Be careful what you tell yourself

April 23, 2015 life 2 min read

For many years I’ve told myself that I’m undisciplined, that I’m a slow reader, that I’m a bad writer, and that I’m not funny. I considered these permanent traits that I could do nothing to improve. I was just bad at them, and that’s how it was.

The problem with the things you tell yourself is that you also tend to tell them to other people. And before those people have a chance to make their own judgements of you, they take your judgements. They think you’re undisciplined, or a bad writer, or not funny.

I’ve realized that most of these things I tell myself aren’t even true. Maybe they were true once, or in a certain situation. But most of them are not permanent. They are things that I can work on and get better at.

It turns out that I just have a really high standard for discipline. I don’t often live up to it, but neither does anybody else. Most people that get to know me well consider me one of the most disciplined people they have ever met.

I’m not an amazing writer or the fastest reader, but those are both things I can improve with practice. Dispelling the myth that I am permanently bad at these things has freed me to seek out ways to get better at them.

Be careful what you tell yourself, because you will believe the lies, and so will everyone else.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.