12 Lies People Love to Tell You

12 Lies People Like to Tell YOU

“Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons.”
―Michael Jackson

Over the years you’ve developed a set of beliefs based on what others have told you.  The problem is, many of these people weren’t telling the truth.  They were merely repeating the little, seemingly innocent lies someone else once told them.  Now, the false beliefs they’ve ingrained in your mind are impeding your potential and holding you back from the life you’re capable of living.

Here are twelve lies you’ve likely heard and the truth that will set you free:

1.  What you need in life is comfort and safety.

If you want to make an impact, big or small, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  All growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.  Maybe the thing you’re scared of is exactly what you should do.  Sometimes life is about risking it all for a dream no one can see but you.

2.  You have way too much to lose.

In the end, you will not regret the things you have done nearly as much as the things you have left undone.  It’s always better to be left with a few “oh wells,” than a bunch of “what ifs.”  It’s better to have a lifetime full of experiences and mistakes you learned from, rather than a heart full of regrets and empty dreams.  Someday you will want to look back at your life and say, “I can’t believe I did that!” instead of, “Gosh, I wish I would have…” (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  Your dream is impossible.

When a dream matters enough to a person, that person will find a way to achieve what at first seemed impossible.  Let that person be YOU.  It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.  Go after your dream, no matter how unattainable others tell you it is.  What’s impossible to them may not be impossible for you.

4.  Being self-centered is always wrong.

You must choose yourself and live your life from beginning to end; no one else can do it for you.  Claiming full control over your health, dreams, and well-being are some of the areas in your life where you get to be a little selfish and not feel bad about it.  If you want to reach your goals, you have to be the center of this part of your journey.  You have to make it work for you and you alone.  It’s not selfishness, it’s self-care and self-improvement.  Anything less is a setup for failure.

5.  You need the approval of others.

People are sometimes too quick to judge, but slow to correct themselves.  Don’t be one of them.  Focus on your own growth, goals, and self-worth.  Leave people to their opinions and judgments.  Let them respect you for who you are, and not for who they want you to be…  Or let them walk away if they choose.  Either way, they can’t harm you; it’s their understanding that is faulty, not yours.

6.  The strongest, happiest people have fewer problems.

Strength doesn’t come from what you can do; it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t do.  When you are at your lowest point, you are open to the greatest positive change.  Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the strength to deal with them.  The strongest people are the ones who feel pain, accept it, learn from it, and fight through it.  They turn their wounds into wisdom.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

7.  Situations are either positive or negative.

The Chinese symbol for the word “crisis” is written using two strokes of a pen.  One stroke stands for danger, and the other for opportunity.  In other words, in a crisis, beware of the danger, but also recognize the opportunity.  Life always balances itself out.  Everything that happens is neither positive nor negative; it just depends on your perspective.

8.  Perfect relationships exist.

The love of your life isn’t perfect, you aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect.  But if you can make each other laugh once in awhile, cause each other to think twice about the sweetness of life, and both admit to being human and making mistakes, your relationship is something special.  No, you two may not always choose the most poetic words, and there will likely be inconsiderate slip-ups on occasion, but that’s what makes your bond real.  Smile when they make you happy, speak up when they make you mad, and miss them when they’re gone.  Love hard when there is love to be had.  Perfect love doesn’t exist, but true love does, and it’s worth the effort.

9.  Love is an obligation.

Love between two people comes because both people want to share their love, not because YOU want it from the other person.  Your family, friends, co-workers, partner – they all love you because they choose to, not because you want them to.  Love is meant to be felt, enjoyed and lived, not to be forced on anyone.

10.  You can’t be kind to everyone.

Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, nor forgiveness for acceptance.  It’s about knowing resentment is not on the path to happiness.  Having confidence and class is the ability to walk away from a bad situation with a smile on your face and forgiveness in your heart.

11.  You need more to be happy.

There are two ways of being rich: One is to have all you want, the other is to be satisfied with what you have.  Accept and appreciate things now, and you’ll find more happiness in every moment you live.  Happiness comes when you stop complaining about the troubles you have and offer thanks for all the troubles you don’t have.  And remember, you have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.  (Read The How of Happiness.)

12.  It’s too late.

Anyone can run away; it’s super easy.  Facing issues and working through them makes you strong.  Focus on your dreams, not your problems.  It’s not too late.  A hundred disappointments in the past can’t equal the power of one positive action right now.  Talk is cheap; action is priceless.  Go for it!  Give yourself another chance.

The floor is yours…

What would you add to this list?  What (seemingly innocent) lies do people often tell each other?  How have these lies affected you personally?  Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.

Photo by: Shadi Samawi


  1. Susan Rae says

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your bi-weekly inspiration (and your new book) is helping me through a difficult time. Thank you.

    #2 and #3 in this post really spoke to me. Both are a little lies that have held me back for a long time. Others have told me these, and even worse, I’ve told them to myself for far too long. Thanks for another needed kick.

  2. says

    Wonderful list!! I find that many of my therapy clients were told to “suck it up” when they were upset about something as a child. Instead of being about to feel their pain, they were told that their crying was a weakness. If they had been able to grieve their pain they may not have developed the depression, anxiety, somatic complaints, and addictions they have today. Unresolved and unprocessed grief has a way of returning and saying, “I’m back!”

  3. Dev says

    Oh, yes… the little lies we tell each other. This is something I’ve been working on – both not telling and not listening too.

    The lie I would add: You are not enough just the way you are. You need to be more. etc.

    Your book has been helping me with this realization of this lie. This line from the Self-Love chapter really spoke to me:

    “Don’t lose YOU in your search for acceptance by others. Be aware that you will always appear to be a little less than some people prefer you to be, but that most people are unaware that you are so much more then what they see.”

    Thank you, yet again.

  4. Jess says

    I would add the lie: Everyone else knows what they are doing (or at the very least, knows more than you). NOT true at all.

    So many people believe this. It’s not true. Everyone is exploring or struggling in their own way. Nobody was handed a manual or an instruction guide for life – everyone is just figuring it out using their gut instinct, some brain power and a crooked Allen key. Don’t let yourself think otherwise…

  5. Allison says

    Another lie to add: You have to strive for perfection.

    … I am a music teacher, and I tell my students all the time that its okay to just be ‘okay’ at something. They don’t need to strive for perfection. And when I hear someone say ‘practice makes perfect” I always correct them and say that practice makes you better … Practice makes progress… But not “perfect!”

  6. Linda Sand says

    I believed “them” when they told me I couldn’t teach people to build houses to live in instead of trying to live in houses as they were being built. Then Sarah Susanka did it anyway– in the same time frame in which I would have been doing it if I’d not believed those lies. At least someone got the job done and she did it very well indeed.

  7. Betsy says

    My lie is #1, being uncomfortable with becoming comfortable out side my comfort zone.

    On a positive note, yes to #8, true love does exist, and when one finds it, it is truly amazing. I had the most amazing true love. We both learned to give and take, support the other when needed, and be happy with each other – the flaws as well as the great things. Very much worth the effort.

    Thank you again.

  8. Stephanie says

    I loved this one! I laughed through all of the lies, which are usually clothed as Conventional Wisdom.

    Let me take one of them. “3. Your dream is impossible.” Ha! That’s a challenge. I’m living my dream. Along with that is, “12. It’s too late.” I’m still alive. So as long as I’m here and breathing and capable, I will fight for my dream! It’s not too late. It’s never too late.

  9. says

    LOL on 3 guys. I think of all the world’s greatest people, then I think about how many folks told them their dreams were impossible.

    If the highest achievers listened to these skeptics we would still be cave men and cave women 😉

    All is possible. All is an opportunity. Remember this and surround yourself with winners to see only possibilities.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Dan says

    Thanks so much, Marc and Angel! You always seem to post when I need to hear what you have to say. I cannot express how much your blog and your book have helped me through my difficult times and help me to appreciate what I have and the opportunities before me. You are wonderful and invaluable.

  11. says

    For a while I bought into this one… That’s it really is “normal” to do a job you don’t like so long as you’re getting paid great money… that way you can use the money to do other things you like outside of work.

    However, there came a point where I added up the 40-60 hours a week I was working a job that I didn’t love, and calculated those hours over my working lifetime, and I decided I just wasn’t willing to trade a huge chunk of my waking hours in life pretending to be joyful, feeling numb and wondering if it would ever get any easier or better.

    Instead, I decided it was worth the risk stepping outside my comfort zone to do something I knew I’d love without the guarantee of secure income for the possibility I could make it work. The risk was worth it :)

  12. peter says

    Another lie people tell you is “no pain, no gain” – you don’t have to work so hard at the expense of your physical and mental well being all the time. Just do the best you can, and things will fall in to place the way they are supposed to be. Always find time to rest even in your busy schedule.

  13. says

    Nice post!

    I would add that people tell you, “You have to (fill in the blank).” You have to do this or you have to do that. No, you don’t. You are the master and commander of your “ship” called life. Do what you want to do. :)

  14. Julie says

    Been fed these lies all my life… and I’ve been teaching my children not to listen to them. Oh, the things I could’ve accomplished!

  15. says

    Seems to me I’ve heard all of these lies at some point… but the one that really messed with my head was a variation of #5. In my clan, it was “you need to marry a good man”. The implication was that girls were less valuable without a man – the only reason I got married was to fit in. Not surprisingly, it didn’t last long!

    And, I’m still working on undoing the belief that my self-worth is tied up with someone else.

  16. says

    I have lived my life by breaking all the rules and ignoring the “do not enter” signs. As a result, I have achieved and surpassed my wildest dreams. Never let anyone make-up your mind for you. Fear is a message, not a mandate. What’s right is not always easy – and – what’s easy, is not always right. Be willing to be humiliated and crushed – – it hurts, but it won’t kill you – and if you keep going, the clouds will open-up and the glorious sun will shine upon you!

  17. Jessika says

    Shel Silverstein said it so well with his poem, ‘The Voice':
    There is a voice inside of you
    That whispers all day long.
    “I feel that this is right for me,
    I know that this is wrong.”
    No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
    Or wise man can decide
    What’s right for you- just listen to
    The voice that speaks inside.

  18. says

    Thank you for this. It came at exactly the right time. I’m talking to an agent today about the script I’m working on in the hope this person will represent me, and was procrastinating out of fear of another rejection. Actually having access to someone who may be willing and able to help me is way out of my comfort zone because it’s gotten hard for me to imagine I could actually have my dream and that it would fall into place so easily after struggling for so long. This was just the confidence boost I needed to try again and risk being let down and hurt again.

    #1 & #2 made me laugh. I’ve gone without comfort and safety and grew from it exponentially, being more productive, focused and driven than I’ve ever been, where I could clearly see all my dreams come true, making me more creative far beyond what I even dreamed. But now that I have that comfort and safety, I’m so afraid of losing it again that it’s made me lazy, unfocused and creatively unproductive, not to mention unhappy, where I can’t see any of my dreams clearly anymore. It’s like I need the hunger and challenge to have passion and drive to achieve my dreams. There has to be a better way. I don’t want to go back to being homeless and struggling to survive, but I won’t be happy doing the “safe” non-creative job either.

    I need to take the risk again and have faith again and trust my instincts again, and know in my heart and gut that it’s all falling into place because it’s finally exactly the right time.

    This reminded me of a fortune cookie message I got last week: “A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.” Haha! This is so true.

  19. says

    I think #4 is the most important on the list. Many people do say that doing what’s best for you is selfish. It’s only since I started to think about and do what is really best for ‘me’ that I have become much happier and started to make better decisions for myself.

  20. says

    I’d add that people love to tell us to fix our weaknesses. We can spend our lives trying to get good at something that isn’t natural for us. Sometimes it is better to focus on your strengths and work around your weaknesses. We don’t have to be perfect at everything. We all have our own unique gifts.

  21. Nikki says

    Sometimes I feel I am the least human person alive. I know writing this comment here beats the point of reading what you write, but having been an idealist, and having seen people, and life just give me nothing but disappointment over and over, I feel I should just give up on the goals I had set myself.

    It is easy for people to be kind. The harder feat is being okay with the realisation that kindness despite its sincerity, may just be pretension.

  22. says

    My favorite lie… “It is better to give than to receive.” That’s crazy talk! And if it were true, everyone would be running around trying to give and too few people would be willing to receive. It’s simple math…for every giving, there must be a receiver. Neither is “better” than the other. They are in balance.

    And to take it one step further…giving is psychologically easier than receiving because there’s no sense of self worth needed to give. You can give the best parts of yourself away because you don’t feel worthy of having them. To be willing to receive means you feel worthy of letting gifts from others into your world.

    Great article, as always. Thank you for giving it….I am happy to receive! :)

  23. Brian Pruett says

    I’ve never commented on one of your blogs even though I’ve been reading them for about a year now. That being said, I couldn’t help myself but respond to #6. It resonated so much when I read “When you are at your lowest point, you are open to the greatest positive change.”

    That’s the truest statement I’ve heard in a while. Whenever you’re at your all time low, when you think you can’t make it another day, God picks you up and gives you strength for tomorrow. Before I knew it I was able to learn and make positive changes in my life. If you don’t go through lows than you won’t learn much. Through the toughest times comes the greatest opportunities to change and learn!

    Thanks for your posts!

  24. Karinne says

    When you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain. This allows for the good times that you will have to become amazing, and worth cherising. Sometimes people live there life like woe is me but that is because they are unhappy with theirself. The best thing to do in this situation is realise someone has it worst, and that no matter how bad your flaws are someone overlooks them and identifies the real you. The real you includes your flaws and they are only flaws when you dont like something about yourself. Flaws are something that can be changed! When life gets tough understand that it can and will get better if you want it to. Never give up, stay strong, and don’t forget that everyone is truly special.

  25. says

    I love this list. One thing I would add is, “There is nothing I can do”. Even in the most hopeless situation, you can do something. You can take tiny steps. Just one step moves you from the place you were into a new one. With action comes perspective.

    Something else I would add is the belief that what you want to do in your life is dependent on someone else’s agenda. I remember a friend of mine giving her husband an ultimatum. He was passionate about photography and had been considering leaving his corporate job to become a photographer. She told him she would give him a year to pursue his dream, if he wasn’t able to make it work in a year he would have to sell all his photography equipment. When the year was up, he sold all his equipment. He used to share these amazing photographs and all of that ended because of a deadline imposed on his creativity. Don’t let people tell you your time is up on your dreams.

  26. says

    @All: I loved reading all your replies. Thank you so much. I have heard all the lies you’ve shared at least once or twice in my life. But of course, the important thing is to be able to recognize lies like these when we hear them. Till next time… 😉

  27. Maxi says

    This entry helped me decide on my career path. All the points you made answered all my troubles.

    Thank you and God Bless!

  28. Robin says

    The one lie I was controlled by was that I had to put EVERYONE first at all costs. That cost was to me and my worthiness. If I didn’t put others first, then I wasn’t any good, helpful, kind, etc. I was almost 40 before I learned the TRUTH – I have to take care of myself before I can do for anyone else. I have been telling others this truth ever since.

  29. theresa says

    Something that I heard somewhere comes to mind when I’m dealing with others is: How does that person make you feel about yourself? Forget how you feel about them for a second, and really think about how they make you feel about you. If its less than stellar, I walk away.

  30. Chizoba says

    A very good post as usual. I share your ideas with friends on my Facebook page. You guys are great. You’ve helped me see life and each day differently. I see a lot of possibilities in life.

    Thanks a million.

  31. says

    So true.
    These lies almost exclusively stem from the person’s own fears and regrets. (The fear that you might actually succeed where they never tried is unbearable to most people – better then to keep everyone from even trying!)

    Especially #1 and #2 are what’s holding people back these days; it embodies the standard norm for life that we’ve had imprinted by social conditioning: “Settle for the safety of mediocrity, or you might lose everything.”

    Awesome post!

  32. says

    I love this post! I really agree with Mathias’ comment that the reason people tell us these things is because of their own fear and regret!

    It’s so easy for us to think that our friends and family are telling us these things because they want the best for us but usually the reason they say this is because of something to do with them, not something to do with us. Thanks for the reminder!


  33. Rosemary says

    Here’s mine.

    Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    Talented people often hear “oh, you can do that (insert need or skill here); you’re so talented”. But having a talent or skill doesn’t mean that you enjoy doing that thing. You may have done so in the past out of need and put aside doing things you are equally skilled at and enjoy doing. For instance, why deal with doing the annual taxes (even tax software doesn’t make it pleasant) when you could better spend your time doing something you enjoy like fixing up the house.

    It’s a bit of a reverse lie and becomes a trap that you have to “prove”. Response to this lie is to say that despite your many talents/skills, you must choose how best to spend your time.

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