You want to improve your life.
You wouldn’t be reading Lifehack if you didn’t.
But you might be shooting yourself in the foot if you believe any of these growth-stunting famous myths.
1. Life should be how you want it to be.
You have this idea in your head, a script, of how your life is supposed to be. But it’s not happening that way.
And you hate that.
That’s because you’ve bought into the myth that life should be how you want it to be rather than accepting life as it is.
There’s nothing wrong with goals and forward motion in your life.
But your life is happening now. Engage it, learn from it, experience it.
Not experiencing your life because it’s not how you want it is making you dumb.
2. Life is linear rather than a spiral.
This myth, which is rampant in our American society, says that we should always be progressing forward in an upward, straight line.
However, this doesn’t leave much room for the normal bad habits and problems that we struggle with from time to time.
You see, life is much more like a spiral than a straight line. We move forward but eventually return to the same spot where those struggles keep popping up.
Instead of getting down on yourself about them, remember that you have been moving forward, it’s just that it’s the time on your path when you need to work on those issues again.
You’re moving up and around at the same time.
3. We should be happy all the time.
At least, that’s what the Self-Improvement sections of bookstores would have you believe.
The reality is that happiness is a fleeting emotion just as all emotions are. The emotions that tend to be more constant are feelings of contentment and ease.
Happiness is great, but it’s not something we are going to experience all the time.
I wish you much happiness, but I also wish you wouldn’t put yourself under the pressure of thinking that something is wrong with you if you’re not happy. You’re just human.
4. Resisting something is the best way to overcome a crisis.
Not so much.
Although the natural response to a crisis or even a fairly routine problem is to resist it, that behavior only drains your energy and reduces your ability to problem-solve effectively.
The best approach is to accept, rather than resist, what is happening.
This doesn’t mean that you are giving up. It just means that you are being realistic about what is in front of you.
It means that you are working within the crisis rather than against it. This is like walking downstream to cross a river rather than walking upstream against the current.
Resisting is a very natural, human response, but it’s dumb.
Learning to accept the bad with the good in our lives is smart.
5. Being hard on yourself is the only way to get motivated.
For some reason, many of us will listen to that Inner Critic, that nasty voice in our heads, because we think it’s the only way that we’re going to get anything accomplished.
After all, if we weren’t hard on ourselves, how would we get anything done?
Perhaps we could try being nice. Not just to others, but to ourselves as well.
There are tons of motivational tips out there that focus on rewarding yourself rather than whipping yourself to accomplish goals.
Challenge the myth that your Inner Critic is right and try something new. And kinder.
You’ll be surprised at what a little kindness can do for you.
6. Self-compassion is for wimps.
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!
None of this namby-pamby self-compassion stuff! Don’t be a wimp!
Actually, research has shown that self-compassion isn’t wimpy.
Being kind and empathic to yourself results in a healthier, more productive life than being self-critical. And research also shows that self-compassion increases a stable sense of security and self-worth.
So next time you are being harsh with yourself, ask yourself if you would treat a friend that way.
It’s okay to treat yourself as you would your best friend.
7. You can get back to your old self after a crisis happens.
“I just want life to get back to the way it was.”
I hear this a lot when people are in the middle of grief or another kind of crisis.
But the truth is, you won’t be the same person you were before the crisis happened.
And that’s okay.
You may find that you are more sensitive to others who are in crisis and more thoughtful about your own habits and behaviors.
While you won’t be exactly the same as you were before life’s storm blew your way, you might actually find that you’re a little better.
8. Your thoughts are always true.
Our minds are constantly going.
It’s easy to listen to all of that chatter and, because it emanates from you and your mind, believe it.
However, your thoughts aren’t always true.
Your inner chatterbox may tell you that you’re a worthless piece of crap.
Just because you thought it doesn’t make it true. You’re not a worthless piece of crap.
Maybe you’re struggling right now, but we all struggle at times. It’s part of the human condition.
Don’t let your own irrational and unrealistic thoughts make you dumb. Cull out the productive, kind thoughts from those that are destructive and cruel.
You don’t have to believe everything you think.
9. My life will be better when ______ happens.
What are you waiting for?
What happens if fill-in-the-blank never happens?
“When I retire my life would be better.”
Okay. Well, my friend Cathy retired and then she died several months later.
“My life would be better if I had more money.”
Maybe. But how much is enough? Will you let your life go by while you are vainly struggling and waiting for the mystical “more” to happen?
You get the idea.
Life is in front of you right now.
Don’t wait to live it.
10. If I work hard enough, things won’t change in my life.
Change is inevitable.
You know this but do you know it?
Have you taken it into your core and made change a regular part of your life, a routine?
You don’t have to like change, but you need to not resist it.
The myth that you can outrun change is making you dumb. Be smart and allow change to work its magic where it can.
Need to bounce back in life? Download my FREE ebook, Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.
Featured photo credit: the girl in the wood looks up via Shutterstock