Our Lies Are Holding Us Back

Treat Thompson



This is a republishing of The Steady Fella Newsletter. Every week readers use the timeless insights on passion, productivity, philosophy, and happiness from this newsletter to build towards the life they want.

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The lies we tell ourselves about our progress on goals hold us back from growth and improvement.

If we want to lose weight, we'll say things like:

  • "I've been eating pretty healthy"
  • "I've been trying hard lately"

But in reality, our diet and activity level has stayed the same.

If we want to read more, we'll say things like:

  • "I've been pretty consistent"
  • "I'm doing well considering how busy I am"

But in reality, we haven't stuck to a routine and could be doing much better.

Whether we're aware of it or not, we use these phrases to feel better about the fact that we're not performing as well as we initially wanted to.

Because these phrases aren't standing on measurable information, they prevent self-awareness. Without self-awareness, achieving goals, changing our lives, and self-improvement, in general, becomes a near-impossible task.

Example with someone trying to lose weight:

  • They tell themselves "I've been eating pretty healthy", even though their diet has been terrible.
  • One month later they still haven't lost any weight.
  • Because they've convinced themselves that they're eating healthy, they figure they have to change their workout program to lose weight.

The comforting lie prevented a positive change because they weren’t accepting the real problem.

We misdiagnose issues and so our solutions become shots in the dark.

A great way to achieve self-awareness is to use raw and unbiased information to see where you stand.

James Clear uses an example of a doctor and a patient:

  • A doctor could ask a patient how their chest feels or the doctor could use a stethoscope.
  • If the doctor's diagnosis is based on the patient's words, it could be skewed by the patient's emotions and feelings.
  • If the doctor's diagnosis is based on the stethoscope, they have independent information on where the patient truly stands.

Techniques I use for self-awareness

Habit Tracker

When trying to build habits, a habit tracker brings me about the most self-awareness possible.

Every day when I complete a habit I check it off. There's no skewed or biased information, I can see exactly how consistent I've been.

Workout Journal

A workout journal works similar to the habit tracker. It shows exactly how consistent I've been and whether or not I've been pushing myself to do more.

Screen Time

Looking at my MacBook's and iPhone's screen time is the purest form of self-awareness.

It removes lies like "I've been too busy" and "I've been trying hard" because you see exactly which apps you used and how much time you spent on them.

You can't say "I have no time to read" when you spend 2 hours on YouTube.

You don't have to use the same techniques as me, yours should just follow the essence of them: gather pure information as a platform for self-improvement.

This weeks quote

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action - Benjamin Disraeli

This quote is saying that you can't get what you want if you don't take action. Things don't fall into your lap.

Although taking action doesn't guarantee you'll get what you want, not taking action guarantees you won't get it.

This weeks question

When you look back are there areas in your life where more self-awareness would've helped you reach a goal better?

My answer:

When I was starting my first blog, I kept lying to myself. I said I was doing well considering how busy I am with school and that I was making enough effort. Looking back, I realized I was just comforting myself because I was disappointed about my progress.

If I was journalling the work I put in and looking at my screen time back then, I would've had the self-awareness I needed to grow.