Day 42: The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

The Minimalists

I met these great guys last Saturday.  Their names are Josh and Ryan and they write a blog about minimalism.  Well.  It’s not really about minimalism.  It’s about living a meaningful life and how making money and acquiring stuff doesn’t bring the fulfillment or satisfaction we think it will.

Ryan and Josh are on a tour to promote their new book, meet other cool minimalists, like moi, and that’s how I got to meet them.  Saturday they came to Phoenix and spoke about how they’ve changed their lives; they spoke about letting go of possessions and fancy corporate titles, about living with less and creating more.

Reading the Future

The meet-up moved from a coffee shop to a bar down the street, and the larger group broke into clusters for deeper discussion.  The sharing of ideas and connecting of minds was just what I needed to renew my energy and continue the frightening but liberating path of bettering my life. The interesting thing is that I could have missed out on all of it.  

I almost didn’t go.

My friend Bibi is the one who changed my mind.  We had met up for an early dinner, and while sorting out the bill, she asked what I was doing later that night.  I told her about the meet up.  “But I don’t think I’m gonna go.”  I said.

“But why?!?  It’ll be so much fuuun!!”  Bibi has this way of making everything feel like sunshine and rainbows.  After combatting a few lame excuses I had thrown out about “being tired” and “not feeling confident”, Bibi convinced me that it would be a super-duper-awesome time.  And it was🙂.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Since then, I’ve had some time to think about why I wasn’t gonna go.  It seems I was lying to myself.  I was making up stories about what the night would be–perhaps as an attempt to protect myself from the discomforts of facing the unknown–and using those stories as an excuse to take the easy path of going home and hiding.

I’ve been making that a habit lately, but I haven’t always been that way.  I remember a time when I remained open-minded and approached each moment with the excitement of discovery.  Life was a colorful adventure and I rested only on the buoyancy of adventure and possibility.

Letting Go of Fears

Recently, I’ve been considering leaving my job without having a new one lined up.  I know that sounds risky to many, but it doesn’t to me.  Besides that I’m at the point where living out of my car seems more pleasant than going to work , I have already explored other, more entrepreneurial options that I know I’d be great at: contracting for a small business and selling art on commission.

But I’m hovering.

I carry countless messages in my head that scream the dangers of joblessness.  I suspect most of them are lies, yet they still hold power.  If I were alone in this world, I would have already moved on.  But I have friends and family.  It’s  the thought of dealing with their fearful reactions that stop me–as if my choices would somehow hurt them by triggering their most deep-seated fears.

I don’t think anyone I know would consider earning their living by selling art on commission, but for me it feels like the most natural, most obvious thing I should be doing right now.  Just the thought of it invigorates me with a joyful energy.  Certainly I’ve already started taking steps towards realizing it, but I want to give it my all, my 40, 60 or 80 hours per week.

As I gain clarity and separate the fact from the fiction, I’ll keep you updated.  Until then: what are you lying to yourself about, and how is it limiting you?


Filed under 100% Honesty Project, Honesty is sexy, The Truth Experiment

31 responses to “Day 42: The Lies We Tell Ourselves

  1. lynda sinclair

    Lindsey; all I can say is wow! You certainly have a way of making us think. I would love to get the book, read and live it. We all tell our selves to think small (lie), in reality (lying) thinking small or playing the part serves no purpose in this world. We all need to think more about each other and less about us!
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Interesting reflection on almost not going. I usually back out on meet-ups like that too, especially if I’m going alone. My social fears get the best of me. Thanks for reminding me to expect success–not failure.

    I really want to comment on your consideration of leaving your job with nothing lined up. That’s exactly what I did back in April. It was more exhilarating than frightful in the beginning. Then after a couple months of bill payments, and seeing my savings dwindle, I started getting scared. A few other unexpected twists happened that sent me into panic. Even though I’ve taken some contract jobs here and there, I still consider myself unemployed. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but my worst days now are no worse than my worst days then. In fact, they’re better in a sense because I’ve chosen to take this path. I wouldn’t say I always feel in control of my life, but I feel free from living someone else’s. The worst days also don’t last long. The last year and a half at the job I quit felt like a continuum of shades of grey strung together. Now I might have one black day, but most days are very bright! I’m very lucky to have friends and family who support me and remind me every step of the way that I’m amazing and they have a lot of respect and admiration for my courage to do what I’m passionate about.

    I would encourage you to make that jump if you are on the fence. If your fear is letting other people down, I would remember the words of Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” You may have to lose touch with people who don’t understand why you have to change, but I guarantee that you will feel inspired, supported, and amazed by the new connections you make with each step forward!

  3. I’m digging this trip you’re on. Thanks for letting me tag along (and for the link to The Minimalists)

  4. I just returned from almost a year overseas. I’ve been going through some of the boxes in my basement, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. I want to lighten the load–both literally and figuratively.

    What stops me is all the “what if” scenarios. What if the heat goes out and we all need five blankets to stay warm, what if I’m doing some painting and need some old jeans and ratty shoes, what if the picture will look great in my next house.

    I’m working hard at letting go. Letting go of my stuff and letting go of my fear of making the wrong decision.

    • Siddhartha I can totally relate. Yesterday, I was fully ready to turn in my two week notice. My coworker convinced me to wait just a little longer because of the “what if”. What if I turn in my notice and they tell me to leave that day? I wouldn’t be ready. So, I promised her I would not quit before 4:55 pm on Dec 27th. I’m counting down the days.

  5. I love the post because I’m going through that journey too. Life has given me an amazing opportunity to explore myself and I’m in the mix of it myself. Good post and keep it coming! Cheers!

  6. i dont think i will ever be ready to work. I like being a ‘kid’…i mean less responsibilities, i think its cause i still live with my family at home. the lie that i keep telling myself is that i need everything to happen fast…but then i think back to it…what if i miss the important things int he process…idk i am totally

    anyway great post…very cool that you met them!

  7. Oh I’m SO glad you wrote this because I too almost didn’t go for the same reasons. It’s funny how just changing one decision can lend itself to making many more meaningful, life-altering decisions! Thank you for sharing this🙂

  8. I need all the help I can get wiggling out of this tight fitting lie. Can’t wait to read more. Best, Patrice

  9. Flattered and honored to be mentioned here. Thankful that I got to meet you in Phoenix. Thanks for some meaningful conversation.

  10. Rebekka Lien

    Thanks for sharing- I live off of my jewelry and kewpie sales. Yes, I sell kewpie dolls and cool toys I like myself. I’m like a kid, but somehow I pay the bills at the end of every month. It’s not stable, not secure, but I’m happy and I get to spend time with people when the sun is still out.

  11. Great title! I’m afraid to consider the lies I’m telling myself, so we won’t go there….

  12. where do you sell art? have you ever heard of peter tunney? you might love him. look him up.

  13. Just discovered it today, but i think i love your blog already. I was on the shelf about my last job too. I didn’t have anything lined up, but i was miserable. One day I left and never looked back. I definitely got the fearful reactions (and for full disclosure, I am technically unemployed to this day) but even in hindsight I’d have done it again. the sky hasn’t fallen.

    good luck

  14. Rowena Sinclair-Long

    Ok, I just got kicked off of this blog and nothing is an accident. so, here I go again. You are an amazing young woman, L. , and the only reason I think I’m what is called blogging.
    Read, read read The Artist’s Way….you are on a journey and this book is a must.
    Another nugget I came across is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of success: To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciaton of honest critiics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty: to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; This is to have succeeded. And so our experience, our journey , our connection is continuing.

    In final, your decision on what to do: There is never the wrong time to do the right thing and as your great aunt, your grandmother Gaggy’s sister would say: Success is loving what you do. Do that thing……Love you, your cousin, Rowena

  15. just started reading your posts…I’m sooo enjoying them. Thanks for sharing your ideas. i’m feeling stuck now and not really my true your posts are a real pleasure to read!🙂

  16. I can really relate to this. A few years ago, especially in college I was super outgoing. There was nothing that intimidated me at all. In the last year for some reason, I also have been lying to myself. However for me I don’t think that I make up stories about how the night will go, instead I make excuses on why I don’t want to go do something. Deep down, I think it is me being nervous about a new experience or spending time with someone I am not 100% comfortable around yet. It has held me back and reading this has inspired me to stop lying to myself and make the most out of situations. Thanks!

  17. I understand your feeling completely – there have been so many moments where I came up with excuses about not going somehwere and then loved it so much that I couldn’t imagine my life without that crucial experience. I will think about the ways that I lie to myself, it will be an enormous help to get my life more active and fulfilling!

  18. Being willing to reinvent yourself is important. It’s the only way you will ever know everything you are and everything you can do. Even failing produces knowledge. It is scary – this economy, but if you hate work, you need to explore other options – even while employed – buy someone in that field coffee or lunch to understand their work pros and cons ( and use those sick days for those adventures). Be brave. ( and thanks for the book info – it sounds great.)

  19. Aibird

    This post invokes a lot of thought and memories for me. I remember how a few years back I was so desperate to escape my reality that I signed up for a program that would let me travel and give me an education award if I finish it – that program was Americorps. I didn’t give myself time to think, if I did I would talk myself out of it and that’s exactly what I was trying to avoid. I applied and within a week I had the interview and was accepted. So I packed my stuff, and then told my family, this way none of them could talk me out of it as well. It was one of the best experiences I’d ever done.

    I did the same thing a half a year after I returned home from Americorps. I wanted to explore, to see more of the world, so I once again set up an adventure – found a place in Wyoming to live next to two National Parks – and told everyone after it was set in place. Although, since then, I’ve started asking for advice before the plunge, I still try not to wait too long, otherwise my brain will concoct every possible thing that could go wrong, leaving me in this well of lies, convinced that I can’t do it.

    Except, when I went out and did it, scared as I was, I found the thoughts against it were just lies. So, in conclusion, this post is an awesome reminder that following your heart and your dreams is worthwhile, and we shouldn’t listen to the lies we tell ourselves to try to avoid facing the unknown. I wish you luck on your planning for your grand adventure, and I’ll eagerly await your next update.

  20. Seojie

    I love this post! I just finished playing catch up and read all the posts on this topic.

    I think this is a topic that everyone can relate to, and, while I was reading this post, I thought of all the times I went through lying to myself, too. I think it was extremely eye-opening to read this. Thank you!

  21. I was on writers block and a tad dry on inspiration until I read your entry. So kudos! Creative boost aside, you’ve certainly encouraged me to introspect and find resolve🙂

  22. LaDonna

    Lindsey, your candor is refreshing. No wait, your candor is like ice water unexpectedly poured overhead. I am sitting here with knots in my stomach on the edge of my seat smiling in my mind and wanting to cry. I salute your bravery and courage. I do not think you are unwise for leaving one ‘job’ without another lined up. For people like us there is no other way to live. To have continued to work at the previous job would have been a slow death. I know this from my own living hell. People was walking the tight rope without a net all over this country and all over the world. The vast difference is that you chose to and your unrelenting battle over fears (yours and others) will be rewarded. I miss you and even though we have not talked in a month o Sundays I still consider you my friend. I am glad to know you. For the short while, I cheer from the sidelines but very soon I will join you. One of my favourite quotations says, “Jump and the net will appear.” Everytime I read it, quote it, reference it not having done it, makes me disappointed in myself. Soon my self-shame will demand that I be true to LaDonna. I am feeling a whole range of emotions the over-riding one would be exhilaration. I skimmed one of the comments above reading that bad days (paraphrasing) without a job and quite similar to those with one. This is reassuring to me. And it confirms what my inner knower has told me all along. Oh, just jump already! Salute! my friend and make room…


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