One Simple Question to Keep Yourself Honest

You might have noticed I have a tendency to exaggerate sometimes. No, really! I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten a million calories in a day. Nor has the humidity ever been recorded at 1000%. I might not have actually careened down a mountainside. I say these things for effect and assume that people will separate the real from the dramatization.

Sometimes, though, I get caught up in my own exaggeration and find myself on the verge of accepting something as fact just because the thought flitted through my mind. Here’s a wee example:

I don’t have time to exercise today becomes I don’t have time to exercise today. I can feel myself gaining weight. Are these pants fitting tighter? OMG, If these pants are tight, how am I going to fit into my business-y pants to meet with clients?

And so on and so on. With me being me, these types of thoughts can lead to a negative thought pattern that will, eventually, have me living under a bridge in a cardboard box. A really, really big one because I’ll be 100 pounds overweight again.

Okay, so this is a bit of a simplistic example, but it’s fairly indicative of the pattern. The good news is that these little “episodes” are usually short-lived, now that I’ve learned one simple little question to ask myself:

is it true?

In Excuses Begone!*, Dr. Wayne Dyer offers a series of questions to stop or avoid such negative patterns, but to be honest, I’ve never needed to move beyond question #1: Is it true?

I might NOT have had time to exercise on a particular day, but chances are good that a missed workout here and there aren’t going to put 100 pounds on my body. Not overnight, anyway.

Or maybe I DID have time to exercise, but I chose to read a book or check out Pinterest put some other important activity ahead of it in the priority list. Nothing wrong with that every now and then, but instead of making a false excuse or spending time going though a dozen possible, but not probable, repercussions, I need to be honest about what happened and either come up with a contingency plan or plan to accept an occasional missed workout without a major meltdown. Or a minor meltdown, for that matter. :)

I’ve found that taking a moment to pause and ask, Is this true? is helpful in many situations: moments of self-doubt, family/friend dramas, or any time I’m feeling some sense of unease or overwhelm. It might not solve the problem of the moment, but it does cut down on the number of false leads so that I can focus on what’s real.

Do you ever catch yourself making false excuses? Or a downward thought spiral? How do YOU turn things around?

*Amazon affiliate link for which I receive a tiny commission

27 thoughts on “One Simple Question to Keep Yourself Honest

  1. OMG, get out of my head! Or, better yet, thank you for being in my head and helping me sort this out :) “Is it (this) true?” is a question Buddhists are to/should/need to ponder, but being the wandering Buddhist that I am, I forget. See? You’re a dharma instructor and didn’t even know it. Thank you, my friend. I’m coming off a 6-day visit from out-of-town guests and nothing about my body feels normal. BUT… is what I’m feeling real and true or temporary?

    • I like being in your head. :) Dr. Dyer is a student of Eastern thought, so it doesn’t surprise me that this is part of the Buddhist principles.

  2. Sigh, blogger ate my comment.

    I tend to be positive most of the time, but the one area of negativity I need to still work on is the fact that I did not reach a weight goal that it means I am unsuccessful.

    • I’m on WP, and it’s *usually* pretty good about keeping track of comments. Sorry about that, Lori!

      I hope you’re able to find a happy place about your success, because I see you as one of the most successful loss/maintenance bloggers out here.

  3. I can be the queen of excuses sometimes. The funny thing is if I do what I am supposed to do in the first place, I usually feel better. I really like the question “is it true?” I will have to remember it the next time I am too “busy” to exercise.

  4. I have had some of those irrational clothing thoughts and have even gone as far as getting out the pants I am just sure no longer fit and trying them! Why or why do we do this to ourselves? Thanks for sharing a great tool for combatting negative thought patterns. I hope I remember to use it!

    • I don’t mind so much that I worry about my clothes not fitting; it’s when I take that (which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to happen) and let it morph into something far more dire and eternal that irritates me. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen that often. Also, fortunately, my pants still fit. :)

  5. I really struggle with these thoughts still. Mostly in regard to eating more than I think I should, or something I don’t think I should–then I start feeling like I have actually gained or will gain all my weight back. And I do force myself to think through ‘is it true?” The mind is a very strange thing sometimes.

    Thanks for this very needed reminder for me.

    • Yup. I catch myself doing the same with food as well. And with finances and housework and relationships and…. :) I’m so much more productive and positive when I get to the truth and go from there.

  6. What a great post and I recognize so much.

    Like Lori I’m a positive person: what can’t be done today, will be done tomorrow or the day after that. There is one exception and that is a missed workout. That can bother me all day and I can be negative about it. But I’m learning.
    This morning I had a run planned but I was awake half the night and was very tired when I woke up. I decided to skip the run and stay in bed 30 minutes longer. Normally this can bother me the entire day but not today. I immediately make a backup plan: do the run tomorrow and switch Friday’s run to Saturday. This means I will miss my strenght workout but the runs are my first priority. Right now at 9 am I’m happy with the choice I made early this morning.

  7. I too love W.D.
    and I too can easily slip into … attempting self deception.
    for me it’s a test
    there are lies I tell myself which serve to motivate me (and Ive written a bit about that) BUT THE OTHERS? I now call myself on. and remind myself I can deceive others–but not myself.

  8. I will have to start doing this and then try to keep myself from saying “it might not be true now but you keep doing/thinking/being X and it might be!” Sometimes I wish I could be a Pollyanna. Life just seems so much more bearable for them than it is for the natural born cynic! :)

    • For whatever reason (perhaps my mostly-Pollyanna nature?), if I start from a place of actual truth, I can use the ‘but if you keep this up…’ in a positive way. How do I make sure I don’t let X become a habit? Or how do I overcome/manage this or that feeling? Even when I wallow in the untrue world for a bit, I’ll get to the positive, but I do prefer the drama- and angst-free route. :)

  9. Oh – I love that little question – Is this true?
    I’m going to remember that the next time I think I can’t do something or try to talk myself out of something!!

  10. A great discussion Cammy!! I think many are nodding their heads… when it comes to exercise & health – I know myself & I just move on or I plan to make up a session another day.. I know it is not going to ruin all the hard work. :) Like you, it is about choices & we can always move on after..

    • For weight/fitness, many of us can’t help but be influenced by previous unsuccessful attempts. They play with our minds. (“That was then; this is now” was one of my mantras for a while. :) )

  11. For me, emotional exaggeration can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if I don’t get a hold on it. But I also think that our culture has become one of exaggerated figures of speech. Maybe it’s all of the social media that promotes the kind of verbal interaction that would not have taken place in past years. I have recently realized that I have been guilty of this, and now understand that what is said and written can serve to make us more emotional or more upset. Great post.

    • I agree on the self-fulfilling prophecy, EJane, and have had it happen on more than one occasion! It’s great when it’s a positive result, not so great on the negative side.

  12. One of the all time great questions! I don’t tend to “go there” too often and when I do I can usually figure out what is really up with me if I think it through; that is a good place to start.

    • You’re right, Susan! It’s a good starting point and helps weed out the untruths so I can focus on what’s real. (Otherwise, I’ll spend waaaay too much time fretting about things that I can’t fix because they’re not really a problem. :)

  13. I have been known to make a few exaggerated excuses before. As soon as I do this I try to shhh up the girl in my head and change it into something positive. Some days are better than others.

  14. Yes, false excuses, negative thought spirals, all of the above. It helps if I step back and say, “you’re lying to yourself.” I really do value the truth. I was betrayed and lied to for years. As a result, I despise dishonesty. I came to realize, though, that I lied to myself. I try to be brutally honest and admit all of my weaknesses to myself. I can’t always turn them around, but at least I recognize it when I’m feeding myself a line of bull!

  15. Oh yes I have problems with identifying what is true! I have some stomach problems and I can get nauseated during a workout so of course I am looking for trouble all the way through my workout ever ready to stop if there is a problem. I constantly question if I am not working hard enough or if I am headed for tummy trouble instead of directing my mind to my breathing and exercises. When I am distracted from the negative spiral everything is easier and I don’t have a problem.

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