
Over time, I've learnt to call bullshit on these for my own peace of mind.
Here’s my top 3. I hope that after reading through them you won’t be held back because of these thoughts in the future.
Good things like these don’t happen to people like me
All my life, I’ve never won at Housie or Bingo or Tambola. Heck, I’ve never even won a lucky draw. And it’s made me very skeptical about the idea of good luck and very envious of people who seem to have it in spades.
Over time, this had morphed into something more sinister. Whenever things would go badly, I’d assume it wasn’t meant to be and would find it very easy to give up and never attempt it again - this closed me off to trying new experiences, making friends with people who were different from me and also trying things that would help me grow.
Again this statement is just a belief, it’s not an absolute truth, but it informed my actions in a manner that changed the direction of my life. By corollary, changing this statement should take my life in a different direction, shouldn’t it? I started simple, I replaced this statement with, "Things are neither good nor bad. I’m the only one that gets to decide the meaning of anything".
The first thing I felt was a weight off my shoulders. There’s a certain amount of bitterness associated with, "good things don’t happen to people like me" and it really weighs you down. Choosing to make a conscious shift in what I believed in helped free up so much mental space that I didn’t know existed all this while!
He/She/They won’t understand. No one understands me at all!
I’d held on to this one since I was a teenager. To be fair, we all have phases when no one seems to 'get' us. It can be very frustrating. If left to fester, this can build walls between people that aren’t easy to scale.
I used to think it was 'cool' to not be fully understood; it fed a convoluted superiority complex. I’ve since come to realise that there’s more to life than sitting in ivory towers and taking pride in not trying to understand or be understood.
I have changed this statement to, "It’s okay if no one understands me fully. I will do my best to understand and be understood". This meant, no hints or games or 'why can’t he/she/they text me first' impasses - just plain old honesty and the occasional, 'I am not sure what you meant here, can you explain it to me…' which did me a world of good. The amount of drama in my life reduced drastically after I chose to do this!
I’m not allowed to make mistakes since I’m a fully grown adult
This is a hard one! Especially for the analytical types out there. It’s never present overtly but I’ve experienced it as a weight that’s felt in the tiny little beat downs I gave myself for ordering 'a veggie patty subsidiary' instead of a 'veggie patty sub' at the food court after a long day of work. Or perhaps, when I spotted a few typos in an email after I’d hit 'send’. And most especially when I chose to trust someone and things ended badly between the person and me.
I don’t think infallibility is a feature of the human animal.
I’ve grown to change this statement to, "I’ve made a mistake, everyone makes mistakes. What’s more important is how I choose to respond to this mistake". This immediately puts the power back in my hands and also lets me take a few risks without an overpowering fear of failure holding me down.
I've had to train myself to constantly override the old thoughts with the new ones to make them stick.
I've slipped up countless times too. Despite that, I think I've been able to guard myself against my own disempowering thoughts.
The key thing that helps is to realise that these 'thoughts' that feel so real cannot be proven 100%. Therefore, they shouldn't dictate the way you live.
You're always able to choose a more empowering / freeing interpretation of a situation or a thought.
Choose the interpretation that serves you.
If nothing else, you'll feel lighter. And that just might help you make better decisions in the long run.