9 Lies to Unlearn Before it’s Too Late

9 Lies to Unlearn Before it’s Too Late

The worst lies are the ones you tell yourself over and over again – the ones you live by.  Perhaps someone close to you ingrained these lies in your mind, perhaps you were influenced by the negativity of popular media channels, or perhaps they grew from simple, innocent misunderstandings.

Either way, next time you decide to learn something new for the sake of self-improvement, start by unlearning a lie that has been deceiving you.  Here are nine lies I have unlearned in my own life:

1.  Happiness is about getting what you want.

There are two ways people try to find happiness.  One is to continue to accumulate more and more of what they think they want.  The other is to appreciate what they already have.  The latter is the right path.  Happiness isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about wanting what you’ve got.  Happiness is not a goal, it’s a by-product of living well in each moment.

To be happy doesn’t mean you don’t desire more, it simply means you’re thankful for what you have and patient for what’s yet to come.  Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in trying to accomplish something big, that you fail to notice the little things that give life its magic.  So appreciate today for all it’s worth.  Today is one of the good old days you’re going to miss in the years ahead.

2.  Success looks a certain way.

You are not in this world to live up to everyone else’s expectations, nor should you feel that everyone else is here to live up to yours.  You’ve got to pave your own distinct path.  What success means to each of us is different.  It’s about spending your life happily in your own way.

You have your own personal calling that’s as unique as your fingerprints.  The best way to succeed is to discover this calling within you and then find a way to offer it to the world in the form of a beneficial service.  Ultimately, if you can wake up every morning and do something that makes a positive difference, makes you proud, and makes you smile, before you get back to bed, you are a true success.  (Angel and I discuss this process in the Success and Passion chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  A busy day is a productive day.

“Work smarter, not harder” is one of the most common clichés in the personal development space.  But like most clichés, few people actually do it.  Go ahead and take a look around; the busy people outnumber the productive people by a wide margin.  Perhaps you’re one of them.

Busyness seems impressive.  It puts you in the heat of the action.  It gives you an elevated sense of accomplishment.  You’re always late for social engagements, barely have enough time for family get-togethers, and hardly get a moment to yourself.  Emails and texts are shooting out of your smartphone like machinegun bullets, commitments and meetings fill up your entire calendar, and sleep is an afterthought.  You’re like a rock star without a record.

Of course, it’s all just an illusion.  A commitment to anything more than the essential is to work harder, not smarter.  So flip it around and work smarter by putting first things first.

4.  To be brave is to not be afraid.

Truth be told, the only time you can be brave is when you are afraid.

Being brave is when you do something, regardless of your fears, because you know it’s the right thing to do.  In other words, you are afraid to do it because there are unknowns, but then you go ahead and do it anyway.

Whatever course you decide upon in life, there is always the possibility that something will go wrong.  There will always be difficulties arising that tempt you to fear that you don’t have what it takes.  To map out any course of action and follow it to an end requires bravery.  (Read Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.)

5.  To be strong is to not feel pain.

Life is often painful.  It requires a worthy struggle for growth and experience.  Anyone who says differently is selling a lie.

The strongest people are the ones who feel pain, accept it, learn from it, and fight through it.  They turn their wounds into wisdom.  It’s all about having the courage to take a break, to shed a tear, to dust yourself off, and then to get back in the ring to fight like you’ve never fought before.

6.  Everyone around you is holding you back.

Many of us don’t genuinely want to be responsible for our own fate.  Perhaps we daydream about “fulfilling our dreams,” but we leave those dreams firmly in the realm of fantasy.  We don’t research them, talk to people about them, read related books, etc.  Somehow we prefer the fantasy to the reality.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, until we say that someone else is “holding us back”.  That turns an idle fantasy into a barricade of lies.

The truth is, if you’re not working on something meaningful today, the only person holding you back is YOU.  If you aren’t doing anything about your goals and dreams, you have no one to blame except yourself.  Either you take responsibility for your life or someone else will.  Blame is a scapegoat – it’s an easy way out of taking accountability for your own outcome.  It’s a lot easier to point the finger at someone or something else instead of looking within.

When it comes to working hard to achieve a goal or dream – earning a degree, building a business, or any other personal achievement that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is:  “Am I willing to live a few years of my life like many people won’t, so I can spend the rest of my life like many people can’t?”

7.  You are automatically entitled to certain things from others.

People are sometimes led to have a sense of entitlement because they falsely believe they are owed something based on the social role they have chosen.  For example, if someone has accepted the role of being someone’s friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, they feel entitled to get certain favors from the other person.  If someone has accepted the role of being a parent, they feel entitled to being respected by their children.  If someone has accepted the role of being a consumer, they feel entitled to be served to their specific wishes.

Of course, these expectations of entitlement often go unfulfilled.  Why?  Because nothing in this world is promised.  Regardless of your chosen role in all your relationships and walks of life, you don’t automatically get any more than you openly communicate, negotiate, and work for.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

8.  You will feel comfortable when the time is right.

So many of us complain about the boring repetition present in our daily routines, yet we choose no clear course for correction.  We want to change something, but we never think the time is right.  Why?  Because the very source of our boredom also provides a solid foundation of comfort.  We are comfortable with our current surroundings.  Steering off the known track is risky, and we are subconsciously scared of what might happen if we do.

So, what happens when we stick to the current track?  Nothing.  We jog along the same circular track at a steady pace daily.  We pass by the same mile marker at the exact moment we did yesterday, and the day before, and the week before that.  There is not a worry on our minds because we already know the terrain that lies ahead.

If something makes you a bit nervous and uncomfortable, it means you’re doing it right and growing.  All great opportunities in life will force you to grow emotionally and intellectually.  They force you to stretch yourself and your comfort zone, which means you won’t feel totally comfortable at first.  And when you don’t feel comfortable, you will likely assume the timing isn’t right, even though it is.

9.  It’s already too late.

Nothing is too late until your tired heart stops beating.

If you’re reading this right now, congratulations, you are alive, which means it’s not too late for you.

Things can change if you want them to, at any age.  Right now you can choose differently and make something new happen.  Your future is immediate.  Grab on to it with both hands and keep on moving on.  When you come up on a roadblock and are faced with the choice of sitting down and doing nothing or doing something to make further progress, choose the latter.  Think, work, and climb if you have to.

Move your life forward.

The floor is yours…

What self-defeating lies do people often tell themselves?  What’s one self-defeating lie you once believed was true?  Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.

Photo by: Colton Witt


  1. says

    I agree with point #3, the days when I am not working I feel a sort of restlessness and many negative thoughts occur to me. Although work days are hectic but at the end of the day it invariably feels good..

  2. Maia says

    Great post! I read your posts every day.
    Another lie to unlearn: others can determine your potential.

  3. Suzanne says

    I love all of your blogs and I read everyone of them. I just want to mention a man I met that lives in his VW Van at Little Beach. Little Beach is right at the end of the Ala Wai Harbor at the end of Waikiki Beach on Oahu. This man had his Van all neat and tidy with his surf board on a rack above his bunk and bongo drums. He was not a “Bum” by any means. He literally SPARKLED!!! His eyes were bright and he appeared to dance as he stood still.

    I grew up on a boat in the Ala Wai Harbor not too far away and it was a Magical Place. Now after meeting this fine gentle man I am working toward moving my home to Hawaii once again. I have worked for the ULTRA RICH and believe me they may live in 20000 sq foot houses with huge pools and more material things than any human being could ever desire yet they are some of the most unhappy people I have ever met. So Touch’e to “Success does not look a certain way: -that is right. I believe this man living in his Van at Little Beach is the Epitome of Success in this life and I hope to be his neighbor on wheels some day.

  4. Kathy says

    The biggest self-defeating lie I have ever believed is “you can pay for it with a credit card.” Both my husband and I believed it and it almost devastated us. It took years to pay it off and I am so thankful to have been debt-free for the past 10 years.

  5. Island Diva says

    This is a great post. I totally agree with Christine.I also thought that marriage vows were sacred. No one is perfect but I never would do anything to jeopardize my marriage. I knew I loved my husband and I knew he loved me. Now at 36, after 10 years of marriage, here I sit with a 4 year old, separated , and looming bills and I am also thinking WTF?!


    I am a person that has suffered 16 years in prison for all sorts of different things when I was young – I don’t like talking about that, but I found your words helpful. Keep doing what you are doing.

  7. says

    I haven’t yet read all the comments, so perhaps it has already been said: “You don’t have to learn any more once you’ve ended your formal education”.
    I’ve met many people who seem to implicitly believe that, I was one of them as well. Luckily, I know now that not only does the life teach us all the time – that’s obvious for everyone, but it’s in our hands to continue and force the learning ourselves.

  8. Diane says

    When my mom was diagnosed with advanced cancer, as painful as the journey was, it was a blessing. I learned that stuff is stuff. True happiness is being in the moment and being grateful for the sun on your face, kiss on the cheek, and the small miracles we experience every day. I miss her terribly, however, still carry the lessons I learned with me every day. No matter what life brings, for this moment, I CAN do what I need to do. I choose to put one foot in front of the other.

  9. says

    The self-defeating lie I once believed was that I did not have selling skills (and could not learn them). I’ve learned over the past few years that I can sell (I’ve sold services to webdesign companies, for example).

    Selling is still a challenging exercise for me. That’s why I’ve continued to study the topic and work on it more.

    P.S. Marc – you mentioned in another post that you learned the importance of sales skills from interviewing successful people. Where did you get your start in selling?

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