Lies we tell ourselves
Let’s talk about some of the most common and insidious lies that we tell ourselves on our journey. These are things I hear so often, and from so many people…I just feel like we need to get it out there in the open. Your brain offers you ideas and beliefs that are frequently lies. But it sneakily presents them as truths. As facts. As harmless sentences. We believe them, we buy into them without even realizing we have a choice.
Just because your brain tells you something, doesn’t mean it’s true or that you have to believe it. Just because a thought pops into your head, doesn’t mean you have to trust it or keep it. Your brain has some ulterior motives; to keep you safe, to keep you away from discomfort and to keep things familiar. We are so glad it does this, we want to be safe, comfortable and familiar…most of the time. Which is why we just buy in and believe, because most of the time…it’s useful and helpful. But some of the time it is the opposite. And those are the times I’m talking about. When the sentences are lies that are not useful or helpful.
Here are 7 lies we tell ourselves on our journey.
1. I don’t care.
This is one I hear in my own head so often. It’s my default response when I feel worried about something or hurt by something. It usually sounds like “I don’t even care what they said. I don’t even care what they think. I don’t even care what happens. I don’t even care what they do.” But it’s a lie. I only say that when I do care. I do care very much. I don’t WANT to care. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t even think about it. The very fact that I am saying something about it means I care and I’m trying to convince myself otherwise. I am trying to use the denial of caring to circumvent the pain or emotion that caring creates. I just don’t want to feel what I’m feeling, and it gives me a pass to not feel discomfort.
When it comes to weight loss, my clients are saying this for the same reason. If you step on the scale and you see a number that is higher than yesterday and you hear-I don’t even care. It’s a lie. You care…you just may not want to feel the discomfort that comes from caring about what direction the number is headed.
If you eat something off of your plan and you hear yourself saying-I don’t care…it s a lie. You care about keeping your word to yourself and prioritizing taking care of yourself over pleasing your tastebuds. But if you tell yourself you don’t care, you think you will get to avoid feeling the disappointment or guilt. Nope. You’re just postponing it for later.
Your brain will offer “I don’t care” in the moment of discomfort all the time. And you may say-well Natalie, I actually don’t care in THAT moment. But unless you say “I don’t care right now, BUT I will later tonight when I think back on this moment” then you’re still lying to yourself. You’re not telling yourself the whole truth. Caring is about more than this moment. And you will think about this moment and care about this choice you made at some point in the future. You won’t just forget about this and never think about it again. Because you care. You actually really care.
2. It doesn’t matter
It doesn’t matter. You may say…well Natalie it doesn’t matter in this moment. But that’s a lie. Because what you do in this moment matters a lot. It sends a message to you about what is important. Your weight loss journey is made up of moments of decision and action, that matter. They add up to you creating the life and body that you want.
The saddest part of this lie is that what it is really saying when we use it is-I don’t matter. What I want doesn’t matter. Who I want to become doesn’t matter. My body doesn’t matter. My health doesn’t matter. The length and quality of my life doesn’t matter. Can you imagine saying that to your best friend or your spouse or your child… you don’t matter. Ouch.
One bite of cake when you didn’t have it on your plan…doesn’t matter in terms of the scale, your weight goal, your blood sugar or your health. It doesn’t matter meaning-it is not make or break. But anything we do that is out of alignment with who we want to become, matters to our self-confidence. Little bites of it doesn’t matter erodes our belief that we will do what we say we are going to do, that we prioritize what is important to us, that we take care of ourselves no matter what.
James Clear says this; “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it is actually big. That’s the paradox of making small improvements.”
The one bite-when we don’t take it and choose to honor our plan and our goal…that matters a lot. In fact that is everything. That is a meaningful change. That is a vote for who you want to become. It’s a vote for future you. Every vote counts. It all adds up. It matters. And it’s a beautiful thing that it does. It mattering doesn’t have to feel like pressure. It can feel like love. If you really think about why it does.
3. I deserve it.
We’ve talked about this I know…but it bears repeating I think. What you tell yourself you deserve-a break from planning your food, a weekend off, a treat, a drink (or a whole bottle of wine)-lies. What do you get as a result of these things?
If you take a break from planning and the result is a whole day of eating crap, how do you feel at the end of that day? If you take the weekend off and the result is the scale is up Monday morning, is that what you deserve? Feeling bloated, moving away from your goal instead of toward it, reinforcing that food is the solution for creating or avoiding feelings? No. That is not what you deserve. You deserve a break, sure. You deserve fun, relief and a change of pace from the work week, you bet. But eating like a jerk, does not give you the break or the relief that you are looking for.
I am all for taking breaks, doing something that is out of the normal routine for a change, treating yourself. But do it in ways that actually create the results that you are looking for. Taking an actual break to spend time in nature, move your body, sleep, read, watch tv, get a massage, go for a walk…all of the things you can choose that actually allow you to create space in your brain, and experience feel-good neurotransmitters and lower your stress hormones-there are no unintended bad consequences. That is what you deserve. To be cared for and treated in a way that enhances your life and improves your relationship with you.
That is actually a really good question to ask yourself as you are trying to decide if this is something you actually deserve…does this enhance or erode the relationship with me that I am trying to build? That answer will tell you everything you need to know.
4. I’ll start tomorrow
No. You probably won’t. And if you do, you will probably quit when it’s hard and tell yourself the same thing then. Telling yourself you’ll start tomorrow is just postponing discomfort. Until we are willing to feel discomfort and accept it as a part of this process and a vital part of our human experience…we will keep lying to ourselves and buying into the idea that discomfort can and should be postponed.
This lie is predicated on a falsity-that you have to wait for some official beginning to “start.” That the choice to take care of you the way you ultimately want to-can only be made when the sun rises, or the days of the week start over, or the calendar changes, or a new year begins. As soon as you realize you are making or have just made a choice that is out of alignment, that is where you can start making a new choice. The next bite, the next meal, the next moment.
The unspoken part of this lie is that by waiting til tomorrow or next week or next month or next year, we are going to somehow make it possible for the experience to be easier or the results to be better. We think that starting over will be just the thing we need-the fresh start will guarantee that we succeed. The truth is, you will be the same tomorrow and the next day and the next, and therefore this pattern will keep repeating, unless we are willing to sign up for the discomfort.
Being willing to feel the discomfort of change-the discomfort of saying no to ourselves, of stopping before we are stuffed, of ordering differently, eating differently, speaking to ourselves differently-that is what makes tomorrow different from today. Feeling instead of eating, having compassion for ourselves instead of disdain…choosing to keep going instead of giving up…that is what makes tomorrow different from today. So-if we want to be successful, instead of lying and saying “I’ll start tomorrow” we’ll simply focus on the next choice in front of us and be willing to feel the discomfort it will surely bring.
5. This doesn’t count
This is one of the silliest of lies. It’s like when your toddler plays hide and seek by putting their hands over their face or a blanket over their head. They believe they have become invisible to the outside world. But we can all see them.
If you eat it, it counts. It doesn’t matter if no one sees you. It doesn’t matter if it’s consumed in your car before you get home and the wrapper is disposed of in your neighbor’s garbage can. It doesn’t matter if it’s on Christmas, on a different continent, or on a cruise. If you consume it, it counts. You know, your body knows.
Now does this mean you have to shout it from the rooftops or never eat dessert on vacation or always eat where someone can see you, no. Just don’t lie to yourself about it. If you are going to choose to eat it, make sure you love your choice and you enjoy the food. If you are going to eat it, make it count! Plan it, taste it, savor it, don’t overeat it, own it. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, in whatever amounts…let your body and your future self be your guide.
6. I don’t have time
There is a simple answer to debunk this lie: time is not a thing we have or don’t have, find or lose or run out of.
We make time for the things that matter to us. Plain and simple. If eating at home instead of getting fast food matters to you, you’ll make time to plan meals ahead of time and buy what you need to prepare them. If being able to go out to eat with your friends and know what your options are so you can make a choice ahead of time matters to you, you will make the time to check out the menu online before you go. If understanding your emotions or your motivations-why you do the things you do and feel what you feel matters to you, you’ll make time to journal and question and ponder. If building a strong and healthy relationship with yourself matters, you will make time to get to know what you really need and do it.
7. I can’t
The last lie is so common and so false. It sounds something like this…It’s too hard to take care of me or I can’t follow the program, plan, etc. when I am out of town, out to eat, or out of my routine. B.S.
You can find food that serves your body and your goals wherever you are in the world. You can make choices that work for you and feel good to your body at pretty much any restaurant. You can eat the same foods you eat during the week, on the weekends. So this whole I can’t or it’s too hard is a straight up lie because the truth is actually-I don’t want to.
You are an adult human which means you can do whatever you want to. All of your choices have consequences, yes. But you are free to choose what you want to do. If you are out of town with family and they want to eat ice cream for every meal, you don’t have to do that too just because you are out of town. If on the weekends you want to take a break from cooking, that doesn’t mean your only choice is to eat bowls of sugar cereal.
You get to decide to take care of you wherever you are, no matter who you are with, what the occasion is, what time of day or year it is…you can choose what you want and what works best for you all of the time.
Your brain will offer you lies. You don’t have to believe them. The best tools you have at your disposal are curious questions. Ask questions, do your research on your thoughts and beliefs before you buy them hook line and sinker and take actions that don’t take care of you.
My clients get really good at seeing and detecting the lies their brain tells them. We work to acknowledge understand and unbelieve all sorts of lies which transforms their relationships with themselves and their bodies and food. If that sounds like the work you want to do, let’s get to work!