Welcome back to another episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit. Today we are going to have a hard conversation and it honestly is causing a little bit of anticipatory anxiety for me. I want to talk to you about the lies we tell ourselves. You might be thinking "I don't tell lies. What are you talking about? I am a good person." So I want you to hear me out for a little bit and I want to share an experience I had this week. I realized that I had been telling a lie to myself and to my family about my choice to continue working so hard.
I really want to take the stigma, the judgment, and the shame out of lies and just admit that we do it. That’s my main hope for today. Let’s just acknowledge that we sometimes lie to ourselves. We lie to other people, and we do it, not because we’re horrible human beings, but because we’re trying to protect ourselves. It’s a safety behavior. We’re trying to protect the story we create, and I had created this whole story of why I had to work so hard.
So I sat down and thought about the lies we tell ourselves and I want to share those with you today. The first lie is "I can't." We have to stop saying “I can’t.” We may want to start replacing it with “I won’t” or “I’m not choosing to”. That is actually a better way of saying the same thing without it being a lie. The second lie is "I am less worthy than other people." We sometimes tell ourselves that we are less than, but that is a lie. We have to catch ourselves before we buy into that story. The third lie is "Just this one time." As we go to do something, even if we know in our hearts it’s not healthy, by just saying, “Oh, just this once I’ll do it.” That is a lie, because typically is not just this once. The fourth lie is "I should be able to do this by myself." Let's get rid of the word 'should' here. If you need help, it is ok to ask for support. The fifth lie is "I can't upset other people." Actually it is not that you do not want to upset other people, you really do not want to tolerate your discomfort that goes along with hurting other people or making other people upset.
So there are a few lies we tell ourselves. Think about them. Be very gentle and tender with yourself. Take your time with this. You may want to put your foot in the water and pull it out really quickly because it’s too painful, but then practice. I’ve been doing this for several years and it has very much benefited me.
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Transcript Ep. 176
This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 176.
Welcome to Your Anxiety Toolkit. I’m your host, Kimberley Quinlan. This podcast is fueled by three main goals. The first goal is to provide you with some extra tools to help you manage your anxiety. Second goal, to inspire you. Anxiety doesn’t get to decide how you live your life. And number three, and I leave the best for last, is to provide you with one big, fat virtual hug, because experiencing anxiety ain’t easy. If that sounds good to you, let’s go.
Welcome back, guys. Today is going to be a hard conversation between you and me. Are you ready? Oh my goodness. Thank you for coming. I’m actually really excited about these episodes.
Some anxiety-provoking. I’m having some anticipatory anxiety. I’m noticing some tightness in my chest, shortness of breath. That’s what we want to do when we’re feeling anxious. We want to just check in, where is it? We want to breathe into it and allow it. We want to honor it. We want to just go, “Yeah, it’s okay to feel this. It’s not my fault, but I’m going to allow it.” And then we want to lean in to do the hard thing. Today, we’re going to do that.
Today, we’re going to talk about the lies that we tell ourselves. Now, your initial reaction might be like, “Huh, I don’t tell lies. I’m a good person. I’m not a liar. Don’t tell me I’m a liar.” That is not what I’m saying, but I am, mainly because I have to tell you something that happened to me this last week because I, myself, am a liar. If you’re not a liar, that’s fine. I am a liar. So, let’s address that.
This last week, I have been editing, editing, editing, editing. There are so many stages of writing this book. I thought you just wrote a book and sent it in, and were like, “Thank you for letting me write a book. Good luck with finishing it.” It turns out that’s not the case. You write the book. Then they check the book. They send you back notes. You write more. They check it. They send me back notes. You have to change a bunch of stuff. Then you write some more, and you finish the book. You go, “Hooray, I finished the book,” and they go, “Psych, just kidding. Now, we’re going to review the book and edit the book. And then you have to go and fix and correct and approve all the changes we made. And then we’ll do it one more time.” I’m like, “Boo, I didn’t want to do this. That’s not what I signed up for.” Being so naive, that’s what I am.
Anyway, I’ve been working my butt off. In my private practice, I’m trying to do some really big changes to CBT School and make it much, much better. I’m trying to hire more staff because we’re so busy right now. I really want to make sure we’re not turning people away too. I’m not a specialist care. I want to be a good mom. I want to be able to do podcasts. I want to do social media. I want, I want, I want. And then I get to do this additional book edit.
Now, on Saturday, I was in a terrible mood. The stress that was overwhelming me was just painful. It was so much. I thought I was being a rock star. I was using all my skills. I was still engaging with my kids. I was breathing. I had meditated. I had taken a walk. I was using all my skills.
At the very end of the night, my daughter came up and she shared a balm as she often does at the very end of the night like, “Okay, I’m not doing well and I need your support.” Usually, I handle this really well, but on Saturday night, nope, not me. I did not handle it well. My reaction was like, “Come on, you’ve got no problems. I’ve got problems.” Number one, PS, that was not a good response. I don’t encourage you to practice that because that’s not helpful and not kind and not productive.
Of course, I slowed down. I caught myself in my reaction. I am a human. I make mistakes. I caught myself in my reaction. I apologized to her and I sat down and we talked it through and we came up with some solutions. I offered myself self-compassion and her, just like we did in the episode last week.
And then when she went to bed, my husband sat me down and he said, “You’re working too much. This is not okay. It’s obviously impacting the family.” He said it kindly, but he said, “We try to be as honest as we can with each other.” My reaction was this: PS, it wasn’t great either. So go with me here. I am a, like I said, so much more to learn we’re all on a learning curve. But my reaction was, “How dare you say that? I’m working so hard and I don’t have any choices. It’s not my fault that I have so much work to do. I didn’t ask to do this second edit of the book or the 15th edit of the book. It’s not my fault that the links on the website are broken and blah, blah, blah.” And I stood by my theory. This is where the lie was. I doubled down.
He backed off a little because he could tell I was super triggered, but I doubled down on this lie. And then I had to step back and go, “Okay. That was a lie because I don’t have to work this hard. I don’t have to put this much pressure on myself.” I like to work. I love to work. I love what I do. I love talking to you guys. I love being a therapist. I love having businesses. I really love having a person who does business. I really love the therapy work and I also really love the business side of things. I’m just a bit of a dork that way. I love growing things. I love creating things.
This whole lie that I was saying, like, “I don’t have a choice,” it’s just ridiculous. It wasn’t true. It was straight up a lie. It got me thinking, well, number one, let me backup. I went to my husband. I said, “I’m so sorry. You’re right. I am working too hard. I am pushing myself too hard. I need to find some better balance. I can’t burn myself down to nothing and have nothing left for you guys at the end of the day,” even though I thought I was using my skills, that’s just not okay.
I will talk about this again next week in a different concept. But I was telling lies when I reacted and I’m sorry about that. It got me thinking, “What other lies do we tell ourselves?” Let’s take the stigma and the judgment and the shame out of lies and just admit that we do it. That’s my main hope for today. Let’s just acknowledge that we sometimes lie to ourselves. We lie to other people, and we do it, not because we’re horrible human beings, but we do it because we’re trying to protect ourselves.
It’s a safety behavior. We’re trying to protect the story we create, and I had created this whole story. “Oh no, it’s not my fault. I worked so hard because A, B, C, D, and it’s not completely in my control.” It is if I’m going to be honest. Maybe not for you in your case. Maybe you do have a situation where you have to work these certain hours. I’m not talking. I’m just a bit talking specifically to my own lives here.
So then I thought, “Okay, let’s just go through.” I sat down, got a piece of paper, and I thought, “What are the main lies that I probably tell myself or I’ve heard my patients and clients say to themselves?” I’m going to bang through them really quick.
1. I can’t.
This is a lie. Not a good one, not an easy one. Again, when I talk about “I can’t”, I also want to preface that there are certain situations where people can’t do things like certain disabilities, medical disabilities. They can’t run a marathon or so forth. I’m not speaking specifically to that. I’m talking about “I can’t” when it comes to feeling emotions or facing our fears, or doing things that are hard.
The main reason I say “It’s a beautiful day to do hard things” is to counter the thing I hear the most, which is “I can’t”. Yeah, you can. It’s going to be hard, but you can do hard things. It’s a lie. We tell ourselves.
Now I’m not saying that from a place of criticism or even lacking compassion. There’s deep compassion in what I’m saying here. I’m not saying, “Oh, you can.” I’m not saying it in a condescending way. What I’m saying is, be honest with yourself. It’s not that you can’t. We’re talking here about being honest with yourself so that we can actually solve the problem.
I can’t solve this problem of overworking until I’m ready to be honest with myself and go, “You know what? You’re right. You’re 100% right.” I have to be honest with myself. I am choosing to work this much and it is impacting my family. That has to change. Let’s say I decided it wasn’t going to change, that’s my prerogative. But at least I have to start by being honest with myself.
We have to stop saying “I can’t.” We may want to start to replace it with “I won’t” or “I’m not choosing to”. That’s a much more wise way of saying the same thing without it being a lie. Ouch, I know it’s not fun to hear this. I’m saying this to myself. Please don’t feel like I’m bullying you here. I’m also telling myself this, because a part of me wants to go, “No, I can’t. I can’t slow down. I have A, B and C.” It’s like I won’t slow down.
2. I’m less worthy than other people…
Because of my weight, the way I look, my social media, following, my mental disorder, my income.
We tell ourselves these lies all day long, this lie was the absolute basis of the eating disorder I had. I’m less worthy than them. The only way I can get more worthy and be as worthy is if I drop a body size, if I exercise compulsively. For some people, if I can be as popular, or if I could have as much money or have the same car. We tell ourselves it’s a lie, that we’re less than. That’s a lie. We have to catch that we buy into that story, and that when we do, that story can feed many problematic behaviors in our lives.
3. Just this one time.
“I’ll just do it one more time. It was no big deal. This one time won’t hurt.” That’s a lie guy. Ouch, I know, right? But we do it all the time. It’s fine. Just this once I won’t do it. Now, let me also stop for a second and go, you’re not going to be perfect. I’m not going to be perfect. We’re humans and we’re going to make mistakes. If there are times where you have fallen off the wagon, or you do a compulsion or you engage in a behavior that’s not helpful, this is not about me saying, “You’re bad for that,” and you get a rap across the knuckles. Absolutely not. We’re talking here about stories we tell ourselves, the lies we tell ourselves. As we go to do something, even if we know in our hearts it’s not healthy, by just saying, “Oh, just this once I’ll do it,” that’s a lie, because it’s not just this once.
I have a dear friend and this dear friend has OCD. I love when I hear this dear friend say, “Kimberley, I’m going to be honest with you. I know I shouldn’t do this, but I am choosing to do a compulsion this time. I know it’s not what’s right for me. I’m going to do it. And then as soon as I do it, I’m going to A, B, C, and D.” That’s the truth. That’s honesty. That’s not saying, “Oh, just this one time. I’m just going to do it once.” What she’s saying here is the truth. “I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m going to do it. And then I’m going to take the consequence for it.” That is so much more healthy for you and honest for you than any other way of saying it.
Some of you may say, “Well, if I say that, then I’ll beat myself up.” Well, a part of telling the truth and not lying is also not beating yourself up for the truth, because the truth is the truth. No matter what you say.
4. I should be able to do this by myself or any other should that you do.
I hear a lot of people say, “No, I don’t want to get therapy. I should be able to do this by myself.” I want you to recognize that the stigma at play. No, often we need help. We need lots of help. Often people will say, “No, I should be able to do this without medication.” No, that’s not true. That’s you telling yourself a lie because maybe you’re afraid of taking medication.
These are just ideas, guys. I don’t want you to walk away feeling bad here. I just want you to reflect on, could any of this be possibly true? Maybe even just listening to this is you opening a small door into you being really honest with yourself. I promise you, being honest with yourself will be the most freeing thing you ever do.
When I really made a deal, it was like two years ago, I was like, “You know what? No more easing anyone, Kimberley. Just tell it like it is.” Don’t be mean about it. Don’t criticize yourself. Don’t be unkind. But just be honest with yourself and others, please.
No more shoulds. “I should do this. I should do that. I should be able to do it by myself.” If you’re struggling to do it by yourself, you need help. It’s very factual. It’s pretty A to B. If you’re struggling to do it for yourself and you need help, there’s absolutely no shame in that. I really hope you can ask for help, whether it be a loved one, buying a book, buying a course, going to therapy, going to a doctor. Whatever it is that you’re trying to succeed with, ask for help.
Here’s a big one. I have one more to go, then I have a bonus flippity-flop lie for you. I’ll explain it in a second.
5. I can’t upset other people.
I often hear clients say, “I can’t do that because it’ll hurt them. It’ll upset them.” No, that’s not the truth. It might be the case. It might be the truth and that is the consequence, but that’s not why you’re not doing it. You’re not doing it because you don’t want to tolerate the discomfort that goes along with hurting other people or making other people upset.
A lot of this is like teeny tiny details, but I really want to inspire you guys here. Be as honest as you can with each other. It hurts, but it’s better. Then you can actually work with the system.
Now, here is a flippity flop. When I say flippity-flop lie, it’s often, a lot of my clients will say, “Bad things are going to happen. Bad things can happen. Bad things are going to happen.” Often we will go, “Oh no, that’s just my anxiety talking.” We’re reacting to it in a really negative way.
I want to flippity-flop lie this one. What I’m saying is, that one’s actually not a lie. Bad things will happen. That is a part of life. We must accept that scary things do sometimes happen in our life. I don’t want you to talk yourself out of that one. Instead, I want you to practice being honest, which is when I’m having the thoughts, “Bad things are going to happen,” I go, “Yes, Kimberley, you’re right.”
How can we practice being accepting of that? It doesn’t mean all of your thoughts are going to happen. It doesn’t mean if you’ve got an anxiety disorder, your thoughts are on rapid-fire telling you all the 17,000 things have gone wrong. I’m not going to say all those things are correct. But the general idea that bad things will happen is not a lie. I want you to actually settle into that a little bit and be honest with yourself in that, instead of trying to control your life, thinking that that control will protect you from bad things from happening.
See, it’s like a flippity-flop. What I’m saying is it’s not a lie. It’s actually a truth. If you can handle it and respond to it like a truth, then you’re not getting yourself into trouble. I’ll talk more about this next week, I promise.
So there are a few lies we tell ourselves. Think about them. Be very gentle and tender around these. Take your time with this. You may want to put your foot in the water and pull it out real quick because it’s too painful, but then practice. I’ve been doing this for several years and it has very much benefited me.
Let me share with you to round the story out. After I had 24 hours to simmer myself down, give myself a talking to, and pull myself out of my own lies, I sat down with my children and I said, “Daddy brought up that he felt I was working too much. How do you feel about it?” I’m not in the business of trying to talk myself into being who I’m not. Interestingly, one said, my son is five and he’s learned the art of expression in his voice, and he went, “Oh yeah.” When I asked, “Do you feel like I work too much?” his response was, “Oh yeah.” So there is an answer. Honesty, thank you, five-year-old.
My daughter who has more of a need to protect me went, “Uh, kinda, no, but you’re still a great mom and you’re too great and I love that you work hard.” And then her dad was like, “No, please. Mom asked you to just tell her the honest truth and you can be honest with us. How are you feeling about how much mom’s working?” “Yeah, I think she does work a little too much.” “Excellent.”
Now, my team, the people I care about the most, have shared with me their opinion, whether I like it or not. I hear it. I take it into consideration and I choose whether I’m going to implement it. No more lies. I could go, “My husband is wrong. My kids are wrong. I didn’t even want to know about their opinion because my story is that I have no choice.” I could do that, but that doesn’t help me. It keeps me stuck. It cuts me off from the relationships that matter to me most. So I’m going to choose honesty. Does that make sense?
Tough conversation, friends. How are you doing? Are you guys all right? Are you having a panic attack over there? Are you breathing okay? Check in. Take care of yourself. None of this is a judgment. This is mostly me giving you real-time on a stuff of my own that I work through. Often when I’m going through something, I want to share it with you because I’m guessing you are going through something similar. I’m trying to be ballsy enough to say, “Hey, let’s just talk about the real stuff. Let’s address the real stuff that impacts our daily lives and our mental health and anxiety.”
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Have a wonderful day guys. I’ll see you next week.
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