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The nine lies we tell ourselves that keep us from being happy

Aug. 3, 2014 at 12:52 PM ET

It’s been estimated that thousands of thoughts run through our minds each day—within minutes, we can go from thinking about the present, the past and the future to fleeting images of food, a former co-worker or a favorite celebrity.

While some may seem irrelevant or even trivial, all of your thoughts play a role in shaping our views and opinions of ourselves and the world. That's why positivity is so important. 

Here, we ask four inspirational leaders to reveal the nine untruthful thoughts most of us tell ourselves and give us ways to shift our feelings, outlook and experiences.

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Are your own thoughts keeping you from feeling happy?

“The beliefs we pick over the years tend to come from our family members, our friends, our classrooms and our society,” states Gabrielle Bernstein, the New York Times best-selling author of "Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose." “And while it’s not necessarily our fault for that we have these false or limiting beliefs, it is our responsibility to change them.” Here's how:

The Lie: “There’s not enough...”

Why the lie: “I hear this one far too enough—there’s not enough to go around, there’s not enough money,” says Bernstein. She said this statement has been particularly common over the last few years since people have been focused on the recession and stressed about financial insecurity. “But even when the economy is sailing, we can feel trapped and panicked by our thought patterns around money.”

Change it to:“I’m open to receiving unique opportunities in abundance.”

Bernstein says the words in this revised statement will allow your mind to perceive your situation differently. For example, instead of scouring job listings and griping about how the economy hasn't bounced back yet, tap your former colleagues, keep an eye out on Facebook posts or chat with different people about what kind of job you're looking for. You never know who might have a connection. “Energy is currency,” she explains. “When your energy has an essence of abundance, you greatly increase your capacity to receive more money-making opportunities.”

The Lie: “I don’t know what to do.”

Why the lie: Mike Dooley, author of "Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic," explains that many people spend much of their time and energy worrying about how they’ll reach a certain goal—frazzling themselves to the point of quitting before even getting started.

Change it to:“I know what I want to be” or “I’m getting closer.”
“Of course you don’t know what to do—your brain’s too small!” he says. When it comes to achieving a goal, he says we have to define it by the end result (i.e. to be an author, to live abroad for one year). “Just like GPS guidance, you don’t know how you will arrive to your new destination, you just have to know what that destination is. Keep in mind that with a goal and some action, the guidance you need—whether it comes in the form of inspiration, confidence or a new best friend—will be provided.”

The Lie: “I’m not ready.”

Why the lie: Let’s face it—are we ever really ready to do something big? Change doesn't come from staying in your comfort zone, explains Kris Carr, author of "Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor." Most of our hesitation comes from the fear of being criticized, rejected or judged. “In fact, playing it safe cheats your potential and keeps you in limbo.”

Change it to: “I can take the first step.” 
Carr offers the example of being afraid to speak in public. “When you just think about taking the smallest possible step, one at a time—like writing and practicing the opening sentence—you will soon realize you can take another step, whether it scares you or not.” She adds that confidence should be thought of as a muscle. “The more you work it, the more you develop it.”

The Lie: “I won’t do it right.”

Why the lie: Hold everything…this saying is not exactly a lie, states Carr, yet she feels it can be better defined as a self-defeating phrase. “It’s true, you won’t do something right every time because there is no such thing as perfect,” she explains. “Perfection is beige, boring and quite frankly—exhausting!”

Change it to: “I’ll do my best.”

Carr says it’s important to embrace the fact that everything—your career, your health, your personal life—is a work in progress. “Rough drafts, first tries, and mistakes are always part of the path to greatness,” she says. “As soon as we forget ‘perfect,’ we take the pressure off ourselves to burst out of the gates with an award-winning performance.”

The Lie: “I should be fearless.”

Why the lie: “This is the bravado anthem of out-of-touch motivational speakers everywhere!” states Danielle LaPorte, author of "The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms." She believes that similar phrases like “Conquer fear” and “surpass your limits” fall under the lying category, as well—because they are not realistic. “Here's an update for your consciousness: Fearlessness is a myth!”

Change it to: “I respect my fear—and then I’ll put it in its place.”
According to LaPorte, fear is not only natural and inevitable, it's also useful. “It has something to tell you,” she explains. “When you pay closer attention to your fear to see what's driving it, then you take the ‘charge’ out of it. And with this kind of understanding and clarity, you can then choose to focus on more productive feelings, like enthusiasm and courage.”

The Lie: “I’m not as smart/talented/good-looking...”

Why the lie: Bernstein explains comparing ourselves to others creates animosity, resentment, jealousy and competition, all which add up to feeling an unconscious sense of lack. “This one will definitely take you down and mess with your energy in a lot of ways,” she says. And if you think you’re the only one with thoughts of self-doubt, think again. Earlier this year, Jennifer Lawrence was quoted by Britain’s "Hello!" magazine as saying, “I always feel like I'm pulling the wool over everyone's eyes about my acting. When I get good reviews I think 'Alright—got away with another one.'”

Change it to: “I honor my gifts and talents.”
Bernstein emphasizes that it’s important to believe you have a purpose and are on this earth to serve others. One way to do that is starting to taking note of your best qualities. “Bust out your notebook and make a list of all the ways you rock,” she says. “Don’t be shy, don’t even be humble—brag!” She suggests referring back to the list whenever you find yourself in doubt. “Remember that the world needs your greatness,” she adds.

The Lie: “I can’t find ‘the one’.”

Why the lie: “I can’t tell you how often I hear people complain about dating!” states Bernstein. She feels this lie is perpetuated by one of three main reasons—anger from past experiences, lack of clarity (not knowing the type of person you’re searching for) or for having what she refers to as the achieve-achieve-achieve mentality. “You might be a super productive go-getter at work, but it simply doesn't translate to the dating world.”

Change it to: “I will attract a partner with my authenticity and positivity.”
Bernstein suggests to focus (and even meditate) on this saying, along with how you want to feel in a romantic relationship, and this energy will eventually bring love to you. If you’re not feeling very positive or lovable, then start giving to others. “When you focus your attention on what you’re giving, then the energy you give off is loving and joyful,” she explains. “Give what you want to receive and feel your energy shift. Giving blasts open the doors to happiness—and receiving.”

The Lie: “The world is out to get me.”

Why the lie: After a few bad breakups, a couple of failed friendships and a number of chaotic work situations, you may feel as if you've come across more bad people than good in your life. This bitterness may lead you to the continuous act of judging others. “Though your judgments may offer your temporary relief, it never makes you feel better in the long run,” says Bernstein.  

Change it to: “There's a whole world to support me.”

Bernstein explains that in order to release prior resentments, it’s important to let go of the victim mentality. “It’s about taking a new approach and choosing to see the good in others,” explains Bernstein. “When we choose for peace, we’ll put down the boxing gloves, come out of hiding and throw down the F word—forgiveness.”

The Lie: “It’s in God’s [insert other higher force's] hands.”

Why the lie: Well, it’s not a total lie, says Dooley. “For those who believe in a higher power, we all play out our lives in the palm of a higher being’s hand, metaphorically, because we are all God’s (or the Universe’s) particles,” he explains. “However, thinking that a divine source decides everything robs us of the will to make commitments, to follow our heart, to discover how awesome life is and how powerful we are.”

Change it to: “Thank you for all that’s coming to me.”
“We live in a world with metaphysical principles at play that turn our thoughts, beliefs and expectations into the things and events we will eventually meet,” states Dooley. “So feeling gratitude ahead of time, followed by taking steps forward, is one of the fastest ways to get into the zone of receiving.”



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