Mastering the LIES we tell ourselves – Part 2

Mastering the LIES we tell ourselves – Part 2

Lying to yourself limits your perceptions and stops you from achieving your potential.

Last post you learned 7 ways which your internal thinking can lie to you, distort your reality and make life more difficult and solutions seem impossible… Here’s the next 7 ways you can lie to yourself…

Here’s 7 more ways you can do that to yourself, and some tips to unravel the distortions.

8. Personalizing

This is when you take the actions or circumstances of other people and imaging that it’s all about you or targeted towards you. A classic example in relationships is when someone is short or grumpy with you and you immediately imagine that it is because of something you’ve done, or because they are angry at you. This distortion limits and blocks you from clear perspective. Overcome this lie by imagining you are watching the events from a neutral position, like a fly on the wall. Ask yourself, what else could be going on that could be the source of this?

9. Awfulizing

Awfulizing is a combination of two other distortions. Emotionalizing and Labeling. This is when you imagine the worst possible scenario or outcome and make it bigger and more emotional than it needs to be, then label it as awful or terrible, making the event more pervasive than it needs to be. It spreads the distortion around to the rest of your life, so you imagine that everything is awful. This lie stops you from using your creative problem solving skills and reinforces whiny, complaining, victim behaviour. Break this lie by digging for the structure of the problem rather than getting caught up in the story or content. How is this problem similar to others that you have encountered? What are you not noticing about this? Where in your life are things going well?

10. Should-ing & Must-erbating

This lie is when you use demanding words like “should”, “must” or “have to” to pressure yourself or others to conform to some rules in your mind. Obviously this limits your choices, and creates a feeling of enforced duty and pressure. Break this lie by testing the rules that you are attempting to enforce. Ask: Why? Who says? What is the rule? Is there another way? Change your language to substitute must, need, should to want, like to, or prefer.

11. Filtering

This distortion causes you to focus or zoom in on one small aspect or thing to the exclusion of all others. It creates tunnel vision and limits your possibilities and choice. Overcome this distortion by imagining zooming out with your perspective of the event. Imagine being a fly on the wall, or put yourself in the other persons shoes, to get a different perspective.

12. Can’t-ing or Taboo-ing

This is a self-imposed rule that obviously limits your possibilities. Using this word on yourself and others, imagining there is some kind of constraint, law or rule that prevents you or others from doing something. This limits your ideas of what’s possible, stunts your potential and stops your ability to dream and take risks. Break these “can’ts” by testing and questioning them. Ask: what stops you? Do you have permission to do this? Is it possible physically to do this? What stops you? Is it a psychological or physical reason? If you could do it, what would it look, sound and feel like?


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13. Discounting and Perfectionism

This distortion causes you to reject or discount your successes, options or solutions. you’ll notice it when you say things like: “That wasn’t good enough”, “It could have been better”, “That doesn’t matter”. This stops you from celebrating the small successes and milestones along the way and prevents you from building momentum from the good feelings of success, this distortion holds up a mirror of unattainable perfection and leaves you feeling lousy and inadequate. Break this down by focussing on celebrating small wins and successes. Ask yourself: How does this count? What’s good about this? How can I value this? Do I have permission to make mistakes and learn along the way?  How can I re-inforce and celebrate this?

14. Identifying

This distortion is when you treat two different things as if they are one and the same. Identifying one thing as another. “He IS….” She IS…” This confuses things and limits your self-definition. Often this distortion will be combined with discounting, as in “He is JUST…..”, “I am just a….” Challenge this by remembering that you and everyone else are more than any of your traits, roles or many identities. You can break this identification by using word that actually describe what the person is doing, separating the behaviour from the person.

Common Mixed Distortions.

Often these distortions will pile on top of each other to create internal lies that bind us just like prison bars, preventing us from seeing the many possibilities and potentials within ourselves and others. Here are some limiting beliefs and the distortions they contain…

  • “I am just a mother, I can’t do that.”
    – Discounting + Identifying + Can’t-ing
  • “He’s always been an asshole. He’ll never be any different.”
    – Labeling + Discounting + All or Nothing
  • “Ever since you said that to me  my life has been a mess. Now I’ll never get anywhere”
    – Blaming + Awfulizing + Prophesying
  • “I’m not a runner, so I’ll never lose weight”
    – Identifying + Discounting + Can’t-ing + All or Nothing.

Argue back and break the LIES!!

  1. Write down all the distortions and negative beliefs and outright lies that you tell yourself or others on a regular basis.
  2. Pick one lie that really holds you back
  3. Go through the list and name all the distortions within your sentences.
  4. Then question the belief using the tips for each distortion until it unravels and falls apart.
  5. Repeat for the rest!

Join the conversation…

What are the lies you have been telling yourself that limit and prevent your potential?

What have you gotten out of breaking down the internal lies and giving yourself the power to argue back with the negative voice?

Reference: The information from this post is sourced from the Meta-Coach Certification Training Manuals, to find out more about Meta-Coaching go to:



Comments (3)

  1. Thanks Kylie, you’ve nailed it again! Point 13 resonated with me and “this distortion holds up a mirror of unattainable perfection” in particular. I’m only just learning to be proud of my achievements and where I’m at instead of it not being enough.

    • Thanks Heather! Yes wonderful. I’m so glad to hear that you’re being proud of, and “counting” your achievements!!

  2. Pingback: Mastering the Cognitive Distortions and Lies we tell ourselves | My Mind Coach

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