I started the Take Action Challenge at the beginning of May to inspire people to recommit to their dreams before 2007 is half-over. (It’s easy to get five months into the year and forget that you ever had goals or dreams when the year began.)

This Take-Action series has sparked several emails from readers. Here’s an excerpt of one I received last week:

I now keep hitting a BIG BRICK WALL around trying to make some key life decisions. I want to take action BUT I can’t decide on what I want to do. I feel stuck, lost and a little scared. I keep falling down on the decision making side, which leads me to inactivity (my current approach is to bury my head in the sand!!). I don’t think I know what to do. I have no idea how to reach a decision.

Okay, let’s have a show of hands…

Who among us has said this very thing – or some variety of it – to her/himself?

And – here’s the kicker – who among us has been lying when we said it?

I hope everyone’s hand stayed up. I know mine did.

Of course no one intentionally tries to lie to him/herself. What we’re actually doing is stuffing our fear, or pretending that we’re not responsible for our own lives, or avoiding the inevitable.

And if you’re scared to take any steps toward (or away from) something, or if you want to stay stuck in the minutiae of something you don’t really want so you don’t have to deal with the discomfort of what you do really want — then lying to yourself works wonders.

Lying also works wonders if you want your friends to back off. You can say, “Oh, I’m so stuck!” And your friend will say, “You poor thing. It must be awful to be so stuck!” Then you will both spend hours on the phone trying to fix your feelings. Rarely will your friend say, “You lying sack of floof! You’re not stuck! You know exactly what you want!” (If you do have a friend who says that, consider yourself lucky. This is someone who wants your growth more than she wants your adoration.)

In his book, The Attractor Factor, Joe Vitale has this to say:

If you are one of the few who say you don’t know what you want, you are lying to yourself. Somewhere inside of you – right below what you are willing to admit – are your desires. You simply haven’t spoken them. Dr. Robert Anthony told me, “Everyone knows what they want. They are simply afraid to admit it. Once they admit it, they have to own up to the fact that they don’t have it. They have to begin to take action to get what they want. Or they have to make excuses for not trying. Both may be uncomfortable. To stay safe, people lie.

If you are lying to yourself, the above quote will garner one of two reactions. Either you will cringe in shame and think, “Ohmigod, is it that transparent?” Or you will get defensive and go find another blog where people aren’t so mean. “That [insert expletive]! I’m not lying to myself! I’m stuck! She doesn’t know how hard it is to be this stuck!”

But here’s the thing: I do know. In fact, if you had read this quote to me at any of the times I’ve been stuck, I would’ve denied it or made more excuses. I’ve wasted hours, days and weeks making bargains with myself, looking to find the secret formula, or something to take away the fear. And really, it was about admitting what I wanted – even as the doubts and the “you can’t say that’s” took over the podium.

When you let yourself get quiet and when you actually honor yourself enough to allow yourself to have preferences and desires, then you always know what you want. You’ll hear it clearly. Maybe it will take some time to take action. But that’s okay. Just stop telling yourself you don’t know what you want.

Stop lying to yourself.

22 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • rhiannon

    Christine- Thanks for the response! I forgot the name of this blog entry, and just now thought to do a google search in christinekane.com with my name as the keyword.

    I agree that it’s okay to want to do different things, and to take the time to do as many of them as possible.

    Now to figure out where to start!

  • Tigerlily

    I found your site Christine Kane’s Blog –- and your wonderful article “Lying Works Wonders”

    I decided to choose it as one of my five “tagged” articles for my submission to the High Vibe Game, you will find it at my blog: http://allowingaperfectbody.com/2007/05/29/five-ways-i-raise-my-vibe–the-high-vibe-game.aspx.

    Here is the links to the High Vibe Game info if you want to take part: http://www.optimistlab.com/

    Great site and great article!

    Blessings,
    Tigerlily

  • Christine Kane

    hi karen, thanks for the link to your blog, and for sharing your experience!

    thanks colleen! if you read the post called “how to get anything done” it might help with the times when that feeling makes everything seem out of reach or too big. a few small action steps will really help to get you going no matter what your going towards!

  • Christine Kane

    (okay – I’m dividing up my comments here cuz I have to catch up in small doses!)

    Lisa – thanks for your thoughts. when i met you at sobcon, i got the sense that you are a great coach – and that you take that grounded in-your-face-but-still- compassionate approach to coaching. and you’re right – this comment really should be a post. it’s lovely in its images!

    chickpea – the next post in this series is called “what to do when you don’t know what to do.” i’m hoping it will help. my sense is that you’re not alone – but at least you walked away from what you didn’t want. that’s step one. now you just have to move on to step two!

  • Christine Kane

    hello rhiannon – hmmm, there’s so much in what you wrote that i want to respond to, and i don’t know where to even begin. i’ll try to address it in a future post. i think it’s absolutely GREAT to pursue many things, to have many different songs going at once, to want to have a restaurant and hang out in the woods. AND, i do know that at some point, I have to pick one of those songs and finish it. that’s the simple truth. one path for a few years (in MY world) is better than lots of paths never taken. (my friend rebecca trained to be a personal chef – then she became one and lived in manhattan with a crazy rich family. now she runs an upscale hair salon in asheville and she does my hair. (she gets credit on my DVD for my hair and make-up!) she says she’ll eventually leave that and become a mid-wife. each thing she has done, she has committed to completely and fully. but she did have to choose one thing and go for it. you’re right about being young and having time. AND you’ll be surprised at how fast 10 years will fly by. (also – i recommend getting the book “the wisdom of the enneagram” and reading the chapter on the number 7. you might be a seven. if you are, then you have to allow yourself even more space and kindness about this stuff! sevens LOVE lots of different things!)

  • Colleen

    Hi Christine,

    You’ve become one of those small but important things that sparks a little something-something into my day. So thank you.

    As for this post, I’m happy to say that I’ve officially stopped lying to myself recently.

    Having put an end to that, I’ve dived into the process of sitting with what I want and knowing – sometimes forcing myself to believe! – that the way to get there from here WILL show itself. Some days this is much harder than others, as what I want seems so far out of reach and I have no idea what the steps from here to there look like.

    But I’m still sitting and believing that what I need will show up if I keep seeing myself already there and communicating that vision with the world at large! 🙂

  • karenlim

    Christine

    Wow, such a wonderful and powerful post you have made.
    Yes, absolutely true.

    We all know what do we want but sometimes we deny ourselves our feelings on what we want because we thought we did not have the choice to choose.

    This is what it happened to me and my ex-job until I fully acknowledged that I have right to feel happy again.

    I am happy to share my story in return for an insipiration for anyone out there who feels they are stuck in their job:
    http://secretofunlimitedprosperity.com/date/2007/05/12/

    Remember, we all have the power to make a choice in life.
    When we acknowledge this power, we will be able to acknowledge what exactly we want in our life too!

    Cheers
    Karen

  • Chickpea

    Christine,

    I’m intrigued by this post.

    I left my safe, in many ways enviable, job in 2005. I knew it wasn’t right for me and it was swamping my life, so I handed in my notice with no real plans, only the hope that with a little time and space, inspiration would hit me.

    Two years on, I’m none the wiser (and a good deal poorer financially). I really don’t know what I want to do. I don’t feel that I’m afraid. I have nothing to lose going all out for anything. I just can’t hit on something to go all out for. If you have any suggestions, I’d be sooooo happy to hear them.

    Love your blog!

  • Lisa Gates

    Christine, I am nearly clapping with yahoo woots!
    As a coach myself (I like to say completion catalyst), I am grateful for the NO BS appreciation you have for your work with your coach, and the rigorous, take no prisoners challenge you’ve offered your readers. Really stunning.

    What hit me most is Rhiannon’s comment–trying to decide what to do. Just the word decide, if you dissect it, means to “cut off.” Our fear in deciding is that we will cut off some other opportunity or path if we decide on one thing or another. But there is an expansive, beautiful grace that happens when we choose a particular direction and commit to it, and I would say it has more to do with physics, than woo woo granola.

    When we prune a tree — decide for it, if you will — our cut indicates a possible direction for next growth, and next growth and next growth. All along the way, the tree heals its original pruning, gathers strength and energy, and grows in the direction indicated by the cut. It’s still branching and blooming and leafing and rooting and growing in every other direction, but the pruned spot has a specific focus and intent for a while.

    So, I say choose, young 26 year old! And everything, absolutely everything, will open up and say, “come get me!”

    I think I should have written a post…

  • Rhiannon

    I’ve been thinking about this kind of thing a LOT recently. Right down to what you said about “what would i do if success were guaranteed and i had 100 million dollars?”

    My problem is not so much that I lie to myself about not know what I want to do, but rather that there are so MANY things that I want to do. I want to open a restaurant, but only serve the kind of food I like. I want to hike more, I want to camp more, I want to plant a wonderful vegetable and herb garden. I want to get a dog and take him on hikes and camping and out into the garden. I want a job that makes a difference in people’s lives in a very grass-roots way. I want to go back to school and get my master’s in I-don’t-even-know-what. I want to live in Asheville again.

    Where the fear comes in is in the getting there. It can be difficult to reconcile wants and fears. Add that to my want list: I want my fears and my wants to get along and be friends. But I think for a lot of us it’s not knowing where to start. Waiting longer and longer to start, which makes us think more and more “I’ve just waited too long” or on the flip side, “I’m only 26 years old, I have all the time in the world to plant a garden.”

    A good friend went to a meeting at work where they talked about a “job” vs a “calling.” That afternoon she applied for AmeriCorps, and now, a year later, she’s just gotten her assignment in the Peace Corps.

    I think that to me part of the fun is in the daydreaming and planning. I have an extensive list of what I’d do if I had a billion dollars. But for now I’ll go curl up with the cat and the husband and delude myself a little while longer.

  • Christine Kane

    hi elaine! yes, i used to not book gigs cuz i’d say to myself – “I just need to write one more song first…” I get that “one more thing” syndrome! good for you for the recognition. we’re all cheering for you!

    hi marina – and you’re welcome. i know you’ll find a great job/career/ or whatever it is you want! thanks for the note!

  • Marina

    Thanks Christine! This was exactly the kick in the pants that I needed today. I had been thinking that I need a job that matches my abilities and (because of the law of attraction?) people and resources came into my life that helped me get a great resume, but now that I have it I haven’t done anything with it.

    I have the tools I need but lacked the courage to take the next step. I lied to myself that delaying sending out the resume was not a problem, but now I see that I need to be taking steps towards my dreams, especially now that I am getting closer and closer to it.

    Thanks for your inspiring words.

  • Elaine

    “Ohmygod!!” It is THAT transparent!!!…I’ve been lying to myself. I’m going back to my journal to admit what I really want (you’re right… I do know.

    I have been bargaining with myself lately and using the excuse that ‘I need to finish my masters dissertation first’ – to bury my own head in the sand…(This has lasted for the last year and a half!!!) BUT I nolonger have this as an excuse as it’s virtually finished…(found out today – hurrah!!) Mmm… time to get quiet and honour myself enough to be able to hear that clarity. Thank you for this and for caring about growth.

  • Christine Kane

    colin- it seems that the issue you have is the “selling five billion copies.” it’s really something to look at inside of US when we feel like success equates with untruth. i.e. – “the only way something could sell well was if it was trash or not true – or worse, trying to rip people off!” but wouldn’t that imply, then, that you believe in victims after all? i think that the secret is a lovely beginning point – and will probably do a great deal to wake lots of people up. and of course it’s not a secret. it was based on a book by a guy named charles haanel. (which is a fabulous book by the way) but marketing ideas are just that: marketing ideas. there’s lots of good stuff contained in there anyway. and, like you said — as long as you are growing! (rat’s ass? hmmmm…is that any way for a man of the cloth to talk? :-))

  • Colin

    I know what you’re saying, Christine, and I always loved you as a person, train wreck or not. I am just suspicious of anything that sells 5 billion copies and calls itself “secret”. The irony is, those who seek growth in order to integrate themselves and develop deeper relationships with others SEEM to alienate themselves with blind adherence to the latest and greatest “25 secrets to empowerment” to the point where critical thought is lost to marketing prowess, book sales, and very, very expensive programs. Now, having said all that, I still read your blog EVERY DAY, and I will curtail my taking up space in this format for argument, and I don’t give a rat’s ass what you do (within reason) as long as you are growing. I’m ALWAYS very proud of you!

  • Christine Kane

    hey deb – thanks!

  • Christine Kane

    susanne, good morning! yes, that’s the challenge. to call yourself out in the middle of an attack of lying to you. have you ever asked yourself questions like, “what would i do if success were guaranteed and i had 100 million dollars?” (my answer is “sleep” a lot of the time – and so i do!) somewhere along the way, many of us bought the story that says, “you can’t have that.” and there’s just no use in holding onto that story!

    well, joy, you just wrote a fantastic blog! i love what you say here. and of course, it’s true. it’s easy to be a sad powerless victim! and i myself have been guilty of ‘using others to make you feel better’… my coach constantly challenged me to cut that out! thanks for your words.

    hey colin – i will disagree with you on one count here – (just cuz i know you relish debates!) most of the self-help that i read (rather, personal development) is more empowering now than ever. even the idea of “law of attraction” – though it’s criticized quite a bit – is the most empowering non-victim work i’ve ever had to do. also – life coaching, the secret and all of its authors — this is some deep “get over yourself!” stuff. it’s changed my whole life in the past five years. (and i believe you were at my very very first gig ever – so you know what a train wreck i could be!)

  • Deb

    Just realized I logged out last night and forgot to let you know I liked to a couple of your posts that added perspective to my point. Thanks for great content, and great encouragement.

  • Colin

    This particular post about lying socks an almost pathological victimology right in the nose! I’m not a big “self-help” fan because of the sheer number of chronic victims (it’s fashionable to be “broken”) and “the world owes me happiness” attitudes (there….said it). So this post by Christine really gets to the heart of the matter for me with an unadorned insight , blessedly deviod of self-help jargon.

  • JoyGardner

    Self-delusion is a very powerful “drug”. Like an IV of nonchalance, apathy or laziness to avoid personal responsibility, it is one we continually re-inject with, to avoid the ‘higher costs’ of living responsibly, attentively and fully. Making promises you never intended to keep for the sake of mildly impressive words, using others to make you ‘feel’ better instead of really ‘getting’ better, and shaping one’s life around fears instead of fortitude is like a strong undertow that in my observation is rewarded a lot in our culture. If we can bellyache a good victim-status, we can create a little safe distance and continue to slouch in our chairs, so to speak. Yep, I’m defo an advocate of making the effort, spending the energy, and climbing out of our self-delusion into the light of day. It’s the only day we have…

  • Susanne

    Yes. Excellent. Only the problem seems to be that we can’t see this when we’re in the middle of it. Maybe I have to write this on yet another post-it note: “You always know what you want.”

    Quite a good strategy for me has been to think, “If I could have anything I wanted right now, what would it be?” And to see that I don’t have to know how to get what I want this instant. Once I know I can take my time to figure it out.

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