Once again we find that Halloween is upon us, as cobwebs, jack-o-lanterns and other spooky decorations decorate our houses and ghosts and goblins are free to roam the streets. While young children race from door to door in search of candy, others revel in the eerie side of the holiday, getting into the spirit by seeking out thrills, scares, and mischief.
In this frightful season of devilish tricks and pranks, let’s take a look at the most insidious, most dangerous trick of all – the negative self-talk perpetuated inside our own minds. Often we are our own worst enemies, telling ourselves lies borne out of fear that prevent us from growing and living a full, happy life.
Here are five of the most common lies we trick ourselves into believing, and how we can treat ourselves better.
Trick: “I just need ___ and I will finally be happy.”
Treat (yourself better): We all are guilty of believing this familiar refrain. We are always looking toward the future, always waiting for the next thing to happen; so focused on attaining the next goal or buying the next big toy, waiting for the stars to align and the right circumstances to occur to give us the one thing that we really, truly want. And then once we get it we are never fully satisfied. It’s never enough; we are happy for a brief moment, and then inevitably we latch onto the next want on our list and decide we now need this to be complete, to really be happy this time. It’s a never-ending cycle that prevents us from ever truly being happy. Happiness is never achieved by looking for something in the future to complete us; it is achieved by being present and in the moment. Slow down and enjoy what you do have, right now, right in this moment. Find your happiness in the journey, not just the destination.
Trick: “I have no control over what happens.”
Treat (yourself better): You always, always have a choice. It’s your life, no one else’s. You are in the driver’s seat; you are in control of your own destiny. Life is a series of choices, and where you are at this moment in time is due to the ones you made – life didn’t just happen to you; you made it happen. It’s easy to shift blame onto others for our bad decisions and our mistakes, but we must take responsibility for ourselves if we want to be happy. How you react to situations is also your choice. You are in control. Take the reins of your own life and accept accountability for your decisions. You can choose to feel helpless and ineffectual, or you can choose to take action and make a change. It’s up to you.
Trick: “I need to be perfect.”
Treat (yourself better): Perfectionism is a dangerous idea – no one is perfect, despite how they may appear. A perfect persona is a carefully constructed mask created to hide any flaws and insecurities from the world. Social media does a lot to perpetuate the myth of the perfect marriage, the perfect job, the perfect kids and house and the perfect person that has it all. But it isn’t real. And you don’t need to be perfect. That bar is impossibly high, and failing to reach it will only lead to you to a pit of low self-esteem and depression. Thinking that you have to be perfect will only keep you from getting ahead, preventing you from growing and learning from your mistakes. You are a three-dimensional person, with talents and quirks and flaws; a real person who falls down and makes mistakes. You – all of you – are enough. Just the way you are.
Trick: “I’m not good enough.”
Treat (yourself better): If you heard your best friend say this out loud, what would you tell them? You would say it’s not true, that they are good enough, they are better than good enough. Well guess what – you are your best friend. For life. There is no one else that will be there for you as much as you will, so treat yourself as you would treat a good friend. Tell yourself you are enough. You matter. You have something to offer the world that no one else has – the unique qualities that are solely you. You deserve happiness. Tell yourself all these things, and then believe them.
Trick: “Things will never get better.”
Treat (yourself better): Life is a series of highs and lows. We need both – without the lows we can’t fully appreciate the exhilaration of the highs. If you’re going through a hard time right now, know that it’s inevitable that at some point things will get better. If you’ve hit rock bottom, then there’s nowhere to go but up from here. Give yourself permission to feel the sadness, anger, frustration at your current situation – acknowledge it, embrace it, and then let it go. Focus on creating a more positive mindset for yourself. Remind yourself of all of the good things you already have in your life. Realize that the future is not written yet; it is wide open and ready for you to seize it and shape it into everything you want it to be.
Your mind can trick you into believing the worst about yourself. Don’t believe everything you think. Don’t let negativity hold power over you. Break free from the lies you’ve tricked yourself into believing, rewrite your inner narrative, and start treating yourself better.