I have a teenage son. <pause for condolences and appreciative sighs> Thank you for that. The Boy is a good kid, (mostly) kind, funny, smart, and active. He’s also a huge damn liar. <gasp – what??? A teenage boy who isn’t entirely honest with his parents??? I am shocked!>
Every school year runs the same course – he starts out strong, the teachers love him, grades are all A’s. Second quarter the shine starts to wear off, he loses focus and it gets a little bumpy. Third quarter he picks up the pace a little, and fourth quarter is a stagger to the finish line. Spring fever takes over, distractions increase – he figures the die is set for the year and starts to phone it in.
Recently he had some missing in-class assignments in science; he told us he had forgotten to put his name on them but found them in the “no name” bin and took care of that. Today we got a message from another teacher; I emailed the science teacher on a whim and asked about the assignments. The response? They were still missing, and the teacher doesn’t have a no name bin.
Lying, like any other decision, has consequences in our household. The Boy will not enjoy those consequences, but it won’t change behavior any time soon. He was focused on other things, so he said whatever he thought would get the situation tabled and allow him to focus on those “more important” things. It was a lie of convenience; whatever he wanted to do at the time was more valuable to him than the fear of the potential punishment.
Why Would You Lie To Yourself?
Here’s the thing – we all lie to ourselves to postpone the “punishment”. I hold The Boy accountable; that’s my job as a father. What is my job as an adult? Do I hold myself accountable? Am I fully present when I’m with my family? Do I give the best effort I can each day at work? Are my workouts 100% of what I can do that day – or do I phone it in some days?
I don’t believe that we can be our absolute best self every single day – that’s an unrealistic view of life. We can, however, give the best we have THAT DAY. If I am not doing that, I’m selling myself short. We all have our excuses, of course. Those excuses are just ways we rationalize our internal (and external) lies. As my friend says, “We are all knee deep in something. Either you want it or you don’t. Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has them and they all stink!!”
TL:DR – If You’re Going to Commit, then Commit!
“I would have worked out today but it was raining.” Oh, really? Find a treadmill, do calisthenics in your living room, do something. “There’s not enough time for me to get my work done.” Yet there’s plenty of time for you to be on social media… “I would eat better, but I don’t have time.” Meal prep in advance, keep quick and easy healthy food on hand. I got a million of them!
There is not an inherent right or wrong here; I want to be clear about that. It is not right to exercise, or not exercise. It is not right to make one choice or another. As long as you are not making up excuses to cover yourself, you are doing what you think is best for you today. However, when you say you are going to finish the project, then find “reasons” to do other things? You are lying to yourself (and your coworkers). When you show up for the test unprepared, but it’s not your fault because… whatever… you get the point.
Look, it’s not always easy. I certainly make my share of excuses. I’m working on it, trying to be better. Checking your form covers a lot of areas – running, posture, work ethic, honesty. Lying to ourselves is often easier than facing the harsh truth and working on our problem areas. Blaming others and not taking responsibility feels better in the short term. What it doesn’t do is fix the problem!
Take a little time to check your form. If you aren’t being truthful with yourself or others, make the changes you need. Others will notice a difference – and so will you!
Photo by Andrew Butler on Unsplash