You Can Read Your Mind.
You can’t lie to yourself. You can certainly try through denial, but truly lying (pun intended) to yourself is intrinsically impossible. A part of you will always know the truth. It’s easy to convince yourself of certain things in order to justify actions or decisions, but this type of behavior usually won’t provide the best long-term result. There is a way, however, to use this whole “not lying to yourself” thing to your advantage. Let me explain…
A Common Denominator
Think about a decision you’ve made recently that was relatively unimportant. It can be something simple, like which shirt you chose to wear today, a channel you watched on TV last night, or a song you picked to listen to while you were driving this week. Off the top of your head, what do each of those choices have in common? The answer is none of them will negatively affect you if you would have chosen, say, the red shirt over the blue shirt, ABC over CBS, or Sam Smith over Taylor Swift. You don’t lie to yourself in these situations — you do exactly what you want.
Gimme That Sh*t
Now, imagine a scenario where you steer yourself toward a bad choice for what might seem good (at the time) or result in a form of immediate gratification. This could be something small like choosing to vedge out and do nothing because you’re not feeling particularly productive today, or something bigger like buying something new and expensive that you don’t necessarily need — you just kind of want it.
Preparing for the Whoops
In the direct moments after decisions like these are made, a surge of happiness washes over you and the ideal result of your choice is realized. The actual idea of the choice might even be more invigorating than actually making the choice. That happiness doesn’t last long, though. In the scenario with the vedging, you’re either bored or tired (or both) a few hours later, and you’ve given up your day for nothing. In the purchasing scenario, a few months may pass when a real need presents itself, one that commands a sizable expenditure. Maybe your washing machine explodes, or your computer gets stolen. Maybe nothing happens, but your projected budget isn’t quite panning out how you intended. Your credit card isn’t helping you at that point.
Wealth is a Two-Lane Freeway
It’s okay to chill out, but usually better to do so at night, after you’ve earned it. It’s okay to buy a new car or a new TV, but only if you don’t end up paying more than money for it — stress is a currency which is undervalued. It’s an odd kind of currency, too, because the less of it you have, the richer you become. Sometimes we can make rash decisions without realizing the amount of stress we may have just invested in.
Less is More
I offer a solution to making better choices, and that solution is to condition your commitment to yourself. When you hesitate about a decision, small or large, trust that instinct. Consider the timeline of your choice’s lifespan, and ask yourself if it’s worth giving that choice life in the first place. When you do this, you will be happier and more empowered than ever, not only because your life has suddenly improved from a physical/monetary/mental perspective, but because you’re without as much stress. We all make poor decisions from time to time — it’s inevitable, and nobody’s perfect. If you’re honest and true to yourself, though, you can make less of them. A lot less.