The Stories We Tell Ourselves

We ALL tell stories. But perhaps more important than the stories we tell others, are the ones that we tell ourselves. The ones that are so oft repeated we begin to think of them as fact. I’m not good enough/fast enough/thin enough to be a dancer. I’ll never make it as a professional artist.

A while ago, a healer pointed to my husband’s head. “Everything your parents told you- all lies,” she said. For him, this was an epiphany. At the time, I found it confusing and couldn’t clearly comprehend what she was talking about. It wasn’t until after I’d taken a spiritual memoir writing course and the Buddhist teacher asked us to journal about the lies we tell ourselves (exclusively those which were holding us back) that I began to gain an understanding of the concept.

When I returned home, I rushed into his studio. “I understand!” I exclaimed. “She was telling you that all the things your parents had told you- you can’t do this! you won’t succeed at that!– they are lies. You are capable of doing anything you put your mind to!”

He looked up and smiled, “That is exactly right.”

“You think you aren’t talented enough to be a writer,” he said. “But you are! The lies in your head are holding you back.”

I nodded. It was true. Ever since my father told me that the chance of becoming a published author was one in a million, I had all but given up. I let it drain my confidence. I began to internalize what he had said- allowing the statement to harden- to begin to look and feel like fact. Why risk the shame and embarrassment associated with rejection? I put my manuscripts in a drawer and left them there.

In the memoir class, I realized that my father could not foretell the future; if I didn’t shake his voice, I would fail to share my writing or contribute to ongoing cultural conversation.

The importance of self-confidence is oft repeated, but with good reason; you must believe in yourself. You must care for yourself. You must care enough to look inward and examine your core beliefs. What stories are you telling yourself? And which, if any, are interfering with your dreams and/or personal development?

We all see the world though a unique lens- one that is made up of and colored by personal experience. Sometimes, however, it is important to extricate oneself, if only for a moment, to gain a better understanding of its varied and manifold components.

If you feel moved to do so, I encourage you to leave a comment so that other readers can benefit from your wisdom and experience. Thank you!

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Can Trump Help Us Heal?

Donald Trump’s rise is neither accident nor tragedy. He is a reflection of American values- our current obsession with fame, wealth, materialism, and ego- the human embodiment of a sick and ailing culture. But what is the point of said wealth (after $75,000 a year, happiness is capped), if it does not increase happiness?

Some celebrities (kudos to Cameron Diaz) have taken a bold step; they have told the truth. According to Cameron, neither wealth nor celebrity status will bring you happiness unless a great deal of spiritual and interpersonal work is done alongside it. It is our relationships, mindfulness, and self-compassion that have the ability to spark joy. Wealth, many have discovered, is an empty promise. Celebrity can be isolating. Ego is a trap. And yet as a culture, we continue to eat these lies, digesting them on a daily basis. Pshhh, you are probably saying, “How does my desire to be famous/rich have anything to do with the rise of Donald Trump?” Give me a second to explain.

I believe that we are all on a spiritual journey and that throughout this journey we attract people, things, and experiences into our lives for a certain reason; to further our own individual growth. Donald Trump’s rise presents the opportunity for a great deal of people to learn a spiritual lesson simultaneously; never before has the rise of a politician had the ability to raise our collective consciousness to such a degree. He is giving millions of people the opportunity to learn and grow together, to maximize the spiritual growth of the nation as a whole. He is, in the spiritual sense, merely holding a mirror up to our own values.

Do we like what we see?

Each of us continues to play a role in the development of our culture whether or not we choose to acknowledge it- what we say, what we post, how we choose to spend our time- we are creating the energy in which we live, the communal energy with with which we surround ourselves. Berating the Donald while continuing to worship fame, wealth, and material success will not work. Not only is it fruitless; it is hypocritical. This is and must be an inside job. Collectively and individually we must all take a good hard look at who we are and how we operate. Do we worship celebrity culture? Are we spending a great deal of time lusting after extreme wealth? Are we blaming others versus taking responsibility for our own actions? Are we allowing fear to run our lives? Are we in touch with our feelings? Do we know what brings us satisfaction and joy?

The way out of this mess (I refer to the Donald’s nomination) is not through protests or demonstration- but through examining and redefining American culture. We must become masters of the inner journey- we must make the choice to look inward, to address the source of trauma and fear- only in that way, will be able to rid ourselves of the anger Donald feeds upon.

Happiness is an inside job and so it turns out, is the health of the American political system.