Hello. It’s me.
Sorry, but I couldn’t resist not starting with that intro. It’s been a while since I’ve offered my voice to the Wise Guise. Did you miss me? I’m sure you did. “I missed you like I miss a rock in my shoe,” as my grandmother once said. Your enthusiasm for my return is appreciated.
I suppose I should start by being yet another one of the millions of voices to heap praise on Adele for her new album, and indeed I will. But it’s not for the reason you think. I, like most of you, eagerly went to iTunes Friday morning and clicked “complete my album” to add the rest of the tracks from her latest release to my already purchased “Hello.”
And I sat on the drive to work. And I listened. And I got to work. And I discussed how great it was with everyone around me who were talking about how great it was. I left work. I began my drive home. And I felt – what is the word – guilty.
Because truth be told, while I thought “25” was on many levels a solid piece of work, it was far from the “best album of all time” status most were trumpeting it to be. It was fine. Some of the songs were perfectly lovely. The voice – as always – was magnificent. But I would be lying if I didn’t say the whole thing felt a little been there, done that.
I was lying. Yes, I was lying to others, but, more importantly, I was lying to myself. In my fever of anticipation for the new album, I was convincing myself this was just as magnificent as I expected it to me. After giving it a listen, I realized it wasn’t that way. I still lied to myself, and, in turn, it made me lie to others around me. It reminded me of what a friend of mine said after seeing a movie he had been building up for months he turned out to be less than enthused by: “I forced myself to like it!” True words, for sure.
One of the great lessons we learn in life is not to lie to others. It damages and potentially eliminates trust between individuals, and that can lead to broken relationships, goals, and sadly even lives. There’s perhaps an even greater lesson we fail to communicate, though. Often the worst lying we do in our lives is to ourselves.
Those lies come when, as I did with Adele’s album, we want things to represent the pretty picture we’ve created in our minds of not how things are, but how they should be. And they are more deadly than the lies we tell to others. After all, in most situations with others, you eventually have to come clean or they do. When the companion you’re lying to is your own head, the prospect of a confession dims considerably. The lie can continue and persist uninterrupted for years or perhaps even your entire life.
Lying to yourself about the latest film or album you thought was going to be great can seem fairly insignificant and perhaps it is. However, it does set a tone for lying to yourself on much more important topics in your personal and professional life.
How many of us have made the all-too-horrid mistake of lying to ourselves that our friendship with someone or love life with another is stronger than it is? I was once in a relationship where I rarely got contacted. Well, rarely that is, unless there was some type of trouble or a life accomplishment to be bragged about. I convinced myself it was “going so well.” I now find myself eagerly waiting for the invention of a time machine where I can go back and slap Alex 1.0 silly. There was nothing there. Nothing but lying to myself, obviously.
I had a friendship recently I convinced myself was absolutely needed and even began referring to another as one of my “best friends.” Yet, as time went on, I realized if the topics of communication between us were grounds for a best friendship, “best friends” were pretty lousy. As our distance grew and the only time I got contacted was when something was needed or money was tight, I still lied to myself about what a great friendship it was and how generous I was. It was only after I realized I was about to dive in too deep in my goal of helping another I finally came to my senses.
And of course, professionally, I’ve had those moments, too. There are moments when you convince yourself everything is going great, and you’ll even have your employer and fellow employees commending you. Yet, behind the scenes, you know your trailing behind in some departments, and it’s going to take time to catch up. The only way to catch up is by admitting to yourself everything is not fine. Unfortunately, most never do.
This time of year we give thanks for the many blessings in our life, and we start thinking of goals for the coming 12 months. I urge you to do something that will change your life, and it doesn’t involve going to a sporting goods store and buying those set of weights you’ll never use.
Think about the areas in your life – personally and professionally – in which you could be lying to yourself. Be honest with yourself and ask, “What’s weighing me down that I convince myself isn’t and how do I change that?” The process is painful at many times, but I think it will ultimately bring you to the place you want to be.
Remember after confessing to yourself to forgive yourself, as we’d want anyone doing to us if we admitted we had lied. Then, begin the healing process. You’ll be surprised how embracing your personal truth will lead to greater gains down the road.