Your Pants are on Fire!
“Liar Liar Pants on Fire, hanging from the telephone wire!” I am not 100% sure of the origin of this classic children’s taunt but some sources site a connection to the 1810 poem by William Blake “The Liar”
When I think of liars and lies Pinocchio comes to mind, a wooden boy with the nose that grew with each lie he told. Or my child telling me they have brushed their teeth while their toothbrush sits dry as the Namibian sand dunes we visited last year. I swear I can see the orange sand grains slipping between the bristles as I peek into the bathroom, no water or toothpaste splatter in sight. “Are you sure?” I ask, “Let me smell your breath.” I know gross mom stuff.
Kids are not the only ones who lie loved ones, truth be told we are all liars. Working with clients around personal and professional transformation, I have a front row seat to most brutal and destructive kind of lying first hand. No not the white lie, or the untruth around the size of your best friend’s ass in those pants, I am speaking of the virtual treasure trove of lies we tell ourselves.
"The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we’re afraid. We fear we will not find love, and when we find it we fear we’ll lose it. We fear that if we don’t have love we will be unhappy.” Richard Bach
Yes, it is true. Most of us are navigating our daily life using a pack of lies, hungry and haggard as wild street dogs, nipping at our heels and keeping us small, safe and unable to live the biggest, boldest and best version of our lives.
Sometimes these lies are spoken aloud but often clients don’t speak the lie outright. The words never pass their lips, but almost worse, these unspoken bro-code-esque universal secrets permeate in our psyche and accompany us as we head off to do battle with traffic, deadlines, Facebook and Whole Foods. On any day of the week we are thinking these things about our capability, power and place in the world.
Before you start with the “na-ah, not me” bullshit, let me review the top four whoppers that I meet in my work:
1) “I’ll be happy when…”
The “I’ll be happy when” is a classic postponement tactic. I am going to put off being happy until everything is just perfect. If you’ve listened to any of my talks, perfect my darlings simply does not exist (looks for an upcoming blog, “Perfect, let’s bury the bitch”). The other critical flaw is this logic, and what leads me to say “check your pants for scorch marks,” is the association of your happiness to something external: when I lose the weight, graduate, get a job, find a man, move to the beach, retire, etc. Happiness is found in the moment and it need not be conditional. It comes from within and personally I believe from expressing gratitude. So instead of saying I’ll be happy when I get home from work, try to be happy right now. Try it on, ease into it with a simple statement of gratitude for where you are right now. You can either be happy when or happy now; and I choose happy with where I am now.
2) “She sure has it all together”
Ah…No, Nada, Nope, no one has it all together. Not even Oprah. In fact, the more together someone appears to be, is a tell to a real shit show on the inside. I remember learning of the Buddhist principal that what makes us human is that we all suffer and being frankly pissed off about it.
The positive psychology student in me wanted to go all Tony Robbins and start getting up in my face, a bullshit hunting finger pointing giant of optimal living (I love you Tony!). One of the tactics that shifted so much for me was to look at the same people I used to envy for their thick hair, job title, Instagram photos of cocktails and sunsets or teeth brushing children and think, I know you. I know you suffer too. I see you for what you are, precariously walking a tightrope strung between ecstasy and depression. Big hugs to you too Instagram star!
3) “I missed my window…”
Often showing up with it’s sister as I am too old, I missed my window is the lie dealing with timing and looking back at a road not taken. Blah! As a forty something with lots of younger friends I feel this one sneaking up on me some days.
Did you ever read those choose your own adventure books where at the end of a chapter you had to make the choice between two options for the story to continue? I believe that life is like that. That opportunities present themselves to us, and we choose: page 10 to fight the dragon or page 21 to rescues the prince, but that there are no wrong choices. In my childhood books, there was always a way to get back to the other track and worst case, you could close the book and go back to the beginning and begin again. I believe we can always begin again.
If there is something you really want to have, be or do start today. Take on small step. If you are feeling old, get over it! There are a ton of famous people who peaked late in life: Julia Child’s television premier at 51, Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa at 76 and Charles Darwin was 50 years old before he published On the Origin of the Species.
4) “I am not ready yet”
Another delaying tactic, this lie hangs around with “I’ll be happy when,” in the mystic cotton candy dream land of must…be…perfect. “I am not ready yet” lie speaks to our insecurity around our skills and abilities. For me this plays out in my massive drive for more training and certificates validating me. You might need one more degree, a bigger title, more resources or something more unique to say.
The trouble with “I am not ready yet” my lovelies is that contrary to popular belief, time is not a renewable resource. I not now when? If you hear your inner critic feeding you this lie, or are feeling not ready, check for the truth in the matter. Do some work, decide that you are ready enough, and take the leap of faith. Unfortunately, as you make yourself business getting ready, someone else is doing big bold things. What is one small thing you could do today to move yourself forward?
If you find yourself in the Liar’s club, don’t fret you are in wonderful company, I am here too! This is a club that is non-exclusive, with a seat at the table for each of our precious souls. Come in, help yourself to a cookie and lukewarm coffee, my name is Melissa and I am a liar too. Together we’ll work on an antidote; a small step forward toward the truth of the matter, the wish in our heart, our own Big Bold Life.
PS: Brush your teeth! You never know who might be asking!
Make a moment, Make a Day, Make a Life!