Image from Steve Klotz
Lying, as you probably know, is a direct assault on our peace of mind and, consequently, our happiness. While we generally recognize the intentional lies that we or others tell, most of us do not recognize the ‘unintentional lies’ that come out of our mouths so ‘naturally’ and habitually. Let me explain.
One of the things that I help my clients to do is to speak accurately. In fact, I sometimes tease them about being compulsive liars :-). What do I mean by that? Take a look at the sentence below:
I suffer from anxiety.
In terms of its tense and the durability of its claim, is it any different to this sentence:
They have a son
No, it isn’t.
Both sentences occur in the simple present tense and therefore reflect ongoing truths/situations. Take the second sentence, for instance. Most of us will reasonably expect that the people who have a son will continue to have a son. The ongoing nature of that truth is built into the tense of the sentence. In fact, the tense of that sentence is seeded with a certain intent or expectation!
The same applies in this sentence: “I suffer from anxiety”. It too, has built into it the meaning of something ongoing, something that is expected to continue, in this case, anxiety.
People are often careless with their words, lacking mindfulness in what they say. They often speak on autopilot. In other words, they rely on past scripts that are tucked away in their subconscious mind and that are automatically retrieved in response to aural, physical, visual and other kinds of stimuli/cues. As a result, they often make statements that perpetuate a condition or situation or event including those that they wish to change!
Now, whilst it may be true that you may have experienced (note that I say ‘experienced’ rather than ’suffered from’) anxiety in the past and often and intensely, by saying ‘I suffer from anxiety’, you are allowing that experience/condition to be an ongoing one. You are expecting it to continue.
The simple present tense is used to express a situation that is not expected to change. If you want to cease ’suffering from anxiety’ than one of the things you must do is not anticipate it in any way, whether through your thoughts, words or actions.
Anticipation is really a magnet of attraction!
So, how can you express yourself in this situation? Simple. Speak accurately. Say exactly what is true. For example, you might say:
“I experienced anxiety over the last six years. I experienced it almost everyday for the last six years. I felt awful when I felt anxious. I was unable to do my work effectively and sometimes, I even stayed away from work because I could not face my colleagues…”
See how that is different to this:
“I suffer from anxiety. I have had it for six years now. I suffer from anxiety everyday. I feel awful when I feel anxious. I am unable to work effectively and sometimes, I even stay away from work because I cannot face my colleagues…”
To start with, apart from being technically inaccurate, the second set of statements is psychologically disabling, condemning you to a supposedly predestined future, one that you are not able to influence!
So, if you really want to change something in your life, be very mindful of how you think and speak about it! Above all, stop being a compulsive liar!