Oh Say, What Is Truth?
When I was growing up in the Mormon (LDS) Church, one of the hymns we sang was "Oh Say, What Is Truth?" In this world where there is an increasing amount of misinformation, and conflicting views about so much stuff permeate our society, I've thought a lot about this phrase. But more specifically, today I want to ask you the question, "Why do you believe what you believe?"
Really, why do any of us believe any of the things we believe? How do we know for certain what is actually true? Can something be true for one person and not for another? How do our perceptions shape what we believe to be true?
I took a course from a former casting director, Amy Jo Berman (and she is excellent, by the way. I highly recommend her courses), and although the course was geared towards actors, the course itself centered around the idea of mindset and the the lies we tell ourselves that we take for truth and how to change our mindset.
One of things Berman refers to is our "crazy roommate," that voice in our head that is always giving commentary about what we are doing, criticizing us, causing us to second-guess ourselves, and often sabotaging our happiness. We all have that voice to some degree or other. And we believe that voice is us and that what it is saying is true because it sounds like us and its pronouncements are based on what we believe our reality to be.
This is the voice that says stuff like, "You're not good enough," "Why are you doing that?" "You're too fat," "I wish I was more attractive," "You'll never be a good as 'so-and-so'," "This is the best you'll ever get," "You're wrong to think that," and so many more self-defeating things.
I'm going to tell you some things I have believed in the past as truth as well as some things that I catch myself believing as truth now. It doesn't matter which are which. What matters is, are any of these actually true? As you read some of these, you may even think some of them are true. But I invite you to cast your judgments aside and just accept that each statement may or may not actually be true, regardless of your preconceived notion of whether they are. Here we go:
"God doesn't care about me."
"Being gay is a sin."
"I'm not very good looking."
"I'm just kind of mediocre at everything I do."
"My best acting days are over with."
"I'll never be wealthy."
"I'm too lazy."
"Wow, I really blew that audition."
"If I leave my religion, I will disappoint God."
"I guess this is as good as it's ever going to get."
"I'm so fat."
"Life would be easier if I just died."
"I wish I were more ambitious."
"I'm not a very good driver."
"Man, I suck at sports."
"I'll never be good enough."
"Well, that was terrible."
"If they knew what I was really thinking, they'd hate me."
"I'm not worthy."
"There's no use in trying anymore."
"I'm going to be alone forever."
I'm a terrible person.
I could list many more, but you get the point. Perhaps one or more of these feel familiar to you. What are the things that voice in your head tells you about yourself or about the world you live in that just might not be true? Feel free to create your own list of things you think are true about yourself.
Look around you. We've got people who think that religion is bad or that religion is good. Who absolutely believe in God or who absolutely don't. Who believe that the "other" is in the wrong and that they're in the right. That the other political party is to blame. That we have nothing in common with the "other side." Who believe that their reality is, in fact, reality.
But is it?
As I've said before, I work at an attraction called Omega Mart in Las Vegas. It's starts off as a grocery store with all of these strange products. One of the themes of Omega Mart deals with alternate realities, and one of the grocery store products is called Wake Up!
Anyway, if one reads some of the product material, there are a lot of funny, and sometimes profound, thoughts. I don't get many opportunities to do this myself when I am working, but I got a chance to read the label and was struck by a thought on the back of the container.
Towards the bottom (right above the ingredients), it says,
"Yes, you are living in all, and none of these realities at once. If reality can be different, then maybe you can be different too. The world shapes your perception, and you re-shape the world in turn. You emerge from the illusion..." The day after I read that, a friend posted on Facebook, and one of her sentences jumped out at me:
"...we are all experiencing this world in our own way, thru the lens of our personal life experiences."
And just the other day I read this quote from actor Simon Callow's book, Being An Actor:
"We are who we are, you say, because of upbringing and accident—BUT WE NEED NOT BE. In order to survive in the world, we limit ourselves to certain patterns of thought and behaviour, forging an identity which excludes vast areas of potential. On behalf of the audience, you abandon your own identity. Kean in Sartre's play cries: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not exist.' He might better have said: 'I does not exist.'"
So is the reality we actually believe to be true, true? Is the reality we perceive really reality as it exists? It's easy to believe it is. If I inundate myself with certain messages and programming, I am liable to believe that is indeed reality.
Amy Jo Berman offers a tool when we are faced with something we believe to be true. It is simply asking four questions:
Is this true?
Can I know with absolute certainty that this is true?
How do I feel when I think this thought?
Who would I be if I didn't think this thought?
Let's take something I sometimes believe about myself: "I'm lazy."
Is that true? I often think it is.
Can I know with absolute certainty that it is true? With absolute certainty? No. Because sometimes I'm not lazy.
How do I feel when I think this thought? Not great.
Who would I be if I didn't think this thought? Probably a more motivated, positive person.
So if it isn't true, why am I hanging on to it? Let it go.
I am a believer in the Law of Attraction. What we focus on is what we attract in life, whether we think we want it or not. This reminds me of a recent quote I read from Bruce Lee:
If we constantly tell ourselves we are ugly, we will grow to believe that. If we constantly tell ourselves we aren't good enough, we won't be. If we constantly tell ourselves that bad things always happen to us, they will. If we constantly believe the worst in others, that is all we will see. If we constantly bemoan the fact that we never have enough money, we never will.
On the flip side, if we tell ourselves how great we are, how beautiful we are, how vibrant we are; if we constantly look for the good in others and in our life situations; if we focus on letting go of the mind trash that weighs us down, those things will become our new reality.
Try this experiment today. I want you to think about red cars. I just want you to focus on red cars today. As you go about your day, you will likely notice more incidents of red cars. Does that mean more red cars suddenly came into existence? No. But they became more present in your reality because that's what you were focused on.
I have a friend who constantly writes on Facebook about nothing ever going right for her, how bad things always seem to happen to her, how she can never get ahead. You know what? She's right. That is her reality and her truth as she perceives it. But you know what? I think by constantly focusing on that, she attracts that. Likewise, I have another friend that continually seems grateful even when things are not going smoothly; who seems focused on finding the good in others; who chooses to lift those around her up; who has such an energy about her that she inspires me to want to be like her.
I'll tell you who seems happier.
Now that is not a judgment on the first friend. She just has a lot of baggage and mind trash that she needs to let go of. And it is her experiences and life perceptions that have caused her to carry those unnecessary things and believe things about herself that aren't actually true. A thought included in a previous post said, in part:
"You're true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people's opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are."
We are products of the realities we have created. And the truth is, as impossible as it may seem—especially when one is in the thick of those "realities"—we can un-create them. How about you? What do you believe about yourself? How does that make you feel? What things make you feel good about yourself? What's standing in your way? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I'd love to hear them.