A few years ago, early in my healing journey, I read what is now one of my favorite books, titled, “Peace from Broken Pieces: How to get through what you’re going through” by my auntie Iyanla Vanzant. In this book she tells the readers that we all possess this “personal lie'” that we tell ourselves. She says that in the modern world, our personal lie is disguised as our “core belief.” This belief is a story that we tell ourselves about who we are and what we do or do not deserve in life. This personal lie is a function of all the broken pieces of your puzzle–all of the elements of your history, all of your experiences, all that you have been taught about yourself merging with all that you have made up about yourself. She shares that her personal lie, her foundational belief, was that she wasn’t good enough. As a result, nothing that she did was ever good enough. At each level of elevation, each level of success, she was still searching for the validation that somehow her efforts would be good enough to make her feel like she was good enough.
Can any of you connect with this? I remember weeping when I first read this book. It was the first time that I had read on paper the exact emotions that I was always experiencing. It was her book that truly catapulted me into beginning my own manuscript. But, here’s why I am bringing this up today. Based on the definition that I just gave you, what personal lies are you telling yourself and carrying around with you? If we get quiet enough, it will come to our hearts almost immediately.
So what is your personal lie? Do you think that your looks define you? Do you believe that you’ll never be good enough for anyone? Maybe that you’ll always be single? Do you think someone’s death was your fault? Maybe you think you’ll never find true happiness? Perhaps you believe obesity runs in your family and you’ll just always be that way?
My personal lie is much like Iyanla’s…Deep down I wonder not only if I will ever be good enough, but I also wonder if my efforts will ever get me to the places that I pray about. This belief at different times has caused me to have crippling anxiety to the point of being fearful to make decisions, always thinking that the choices will take me further from my destination. This belief at times has caused me to walk into rooms with my head down, believing that everyone around me was better than me, more advanced than me and would ultimately be more successful than me. Here’s the problem with the “personal lie” that we tell ourselves along with the other ones that we add to the pot. These lies prevent us from making the necessary progress to grow and to heal. With these lies screaming at us constantly, we can’t hear the voice of God telling us that in HIM we have a heritage OR that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. With these lies, we can’t press forward towards the mark, trusting and believing in the gifts and talents inside of us. These lies often keep us bound in fear that things will always be the way that they are (which is a lie -if you’re willing to do the work).
It is impossible to completely sum up everything that Iyanla shares with the readers, you have to read the book (you won’t regret it) but here’s how I have applied this to my life and my experiences. Despite some successes in some areas of my life, when the going gets tough, I usually resort back to my personal lie of my efforts not having been good enough or whatever is happening being a sign that things will always be the way that they are now.
Here are the 3 ways that I learned to combat the lies that I had told myself for so long:
Focus on the big picture – As I focus on my finances, sometimes I feel like I’m spinning on a wheel and there’s a always another cycle of bills/debt to pay. My personal lie in this area is that I’ll never make enough to be stable. Here’s how my life infiltrates what I do-when I paid my rent on time all year and was excited about it, when the other creditors started calling, I immediately began to feel like it wasn’t good enough. So while there may have been 10 areas I was working on in my finances, the 1 that was in control of made it one less problem. By focusing on the fact that I was still in debt, it took away the joy from taking baby steps. Baby steps matter!
Get Clear about who you are – If you don’t know who you are, then you will keep allowing your mind, your patterns, and your experiences to tell you. Here’s what this means–As long as I allow my past (and the things I named above) to tell me that i am stuck, without purpose, a mistake, destined for failure and whatever else then I will behave as such. If I allow the lie that I will struggle forever to dominate my thoughts daily, then I will see every experience as a struggle rather than as a needed step to get to where I want to be. When you set your vision on the fact that GREATNESS is within you, then you will begin to believe that the trials are meant to strengthen you, NOT destroy you. Let’s get clear about being victorious and designed for the lives we have.
Change the narrative that you use on yourself– It took me a long time to acknowledge that there were just parts of me that were nothing but debris. It took a moment for me to acknowledge that I was the source of MANY of my issues. In this realization I had to learn to change the narrative that I was telling myself. There was time that I was a horrible friend. I just didn’t know how to be supportive, I didn’t know how to connect with friends, I didn’t know how to be happy for them and I didn’t know how to have a healthy disagreement without being gossipy and backbiting. Instead of saying, “You’re so stupid, you’ve messed everything up and you’ll never have good friends.” I had to learn how to change the way I spoke to myself and change the story that I told myself. Now I know to say , ” Well, Julian you have to learn how to be the friend that you want to have. You have to learn how to exhibit the characteristics that you want to have in a friend. ” This narrative leaves way more room for growth and healing than talking to myself the way I used to.
To live a life of fullness and joy like God intended for us, we must learn that there is internal work for us to do. For the ones of us, who missed many things growing up, there is a lot of work that is needed to rebuild our lives in healthier ways. It is hard, but not impossible. I just want to encourage you to continue doing the work that it takes to be healthy, happy and WHOLE.