4 Ways to Stop Lying to Yourself
I paused in front of the wooden easel, eagerly taking in the sight of three paintbrushes lined up in a neat row, the cheerful mounds of paint in primary colors nested on a porcelain plate, and there front and center, the blank canvas. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming urge to flee.
The crazy chatter in my head started all at once. You haven’t touched a paintbrush since seventh grade, what makes you think you can paint? Do you know anything about mixing colors? There are serious artists in this room - you’re a poser; they’ll string you up on the wall next to that painting of a scary clown…
I have learned not to argue with these voices. To do so in public puts you in the very real danger of being hauled off to a psychiatric ward. I also know that I’ll never win. But I have developed a helpful technique over the years. I called it the LIRI Method. I’ll share that with you in a moment. But first, let’s pinpoint where these voices are coming from.
You can blame a very primitive and small region of your brain. Author Susan Cain who has done extensive research on this part of the brain for her book, Quiet, calls it the brain’s emotional switchboard. It receives information from our senses and then signals the rest of the brain and nervous system how to respond. One of its functions is to instantly detect new or threatening things – say a bear in the woods – and sends rapid-fire signals through our body, triggering the fight-or-flight response.
This is the amygdala. I call her Amy. She’s responsible for lies we tell ourselves.
When we were hunters and gatherers, we needed Amy. She kept us alive. As we evolved, so did our brain. It added a part known as the neocortex. Where Amy is emotional and instinctual, Neo is the seat of rationality. Neo soothes our unwarranted fears and keeps Amy in check.
But Amy has been around a long time and in certain situations, she drowns out Neo’s voice of reason.
But there are things you can do to help out Neo.
4 Ways to Stop Lying to Ourselves
1. Listen. Is there a measure of truth? “You haven’t lifted a paintbrush since seventh grade, what makes you think you can paint?” True. But there’s nothing to prove that I can’t, which is why I’m here to find out.
2. Isolate. If you don’t know yet and needs to further investigate what the voice is telling you, isolate. Pretend that the voice is a chatty rodent. Pick it up by its tail and drop it inside a mason jar and leave it there until you can validate its message.
3. Reframe. “I think I can paint because I have done it before and I was quite good.”
4. Ignore. If in the reframing you find that the voice has no measure of truth, ignore it. In my case, I threw on a smock and started mixing paint.
What has Amy been telling you?
Future Proof Drill #4: Are your reasons for not starting or following through with your dreams valid reasons or B.S. excuses? Take five minutes to list them on paper then use the LIRI Method to get at the truth. Go over them with a trusted advisor.
If you missed the last Future Proof Drill, click here.