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Do you remember the children’s story The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen? It tells the tale of a duckling who was laughed at and rejected because he was different from the others. Then one day, the ugly duckling meets beautiful swans swimming on a lake. It is then that he discovers his real identity, seeing his own reflection in the water. He discovered he was a beautiful swan, and he had never been an ugly duckling after all.
Let the importance of that last sentence really sink in…”he had never been an ugly duckling after all.” He had lived his life believing a lie that brought him much sadness and confusion, yet he didn’t know any differently until that moment when he was confronted with the truth. How many times have we been like that little swan--believing a lie, making life decisions according to a lie, interacting with the world behind the mask of a lie--only to find out later that we could have saved ourselves from heartache if we had confronted the lie and been living in the truth all along?
The fairly tale “lie” was easy to spot—a swan believed he was a duck. In our real world, the lies which we tell ourselves may not be as obvious, but they are still very real and can have a strong impact on our happiness and self-esteem if we believe them. Look at these lies that we may believe about ourselves. Do any of them sound (or feel) familiar to you?
“I must look perfect in order to feel good about myself.”
“Performance equals worth…what I do is who I am.”
“I need to please everyone in my life. I need others’ approval to feel valuable.”
“I’m a hopeless case.”
Each of these lies places an emotional burden on us when we believe them. The lies we tell ourselves muddy up our minds and keep us from contentment and peace. In his book The Lies We Believe, Dr. Chris Thurman, Ph.D. made this important observation: “There is a direct, inescapable connection between our self-esteem and whether or not we are dedicated to truth. If dedication to truth characterizes our way of living, we develop stable positive feelings of worth. The moment we wrap our lives around lies, genuine feelings of self-worth are virtually impossible.” Understanding that connection between self-honesty and self-esteem shows the importance of examining our belief systems and confronting the lies that have taken hold without us even noticing.
Of course, there are times in life when we are already aware of the lies we believe, yet we choose to believe them to escape the pain of the truth in a particular situation. However, it does not matter why we “wrap” our lives around a lie—the result will still be the same: we make it virtually impossible to develop feelings of positive self-worth. That means that facing the truth, no matter how painful or difficult it is, will ultimately bring us more healing than allowing ourselves to live in and act according to a lie.
So, how do you tend to think about yourself? What messages about yourself do you hold on to? Have you fallen into the traps and believed the lies about yourself? If so, do the tough work you need to do so that you may break free from those traps. You are welcome to contact me to let me know the lies you identify and how you are replacing those lies with the truth. You can reach me at 866-390-5100. Just like the young swan in the fairy tale, we need to see a true reflection of who we are, untainted by the lies. It is time to tell ourselves the truth.
By JuLynn Ravenscraft, M.C.
Follow Up Coordinator at Remuda Ranch