Lying to others is wrong, but lying to yourself is an absolute tragedy.
“Earlier today, in the last few hours before she went into a coma, she told me her only regret was that she didn’t appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose that she has had in the last two years, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. ‘I’ve accomplished so much recently,’ she said. ‘If I had only known, I would have started sooner. I wouldn’t have told myself all those little lies that prevented me from truly living every day of my life.’”
I recorded those lines in my journal exactly 12 years ago today, right after I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who was desperately fighting for her life. It honestly still breaks my heart to know it was a battle she ultimately lost. She never awoke from that coma.
For over a decade now I’ve lived with my late friend’s last words to me echoing in the back of my mind. I’ve let her sentiments guide me through thick and thin. Specifically, I’ve committed myself to noticing when those little lies she mentioned creep up in my subconscious mind. The list below is a highlight of those little lies, along with some key points of clarity I try to remember — some good reminders we all need.
I pass this list on to you in hopes that the next time you decide to unclutter your life and clean up your space, you start with your intellectual space by clearing out the old subconscious lies and negative self-talk you sometimes recite to yourself. And I hope my friend’s last words to me linger in your mind too, as fuel for making every day count.
It’s time to STOP telling yourself…
- I don’t have enough yet to be happy. – In every mistake and struggle there is a message. Some people miss the message because they’re too busy berating themselves for the mistake, or fretting obsessively over the problem. To be upset about what you don’t have is always a waste of what you do have. The happiest people are rarely the luckiest, and they usually don’t have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way. The reason so many people give up is because they tend to look at what’s missing, and how far they still have to go, instead of what’s present, and how far they have come.
- My dreams are impossible. – Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours. The best thing you can do in life is follow your intuition. Take calculated risks. Don’t just make the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what might happen. If you do, nothing will ever happen. And if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. So let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions speak louder than your words. Do something every day that your future self will thank you for.
- I am stuck with people who hurt me. – Life is too short. Look out for yourself. If someone continuously mistreats you, have enough respect for yourself to create some healthy boundaries. It may hurt for a while, but it’ll be OK. You’ll be OK. Oftentimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth, but because we finally realize our own worth.
- My failed relationships were a waste of time. – There are certain people who aren’t meant to fit into your life, but no relationship is ever a waste of time. If it doesn’t bring you what you want, it teaches you what you DON’T want. We rarely lose friends, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are. Never force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they know your worth, they will surely create one for you. And remember, when you’re up, your ‘friends’ know who you are, when you’re down, you know who your “real friends” are. It usually just takes some time to figure it all out. (Note: Marc and I take a deeper dive into difficult relationships in our book, “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently”.)
- Things will never get better. – There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s part of living — to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become. When you find yourself cocooned in isolation and cannot find your way out of the darkness, remember that this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings. Just because today is a terrible day doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be the best day of your life. You just got to get there.
- Failure is bad. – Sometimes you have to fail a hundred times to succeed. And no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying. So don’t get so hung up on one failed attempt that you miss the opening for many more. All of your ideas that don’t work are simply stepping stones on your way to the one idea that does. And remember, failure is not falling down; failure is staying down when you have the choice to get back up. Always get back up! Oftentimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
- Great things will come to me with ease. – In various ways, we are who we choose to be. Nobody’s going to come and save you, you’ve got to save yourself. Nobody’s going to give you anything, you’ve got to go out and earn it. Nobody knows what you want except for you. And nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t achieve it. So never leave your key to happiness in someone else’s pocket, and don’t wait on someone else to build your life for you. Be the architect and keeper of your own path. And remember that the more you take responsibility for your past and present, the more you are able to create the future you seek. (Read Emotional Freedom.)
- My past is indicative of my future. – At some point, we’ve all made mistakes, been walked on, been used and forgotten. We’ve let people take advantage of us, and we’ve accepted way less than we deserve. But we shouldn’t regret one moment of it, because in those moments we’ve learned a lot from our bad choices. We’ve learned who we can trust and who we can’t. We’ve learned the meaning of real friendship. We’ve learned how to tell when people are lying and when they’re sincere. We’ve learned how to be ourselves, and appreciate the truly great people and things in our lives as they arrive. And even though there are some things we can never recover and people who will never be sorry, we now know better for next time.
- I don’t need to meet anyone new. – It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you’ve ever made. People and priorities change. As some relationships fade others will grow. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work. Trust your judgment too. Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.
- I can’t live without those who are gone. – If someone comes into your life and has a positive impact on you, but for some reason they can’t stay, do your best not to resist this evolution. Be thankful that your paths crossed and that they somehow made you happy, even if it was just for a short while. Life is change. People really do come and go. Some come back, some don’t, and that’s okay. And just because one person leaves, doesn’t mean you should forget about everyone else who’s still standing by your side. Continue to appreciate what you have, and smile about the memories.
- I’m not ready because I’m not good enough yet. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. Stop berating yourself for being a work in progress. Start embracing it! Because being a work in progress doesn’t mean you’re not good enough today; it means you want a better tomorrow, and you wish to love yourself completely, so you can live your life fully. It means you’re determined to heal your heart, expand your mind and cultivate the gifts you know you’re meant to share. You are ready. You just need to start.
- I 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. Trust me, after that last conversation I had with my friend as she rested on her deathbed, I can honestly say most of us would rather look back at life and say, “I can’t believe I did that!” instead of, “I wish I would have…” It’s just easier to process a few “Oh wells,” than it is to process a bunch of “what ifs.” It’s easier to have a lifetime full of mistakes that you learned from, rather than a heart full of regrets and empty promises to yourself.
Now, it’s your turn…
I challenge you to put the reminders in this article to good use — to tune in to that inner voice of yours, and circumvent those little lies your subconscious mind likes to recite to you, so you can get out of your own way in the days and weeks ahead.
And before you go, please leave Marc and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this post. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
(Finally, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.)
Photo by: Brittney Bush
I love your blog and emails!! Every little write-up seems like it was written just for me. I especially pay attention to the books you recommend. Currently reading “Emotional Freedom” by Dr. Judith Orloff, which you have recommend before. I have been trying to understand/remember my dreams and this book has a great plan for doing so. I was so excited to find it. Thank you for your valuable advice and practical tips for living authentically!
Thank you for continuing to instruct and guide us. No matter what age we are, we need reminders of how to be better, especially to ourselves.
I wish I had learned #7, great things will not come to me effortlessly, a long time ago, but I didn’t. I was past thirty when I finally realized that anything worth doing is worth working hard consistently for. Now, I’m trying to help my 4-year-old figure it out, but I don’t know exactly how. She quits if she isn’t perfect the first time. I hope it’s related to her age, but I don’t know for sure.
I’m navigating this journey better than I used to though. And I’m grateful for your emails and posts.
Angela Smith says
Of course it’s related to her age – she just wants to enjoy what she is doing no matter how imperfect it is. Trying to be a perfectionist can be stressful at any age for a child or an adult, so encouragement to not fear failure is key. After all we are very likely to learn more from failure than we realise.
Several in this post resonate. And I just wanted to quickly acknowledge the contribution this site has made to my well being over the past few months… I’ve been going through a marriage break up and you guys have been there right along side of me the whole time…
Love the post, thank you. Such important lessons.
Kelly Probst says
Hello, I really like your blog. I woke up this morning with a overwhelming sadness. I believe it is because I saw on social media yesterday my estranged daughter is getting married this summer; I am not invited. I am going to move thru this sorrow. You have been a huge help. Thank you.
Margy Allen says
Kathy I’m so sorry I have an ED too and the Facebook group “encouragement for parents of adult children who have distanced themselves” has helped me a lot in my sad journey. The pain is so different to any other we experience when a child cuts us off. I really hope you are okay. I’ve accepted it now and am happy again but it took a LONG time.
Prabhjot Sidhu says
Thanks for your wisdom. I left my abusive husband after 37 years to make him realize my worth but he never did. Today I felt a wow moment after reading that you leave someone not to make them realize your worth but because you have realized your own worth.
You guys are the absolute best!
Just this morning, I copied something you wrote in your book, “1000+ Little Things happy successful people do differently “ and stuck it on my refrigerator. To help me become a happier soul.
I thank God for both of you! Keep up the excellent work!
Laura Meyer says
Hi, I have just started reading your posts. They always seem to be what I need. I will continue to always look forward to your post. Thank you for all your help.
I love all your articles and wisdom! Your recent article really spoke to me as I am finishing up my 1st year of retirement. I like to tell people my age (66) that we are in our last chapters of our lives!
Your post today touched me on many levels. I have been battling depression for months now after choosing to leave a career that was rewarding to me on many levels, and but ultimately toxic for me on others. It is the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and I could identify with almost every lie that your friend wrote. I am the metaphorical caterpillar right now, and it’s both scary and exciting! I am turning 57 in March, and am committed to change, and it being something I can embrace with excitement. Thank you for sharing this with us. I wrote every single one down in my journal so that I can go back and reread, reread, and yes- APPLY!
Ginette De Matos says
Your messages always come at the right time! Thank you Angel!
We are all works in progress. We need to be gentle and loving to ourselves. My life has been one challenge after another and now somehow at the age of 63 it doesn’t get easier. I keep trying to be gentle with myself and others while keeping toxic relationships at bay. Without the help I receive from your inspiration and encouragement, I’m not sure I could or would move forward very well on this road we call life. Thank you both for being such great life coaches!
Leah Sullivan says
I really appreciate this! I impulsively withdrew from the link, then realized, Hey, I need to look honestly at myself. Maybe this will help.
I am in my eighties. I have survived cancer and the two surgeries and 33 left breast radiation treatments that were needed to live but left their marks. I lived not fearlessly but beyond fear through those days. But I see see myself shutting down now with tv news sensationalism, with my intense protective love for my dwindling circle of family and friends, with the entropy that age and painful conditions impose. To reference the movie I loved from an earlier time, starring Susan Hayward: “I Want To Live!” Thank you for reminding me of the pitfalls and how to turn them into adventures and springboards.
Lisa Klang says
You two have helped me through so many hard times in my life. I’m truly grateful for you both! My life is amazing and I’m so happy. Not to say there aren’t still difficult times. The difference for me is I now know I can handle whatever comes my way. Your writings today have made me realize I need to really evaluate my life now and set a new goal, a new dream. I’m living so contently right now but this article really made me think. Thank you! I’m forever grateful for you.