Once upon a time, there was a 16 year old Jessie. She and her sister threw a party at their parent’s home. When the neighbors called the parents, Jessie and her sister did the only thing they could think to do - they lied. They made up some story about how it was just them hanging out and some stranger brought the booze. (ha). But then a funny thing happened. Because they lied about how the party started, they had to lie about the happenings of the event. So they lied to cover up the original lie. And then they lied to cover up the lie to cover up the lie. And before they knew it they were in a web of lies, too big to keep track of, and they didn’t even really make sense anyway. Well, long story short, when they walked in to the discussion with their parents, and there was a pile of jello-shot garbage (that they had clearly made themselves) on the counter, they knew they were busted. In a way though, it was a bit of a relief. Keeping up all those lies would have been tough!
What do we and 16 year old Jessie have in common? Why am I even sharing this?
We do this to ourselves. All the time. Since we were babies. One day, a parent or a teacher punished you for doing something bad, for instance, and you thought in that moment that you are not good enough (in some way). You decided, in fact, that you are not good enough. And as soon as you told yourself that lie, you went to work to cover up the truth. You went to work finding evidence and data that supports the lie that you are not good enough. (I use the phrase not good enough, because it is usually some form of that, but it might be useful to look at what phrases and beliefs are buried within you, specifically!).
So why do we do that? And what do I really mean? Well, let’s look at an example later in life (because when you are a baby you really are not processing all of this, nor are you really responsible for it yet). Say, your boss calls you in for an assessment, gives you a couple of pieces of feedback. A few positive ones, a few “room for improvement” ones, and there’s one that sticks out. She comments on an incident where you made a bad call for the company. This bad call in particular you knew it was a bad call, and the only reason you made it was because you went out partying the night before and you hardly slept and you were not awake or prepared by the time that moment arrived. Now this piece of feedback hit you in the gut. You immediately feel guilty about it. You apologize, or make up some excuse why you made that call. You go back to your desk and you (quietly, subtly) tell yourself that you are a screw up, and you don’t deserve her support.
Let’s go back to the 16 year old lie real quick. Why did Jessie and her sister lie? They lied because they knew they were going to get “in trouble”. What that means is something like getting grounded, or getting yelled at, but really its about having that terrible look of disappointment from the parents, the disapproval. So, in this adult case, it’s sort of the same thing, but in this case it’s less about your boss punishing you, and it’s more about yourself. You know that if you stay with the truth, which is that you made a bad call because you didn’t sleep enough because you were out partying the night before - then you will get in trouble with yourself. You will be mad or disappointed with yourself. You will judge and disapprove of yourself. This hurts. It hurts to have to deal with letting yourself down. So just like it was easier to blame a friend for bringing the booze, it’s much easier to blame the fact that it’s just because you are a “screw up”, than to accept that you made a mistake and repair it. If you are screw up, you are expected to, well…screw up. So at least then, no one’s disappointed.
So now, you’ve told yourself this lie that you are a screw up. The next time your boss comments on your work, you have to cover for this. You have to make sure this lie still lives up, otherwise you’d have to face the disappointment. So, she says something, and you immediately look for ways to support the lie of being a screw up. It often feels like a relief, like, “oh, that’s why he said that. I shouldn’t even be working on this project anyway - see? I’m a screw up.”
Now it may not be this literal, in fact, it’s probably not. However, it is happening all the time. We rationalize our lies so that we can “feel better”, but really all that does is get us further and further into the web of lies.
Notice what you are telling yourself. Like, deeply, what do you believe about yourself? And how do you support that? Do you secretly just wait for the casting director or choreographer to say “thank you” instead of “please stay”? Do you subtly want your partner to leave you to support your belief that no one sticks around for you? Do you, deep down, wait for someone to insult you so you can prove to them that they are wrong? These are all cover ups for our lies. These are all ways in which we look to fuel the lie that is protecting us from truly showing up for ourselves. From truly taking responsibility for our lives and being ok with the repercussions. Fully. Good or bad.
As always - this is extremely subtle. So if you’re still reading and thinking, “what? No! I don’t do that! I would never do that!” Look again. Dig deeper. Stop feeding your BS. Step into your power.