What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told yourself? I was recently asked this question myself, and I had to stop and think about it.
It didn’t take me long to realize that some of the biggest lies I’ve told myself were in the form of staying in relationships that didn’t feel loving to me. Saying I wanted one thing, but tolerating and settling for less.
I believe many of us – especially women – can relate to this. Just last weekend, while hiking with two good friends, we were talking about how so many women choose to stay in relationships even when (and long after) they don’t feel healthy or right for them.
Staying somewhere you don’t want to be may not seem like an outward lie, but it is a form of inward deception. And if you believe that honesty and trust are the foundation for a healthy relationship, what happens when you deceive yourself about the health of your relationship?
Dishonesty With Self = Dishonesty With/From Others
I once stayed in a relationship for thirteen years even though I knew it wasn’t healthy. I caught him lying to me in the very beginning (and many times after that), but I stayed with him anyway.
None of us likes the experience of being lied to by others, so why is it so ‘easy’ to lie to ourselves?
I was young, I was insecure, and I was afraid of being alone. So I just kept lying to myself about being okay with his apologies, and I kept hoping that it would someday get better. But it didn’t.
In this example, it’s easy to put the blame on him for the dishonesty in the relationship. But if we’re being honest here – and we are – I was responsible for not being honest with myself by staying in a relationship that wasn’t what I truly wanted.
The truth is, each and every one of us is responsible for the quality of our relationships with others by the way we participate in the relationship with ourselves.
If you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself, you won’t have healthy relationships with others.
If you don’t feel valuable enough to respect yourself, you won’t be respected by others.
And if you’re not being honest with yourself, you’ll attract relationships that mirror your dishonesty.
This may not show up in ALL your relationships, but it will definitely show up in some. And it most often shows up in the romantic kind, which is why our romantic relationships are one of our greatest teachers.
Safety vs Risk
The idea of being honest with ourselves is simple enough, but not always easy! Sometimes we avoid being honest about what we know to be true because we fear the consequences. It might shake things up and we don’t always know how things will land.
While avoiding the cause of conflict might seem safe, it greatly reduces your chances of being successful in your relationships and in your life. So if your quality of life matters to you, being honest is worth the risk of temporarily shaking things up.
If you feel inspired to take action on this, there’s something incredibly powerful about putting your pen to paper, writing down some questions about your relationship, and then writing out your answers.
If you don’t have any questions in mind, here are a few to get you started:
- Why am I in this relationship?
- Do I feel satisfied or unsatisfied with this relationship?
- In what ways do I see this relationship declining and/or advancing?
- If things never changed, am I willing to continue staying in this relationship?
- Deep down, do I really want to be in this relationship? Or does it feel like an obligation?
I encourage you to make the time to really sit with these questions and answer them honestly. No one else needs to see your answers, so this is an excellent opportunity to give yourself permission to get real about how you feel.
If you have a long-term pattern of stuffing down your feelings, it might feel a bit awkward in the beginning to give them an honest voice. But once you commit to doing so, you will soon realize just how valuable your feelings are and how they will always guide you in the right direction IF you allow them to do so.
If, however, you continue to sweep them under the carpet and act like everything is okay when it’s not – or dismiss your own feelings for the sake of not hurting someone else’s feelings – you will only perpetuate the discontent and internal conflict that come from lying to yourself.
Feeling discontent and internal conflict is a clear sign that you’re lying to yourself in some way, shape or form.
Don’t Know Where to Begin? Just Follow the ABC’s
I think all humans have been in some form of denial at some point, but it’s the long-term pattern of denial that causes us to suffer the most. And some people get so “good” at lying that they don’t even realize they’re doing it (I recently saw this acronym, and thought it was perfect for this):
Many of us know that we’re lying to ourselves, but are too afraid to face the truth. If this is the case for you, you’re not alone. And if you don’t know where to begin, I encourage you to start where you are and take one step at a time in a new and more empowered direction…followed by another…followed by another.
In addition to answering the suggested questions above (or whatever questions you came up with yourself), I offer these three simple steps known as the ABC’s of healthy and effective change:
Awareness: Acknowledge and honor your awareness of not being honest with yourself. Instead of beating yourself up for it, praise yourself for your willingness to change it. You don’t need to figure it all out right now, but it all starts with awareness.
Bravery: Be brave about what you’ve been avoiding/lying to yourself about. Admit your truth and give it a voice. Once you give yourself permission to speak your truth – even if it’s only to yourself at this point – you will feel more empowered.
Conscious Choice: Make a conscious choice – and then stay committed – to make a change for the better. For example, if you know you need to learn how to communicate better in order for changes to take place in your relationship, buy a book or seek professional help on how to effectively communicate…and then apply what you learn.
If you’d like to explore the resources and services I offer to help you create and follow through on an effective plan of action toward your relationship goals, contact me here. I’d love to connect with you and support you however I can! ❤
You deserve to be in the healthy and loving relationship you truly desire, and only YOU can speak your truth about what that means to you.
Stay tuned for more mindful messages and other valuable resources – giving you helpful tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!
With love and support,
Healthy Relationship Coach
Licensed Heal Your Life® Coach