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I’ve been (slowly) reading the book Laugh It Up! by Candace Payne. It’s an inspiring story of her life and the amazing lessons she shares with her readers. There’s a chapter about the lies she’s always told herself and how she’s turned some of them around.

I thought about the lies I’ve told myself through the years. I’m not an athlete. I’m not pretty. I can’t sing. I can’t write very well. I don’t fit in. Everyone does things better than me so I have nothing of value to add to anything or anyone. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. How do I know these are lies? Because they are attitudes toward things that I didn’t try hard enough to do. And where did these things come from? Who told me I’m not an athlete, or that I can’t sing, or that I don’t fit in? No one. They’re things I told myself.

What lies have you told yourself? Make a list. Where did you get the idea that you were none of those things? Did someone tell you that? Each item might be discredited by your friends if you asked them. The point is that telling yourself negative things gives you an excuse not to try to do better. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Dumb excuses not to even try. It’s the lazy way out, and the worst thing we can do.

So how do we change this negative talk to ourselves? It’s time to take a fresh look at your list. Take my first one for example. I’m not an athlete. When I was in high school, there were no girls sports. As far as athletics were concerned, girls could be cheerleaders or be in pep club. There were no girls teams for anything other than in PE classes. I might have been athletic if I’d been encouraged to and had the opportunity. Who knows? I might have been really good at a sport. In my 50s, I rode a bicycle 114 miles over 3 days. I think that’s pretty athletic. To declare that I’m not an athlete is a lie because no one knows for sure.

And the rest of your list? Look at it closely. Are there things you say you can’t do because you didn’t try or didn’t know how to start? That doesn’t mean you can’t. Instead of saying I’m not an artist, take a class or two and learn something. Even if your pictures won’t ever be hung in a museum or even someone’s home doesn’t mean you’re not an artist. It means you have your own style of painting or drawing, and you choose to focus your strengths elsewhere. Instead of saying you’re not an artist, you can say art isn’t one of your best talents. You’ve turned the negative into something that helps you find your strengths. That reshapes your attitude toward yourself, and attitude is what success is about.

As Candace says in her book, “Quit should-ing yourself.” Get to work on that list and remove the lies. Discover yourself, rewrite the list to be more positive, and find where your strengths lie.

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