5 terrible things you need to stop saying to yourself

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Words matter. What you say and tell yourself has feelings behind it. Words can trigger us. This week, we dive into 5 common phrases we all say that are making us feel terrible. Listen in and learn why they’re so damaging and what to say instead. Listen and learn.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman. I worked almost 12 years at Amazon and saw so many brilliant and successful overachievers burn themselves out and leave their jobs because they’re so stressed and anxious. But guess what? Having a successful career does not have to be at the expense of your mental sanity and personal time. There’s an easier way, and I can show you how. Let’s do this right, y’all. I gotta share my “I’m an idiot” moment of the week.

Oh, so I was in Arizona doing a workshop for a women’s group. It was so much fun. Anyways, I wore this dress for the workshop. I flew in, did the workshop that day, and then the next morning, today, I flew back home. And I brought clothes for both days. I put on clean underwear, I showered, I did all the things a good human should be. But this morning, as I was in my hotel room getting dressed, I was like, “Oh, I don’t really want to wear these jeans I brought. I’m just gonna go sit on a plane. It’s not as comfortable as my dress.” So I was like, “It’s fine, it’s still clean. The dress I’d worn the day before, I was like, “I’m just gonna wear it. It’s not a big deal. I’m not going to run into anyone.”

Well, what do you know? As I was walking from my hotel room to the lobby to go pick up my Uber, I just happened to pass all of the women from the conference were coming back from an early morning hike. I was like, “Hi, hi me again.” Oh, I know it’s not a big deal, and none of them probably cared or they probably just laughed with me, but oh man, it was one of those like, I just felt like an idiot. I was like, “I promise I changed my clothes. Welcome to my life, y’all. You know, it’s a good laugh. Okay, today I want to talk about five terrible things you need to stop saying to yourself, and these are pretty common things we all say, but I want you to join together with me and let’s get them out of our vocabulary.

Words are really important. They matter. Think about things people used to say 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago, even two years ago that we know better and are working to remove from our vocabulary. Words are important. They have impact to us. I think about the word pandemic. Growing up as we learned histories, COVID-19 was not the first pandemic in the world, but as we learn about it from history, you hear the word pandemic, and it didn’t really resonate and have as much of an impact on me as now when you hear the word pandemic, and as we’ve lived through it, that word feels different when we hear it.

Okay, words are really important. So, I wanted to tell you the five phrases I think we need to stop saying. They’re not bad, and again, they’re pretty common and things most people say multiple times a day, if not multiple times throughout their lifetime, but I think we need to stop saying them because they just make us feel terrible. Thinking them and saying them doesn’t actually help us get the result we want. And some of these phrases, they’re kind of just like an illusion and something you can’t ever achieve. But let me tell you what they are, and I’ll kind of explain it as I go.

This first one actually came up at this retreat I was just at, doing a workshop, and the speaker before me was great. Um, she had a great story and a really great message, and it really resonated. But one of the things she talked about, I was like, “Uh, I don’t know if I totally agree with that statement.” So, I agree with the point she was trying to make, but I think it’s one of these phrases we need to stop saying.

So, she asked everyone in the room to stand up if they felt like their life was out of balance, and everyone in the room stood up except me. And then I felt like a brat, and I was like, “I should have just stood up. I should have given in to peer pressure.” I understood the message she was trying to deliver, but the first phrase I think we need to stop saying is, “You want better work-life balance” or “things are just so out of balance.” Because here’s the thing, saying that doesn’t feel motivating and exciting and focused and driven to change things to get that quote-unquote balance you want.

I’ve never in my life heard someone be like, “Oh, today was such a well-balanced day.” Like, it just doesn’t happen. Balance is made up. It’s constantly changing and shifting. It’s not this like blanket one-size-fits-all. You should be doing personal things X percentage of the time, family things X percent of the time, work things X percent of the time. Like, it really is this made-up concept of balance. I think of, like, if you have ever been on a paddleboard before, you constantly need to shift your weight to maintain your balance. Maybe there are some waves in the water, or you’re wanting to go faster or slower. Maybe the water you’re in has a certain current. Balance is not this one-and-done. So telling yourself, “I want to have better work-life balance,” I just don’t think is a helpful phrase because it’s not really achievable.

So, I don’t ever tell myself things are so out of balance. It just isn’t helpful. I like to tell myself, “Oh, tomorrow, I want to spend more time with my kids.” Okay, that is helpful. That gives me something to do that doesn’t feel like I’m a bad person. I’ve been spending too much time at work. It gives my brain a problem to solve that actually is going to get me where I want to go. And I can measure it, and I can see it, and I can think of ways to do it. Not just like, “Oh, I want better work-life balance tomorrow.”

My logical brain, when I think that thought, is going to tell me, “Oh, I should, you know, log off of work at six.” But reality is, I’m gonna have my phone on me, and I’m going to be checking work all night. So telling myself, “I want that balance,” I just kind of beat myself up when I don’t have it. Instead, I like to get a little bit more specific and say, “Oh, I want to do this tomorrow.” Balance is something that shifts with the different seasons of your life. What balances can change day to day, it can change hour to hour.

Okay, so the first phrase I want you to join me in stop saying is that you want better balance or whatever flavor of that phrase is for you, okay?

The second phrase I think is terrible and not helping us move forward and progress and have the life we want is, “We should be on the same page.”

“I hear this all the time with relationships and how we should parent our kids. I hear this a lot with your manager as well. I want to be on the same page again. It’s one of these thoughts that, like, sounds lovely, but when we think it, it’s not helping us get to where we want. It’s us trying to control and change the other person, trying to get them to see our side of things so that they can agree with us or that we can agree together, because if we don’t agree together, then we can’t move forward. I just don’t think that’s true or helpful.

Let’s take the parenting example. If you are trying to help one of your kids, if you’re trying to make sure that the two parents are on the same page, I’m not saying not to talk about it and don’t try to figure things out together, but if you feel like you can’t move forward until you’re on the same page, you’re going to be spending all of your time and energy trying to agree together instead of spending that time and energy trying to parent and help your kid. What may actually help your child is if one parent does it one way and another parent does it another way, and you might see which way does the child respond to best, which way do they like? Maybe it gives them two different perspectives. Maybe you don’t actually need to be on the same page, and that’s okay.

Think about it with your manager. When we’re thinking this thought like, ‘I need to be on the same page,’ it can be so frustrating because guess what? You and your manager, you’re not always going to agree, and that’s okay. You don’t need to stop telling yourself you need to be on the same page and go and do the thing. Keep moving forward, keep going. I try to never tell myself, ‘We should be on the same page.’ I try to be a little more realistic and say, ‘It makes it easier when we agree, but it’s okay if we don’t.’ That feels more freeing to me. It’s not as heavy. I’m not trying to hold on to it as tight. It’s not as intense of like, ‘Oh, I gotta get him to see my side,’ or ‘I have to understand their side.’ Second phrase I think we all need a drop from our vocabulary is a version of ‘We need to be on the same page.’

The third phrase I think we need to stop and let go of is ‘It’s not fair.’ It should be fair. I laugh because I hear this all the time with my kids. All my kids are under 11, and there’s a lot of ‘But that’s not fair,’ you know? And I remember growing up, my parents saying, ‘Well, life isn’t fair,’ and I kind of wanted to punch him in the face when they said that. But why do we need it to be fair? Again, I’m not saying let’s go around and make everything as unfair as possible, but why do we want someone else to hurt as much as we do or to suffer as much as we have, or for things to be equally challenging and hard?

What I believe is life is actually fair because everyone struggles half the time and everyone’s got some great things going on half the time. We don’t know what that looks like for someone else because we’re all unique, complex individual humans, but it’s just fascinating how much we obsess over trying to make things fair.

“This is also a phrase that shows how much our brain really gets hung up on not accepting what is because usually it’s something that’s happened in the past that we want to change because it, quote unquote, should be fair. Let’s take, for example, layoffs. There were more layoffs this week at Amazon, and it’s been a hard week. Like, there are people that have reached out to me that I know that know people that know people that have been laid off. Like, it’s terrible. It’s not fair, however you want to look at it. I don’t actually want to believe it’s fair. When we’re so angry and upset and obsessed with making it fair, what happens is okay, we may want to go fight the system. But fighting the system from anger and rage is never going to get you the outcome you want. Let’s go fight the system from calm and confidence and driven and love. That’s going to help us figure out how do we fight the system to get the result we want. Just being mad and angry because it’s not fair and trying to fight to make it fair, I don’t think is going to get us where we want to go. The third thing I think we need to stop saying is, ‘It’s not fair.’ Because I would say, ‘You’re right, it’s not. Now what? What should we do about it? What do we want to do now?’

Okay, the fourth thing, it’s a version of ‘but I want them to understand where I’m coming from.’ I heard this one all the time. I was talking with a client the other day, and I just felt for this girl. She was working in a setting where she had graduated from college and had an advanced degree, and was working in a firm where she had been promised that she would be mentored and trained and supported as she kind of learned this particular industry. And it was a smaller firm, and she, I think, is the only woman in this firm, and it was older men that were working there. And none of these things were happening. She wasn’t getting any attention. She was not trained on anything. They were not even meeting with her on a weekly basis. They were just kind of throwing administrative tasks at her. And rightfully so, she was annoyed and frustrated because she had turned down other jobs for this. But where she was really just stuck and couldn’t get out of it, couldn’t say, ‘I’m out, I’m gonna go find a new job,’ was because she was so stuck in this loop of ‘but I want them to understand where I’m coming from. I want them to understand my side of the story.’ And what I had offered to her and what I’d offer to any of you that think this thought often is they may never understand your side of the story because maybe they can’t, maybe they don’t want to. But the good news is we don’t need them to understand your side of the story. We don’t need them to understand where you’re coming from. What we need to focus on is what do you want? What are you okay with? What are you not okay with? And how do you go take some action to align to that? They may never understand you, and that’s okay. As long as you know where you’re coming from and you understand you, that’s what matters. This, again, is another phrase of ‘they don’t understand where I’m coming from’ I think is not a helpful phrase we all say in multiple different ways.

And the last one I would offer to you to drop from your vocabulary is ‘I just need closure.’ Closure is a feeling.

“It comes from the thoughts you have. It doesn’t come from having a conversation. It doesn’t come from getting your questions answered. It doesn’t come from finding out some of the details. You don’t have to have those things. Closure comes from you deciding that’s the end. I’m moving forward. It’s as simple as that. But what happens is when we spin in this thought pattern of ‘but I just need closure,’ sometimes we get a little bit crazy. I think of this as, like, as we’ve all been there or seen people that break up and it just kind of drags on forever and keeps going back and forth with text messages or meetups or conversations because we just want that closure. But usually when we’re seeking that closure, we’re looking for some evidence that’s going to make us feel justified or validated or okay. You don’t need to go and get that. You just get to decide, ‘I’m done. The end. I’m walking away.’ They don’t want to be with me, so I’m gonna go find someone that does, or I don’t want to be with them, and I’m gonna go find someone I do want to be with. It’s okay.

A while back, I was dating someone and it ended, and there wasn’t a lot of detailed back and forth conversation in the end, but I was totally fine with it. And it was fascinating to me to see how many of my friends kept saying, like, ‘But don’t you want to talk to them? Like, don’t you want some closure?’ And I could honestly, in complete genuine love, say, ‘No, I’m good.’ I just knew it was the end, and that was that. Finding out the details and hashing out conversations was not going to change the outcome. It was over. I had closure. So I would offer to you to stop thinking the thought, ‘I need closure.’ What I would offer to you to believe instead is, ‘I have closure today.’ You’re allowed to believe that.

Okay, these are just five phrases. I think there’s like 500,000 more of these phrases out there that we should probably stop telling ourselves. Again, just notice the patterns, notice the thought loops you get stuck in, and you kind of find yourself obsessing and getting a little more intense around. Usually, it’s something that’s not very helpful. It’s something that you’re trying to get a better understanding of or create outside of you so that you can move forward. But I’d offer to you to know is you can move forward today without that thing outside of you changing. And it’s so much easier and more fun that way. All right, y’all, you’re amazing. You got this. We’ll talk soon.”

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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