People tell lies all the time – to their friends, their bosses, their spouses, their relatives, to the bum on the street who just wants a dollar – but the most insidious lies are the ones that people tell to themselves. These are the ones that keep people trapped, that keep them from moving on with their lives in a healthy way, and that keep them from fulfilling their potential. And since they’re lies we tell to ourselves, they can be tough to identify. But fear not, gentle friends, we’ve got you covered. If you ever find yourself uttering one of the following phrases, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a dirty, dirty liar but it might be time for some good ol’ self-examination because, after all, these are eight of the most common lies that people tell themselves.
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8 “I’m Just Taking a Year Off.”
You hear this one all the time. A dude or lady dude comes home from school and announces that they just need a break, and that after a year off they’ll head back to school, get that degree and make everyone proud. And then next year comes and nothing really changes. And then another year passes, and another, and… you get the point. It’s easy to fall prey to this line of thinking because the system is set up so you can pretty much just be carried along until the day you graduate college. With every step, there is an infrastructure there designed to keep you going. But once you step outside that system, no one is there to prod you or to do all of the little things that keep you moving right along. And when that happens all that’s left is self-motivation, and for a 19 or 20 year-old kid who’s never been outside that system before, well… it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to convince yourself that you’ll just rejoin the flow again one day then to take the steps on your own to make it happen.
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7 “This Isn’t Permanent”
A close cousin of the year off, “This isn’t permanent” is the cry of someone who has settled. They’re adamant that they’re just treading water with this dead end job until the day when their dreams miraculously come true. Don’t ask them how it’s going to happen, it just will, okay? Of course, then they wake up one day, they’re forty years-old and their floor manager is bitching to them that these grills aren’t going to sell themselves. If you ever find yourself uttering either “I’m just taking a year off” or “This isn’t permanent,” just be very, very careful because you are walking on dangerous, dangerous ground, my friend.
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6 “People Just Don’t Get Me”
No, they get you. It’s just that, well, you’re an asshole. Probably, anyway. People aren’t required to like you, or agree with you, or worship your singular snowflake existence, so instead of jumping up on the cross and caterwauling like Morrissey, maybe you should ask yourself if you’re doing something that turns other people off. And if you are, well then that’s up to you to either live with or change. Go your own way, do your own thing, be that special snowflake you know you were meant to be, but don’t play the victim if it turns people off either.
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5 “I Can Totally Change Her/Him”
Look, if it isn’t right, it isn’t right. No matter what you do, you’re not going to be able to change your significant other. Not without making them feel resentful anyway. People tell themselves this one because they don’t want to admit that it simply isn’t going to work out and because the fear of being alone is worse to them than the fear of being with the wrong person. And so they’ll latch onto someone – anyone – and try to mold them into their ideal mate, which is totally ass-backward and will just end up in heartache and misery. But what the hell, at least you had a date to that office party that one time so, uh, you’ve got that going for you. Congrats?
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4 “I’m Nothing Like My Mother/Father”
Suuuure you aren’t. And hey, it’s totally believable. At least until that day when you catch yourself screeching at your kid in exactly the same tone of voice as dear old mom or dad, or pulling the same passive-aggressive crap that drove you nuts all those years. Or throwing a fit just like they did because you can’t get that damn garage door to work like it’s supposed to. Or giving the same speech you heard growing up when you catch your kid smoking pot. Or…
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3 “The Ending of _____ was Actually Genius”
We all do this one. Our favorite show comes to an end and inside we think “What in the hell was that crap?” And then the next day you find yourself explaining to anyone who will listen why David Chase is a genius and why the abrupt black screen totally fit with Tony Soprano’s blah blah blah. Or why The Island was totally explained or why you didn’t need to know what Starbuck really was or any of the other million things we’ve all said or heard over the years. Extra special self-denial liar liar pants on fire points go to those special souls who swore up and down that The Phantom Menace was “totally good you guys.” It’s just easier than admitting the truth, I guess – that you invested hours and hours, and sometimes years and years, in a story that ended with a metaphorical fart.
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2 “I’ll Just Do a Few Extra Reps at the Gym”
We’ve all said this one, or at least a variant of it. A few extra reps, a couple of extra minutes on the treadmill… it all seems so simple and oh so achievable when someone tosses that bucket of chicken skins down like a gauntlet. But then the day of reckoning comes and, well, you’ve kinda gotta get to work and what the hell, you’ll just do it the next day. But then the next day comes and you hit the snooze button one more time than normal and so you make a plan to carve out some time over the weekend, but then your buddies stop by with a six pack and oh shit, they’ve got chicken wings and okay, okay, you’ll just double your normal routine and… it never ends.
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1 “I’m Never Drinking Again”
You filthy, filthy liar.
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(Previously published on January 10, 2013.)