Does saying something make it true?


When she was little, my daughter Bri had a friend who taught me a wonderful lesson.  Bri was 3 or 4 at the time and the friend was a year younger.

The friend would look at her, dressed as she was in this picture, and say, “You’re not wearing blue jeans.”

Bri would say, “Yes, I am!”

The friend would smile and say, “No, you’re not.”

And Bri would get upset.

Had it not been upsetting for Bri, I would have laughed out loud.

I kept telling her that it didn’t matter what he said.  Clearly, she WAS wearing blue jeans and his saying she wasn’t didn’t change that.

I talked to her (at her level) about how what he said was about what was going on for him, not about what she was wearing.  I told her that when people feel content and peaceful, they don’t say things to upset others.

I suggested that maybe he wanted her attention or to get a rise out of her.  We talked about other ways she could react.

I told her that just because he said it, it didn’t make it true.

And it still upset her.

Finally, he did it enough that it didn’t upset her any more.  Later it became a joke between the two of us.

Now she’s in college, and this still comes to mind for me periodically because it helps me keep perspective.

When someone says something to me, especially if they’re upset with me, I try to remember to stop and take a breath.  I look to see if there’s something I want to change about what I’m saying and doing, or if this is a case of “You aren’t wearing blue jeans!”

It’s helped me realize that there is a vast difference between someone being upset WITH me and someone being upset IN MY PRESENCE – even though the other person may be confusing the two.

So when someone gets angry with you or tells you that you haven’t done enough, check in with yourself.  Is there something you’d like to change, or are they telling you that you aren’t wearing blue jeans?  Are they upset with you or in your presence?

It’s so easy when it’s something you can see and verify – like the blue jeans.  Just look down.  Are you wearing blue jeans?  Then just smile and let them think what they want to.

But when it’s something intangible – like being mean, selfish, or rude – it’s can be much harder for us to be objective about it.  To stand in our knowing of ourselves. 

When it touches on an area that’s particularly sensitive – like being good enough or strong enough – then it’s even harder to stay confident and centered.  This can actually take practice.

One thing I work on with all my clients is their getting to know themselves better.  In fact, that naturally comes from our work together.  And it’s vital to being able to decide when the person has a legitimate case and when they’re telling you that you aren’t wearing blue jeans.

Now, ready for the SUPER tricky situation? 

It’s when you’re saying these things to yourself.

THAT’s when you’re really invested in it.  When you really believe it and think you’re speaking The Truth.

Plus, you REALLY know your own tender spots!

Do you tell yourself things like:

  • I’m so lazy.
  • This is never going to work.
  • This is so hard.
  • My business will never really succeed and be as big as ________’s.

Often when you say these things, you’re voicing your deepest fears.  And that’s when you need to be gentle and loving with yourself.

At those times, asking yourself one simple question can totally change your perspective:

Is this true or am I telling myself that I’m not wearing blue jeans?

Another way to say this is:

Is there another possibility?

Let’s look at the statement, “I’m so lazy”.

Is there another possibility?

Is time for integration and processing key for you to find clarity?  What if you gave yourself dedicated time for that and honored that need?  How good would that feel?  How much more productive could you be?

Is there a fear that’s keeping you stuck?  What can lovingly be done about that?

Take the statement, “This is so hard”. 

Is there another possibility?

What if you found a way to have fun with this?  What if you imagined you were a child and approached it that way?  What if you planned to work on it first thing in the morning when you’re fresh?  What if you do some empowering visualizations before you start?

Remember that just because you say it, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

There might be other possibilities.

What are some other possibilities you see in your life?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.


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