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Six lies we tell ourselves

We all tell ourselves little white lies from time to time, and that's OK. But when those lies keep us stuck in a rut or start to justify poor decisions the process of self-delusion can become destructive.

We have taken a look at the top six lies that women tell themselves about their bodies, their health and their states of mind, and given you a way to replace them with a positive, empowering truth.

I'll start tomorrow.
We generally know what we should be doing to improve our lives, our health and our moods, but taking the first step is almost impossible. Whether it's starting an exercise programme, diet or social activity, we sustain ourselves with the promise that we will tackle it tomorrow but tomorrow never comes.

The truth: Start today. Right now. Walk around the block, eat a healthy dinner or call your friend you haven't spoken to in a while. And then keep doing it.

I'm ugly because of my awful thighs/nose/belly/ankles.
Look, we're not in a position to make an objective assessment of the various parts of your body but nobody's perfect. You may not have the world's slimmest thighs, but you might have the most dazzling smile. The most appealing characteristic, however, is confidence, so try not to obsess about the bits of you that you like the least.

The truth: Life isn't about tallying up physical attributes to see who comes out ahead (although it can sometimes feel like that). Work on accentuating what you do have but, more importantly, remember that it's the person on the inside that makes friends and wins hearts.

I deserve this treat/purchase/break
Sheryl Crow sang, If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad, so it must be true. Um, actually no. There are countless things in life that deliver instant gratification but do nothing for you in the long term

The truth: You know what's good for you and what's not. If you need a treat, go right ahead, but don't allow short-term happiness to justify ongoing overindulgence in unhealthy choices. One way to set up a good work/reward system is to plan your rewards at the outset. So, for instance, you can have a calorie-laden dessert if you stick to your diet for a whole week. Or you can stop and read a chapter of your book once you've finished four pages of your assignment. And don't let yourself slip up before the allocated milestone.

I can afford this.
How easily we fall into the trap of the impulse buy. Our consumerist culture is set up to make us believe that we must have whatever we want, right away. We have to spend to save. We have to buy one to get one free. Or, really, we just deserve it. This kind of culture makes us neglect our budgets and ignore our bank balances

The truth: You should never buy clothes or food on credit. Every month, you should cover all your expenses. Then you should allocate a portion of your income to long-term savings such as your retirement, medium-term savings such as a house or a car, and short-term savings for things like holidays, electronic goods or designer clothes. Your monthly surplus can then be spent on impulse purchases.

I thrive on stress.
Stress is one of the greatest killers of the modern age, leading to hypertension and metabolic diseases as well as countless other emotional and physical complaints. But, for many of us, it's such a normal, sustained state of being that we don't know how we'd exist without it.

The truth: You need downtime even if at first you don't know what to do with yourself. If you find yourself suffocating under pressure and deadlines and demands, plan a way out from under the heap. Book yourself a holiday somewhere where you can stare at a river or a mountain, enjoy your surroundings and breathe.

Being with him is better than being alone.
Some of us are so desperate to be in a relationship that we overlook any negative aspect of a partner's personality to justify keeping him around. Possessiveness, laziness, selfishness, a lack of ambition, financial irresponsibility or not being committed are all ignored as we try to convince ourselves that he's a decent guy deep down.

The truth: While everyone isn't perfect, there are some characteristics that can make a man a less-than-ideal mate. Listen to the nagging voice of uncertainty in your mind and be honest with yourself. If he isn't worth the emotional investment, let him go. It's better to be alone and moving forward than held back by someone who doesn't support you in your life and growth.

The final truth
Everybody is made up of good and bad characteristics, and it's the combination of both that make you uniquely you. Focus on showing your positives to the rest of the world, but remember that your negatives also make you interesting. So don't beat up on yourself, but don't cut yourself too much slack either. Self-improvement is a lifelong journey; enjoy the ride.

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