We all tell ourselves different lies, probably on a daily basis. When we're confronted with the reality of this self-deception, well, it's awkward, uncomfortable, sometimes disarming. Unfortunately, for someone like me who seeks to be as authentic, rational, and emotionally stable as I possibly can, I go through cycles where I sit down and inventory the lies that run through my head on a regular basis, and then I start to attack them with logic, dispel them with rational thought... or at least I try. Here are some of the lies I find to be the most pervasive in my life...
1. I need someone in my life to be happy and to feel complete. This is probably the biggest one for me. I remember asking a friend once, "Where's your other half?" He very quickly responded, "He's not my other half. That would mean that I'm not a complete person in and of myself. That's not me." He's right, for the most part. I do believe that, as humans, we're made to be in relationship with others, to be a part of a community. That said, I know plenty of friends who are single and perfectly content. We're all whole people, even if we don't always feel like it. And unfortunately, whole does not necessarily mean without pain or brokenness, but while the process of healing is often helped by the presence of others, we never really need someone else to complete us.
2. I'm not beautiful because I don't have ... In a world and culture where media is constantly telling us what is and is not attractive, sometimes it's painstakingly difficult to find the beauty in yourself. At IML a couple of years ago (a kink/leather/rubber/fetish convention held in Chicago every Memorial Day), I was sitting out in the lobby with a friend of mine and my partner's. I believe it was my second time attending the convention, and being someone who makes vanilla soft serve look kinky at times, I felt out of place. I didn't feel as if I looked good in anything remotely skin tight. I wasn't into really anything there. I didn't feel attractive, and I shared this with our friend. He looked me straight in the face and said, "Sweetie, you have to realize that there are plenty of people who find what you've got goin on goin on." In a later conversation, he shared his belief that beauty is a fetish. Everyone is into something different, and sometimes, we have what someone else finds attractive, and they have what we find attractive. It was a pretty strong revelation, and certainly a new way of thinking about beauty.
3. Money is necessary for happiness. This one's a strong one for a lot of us. We live in a nation riddled with debt and obsessed with materialism. We watch shows about celebrities and the extravagant lives they lead. We walk by stores that display things we want but would have to starve to have. For most of us though, it feels like we can never have enough money. We live paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, money is a necessity, but I've learned something over the past couple of years. Last summer, my grandma passed away, and much to my surprise, had prepared for me in a way I could and would never have imagined. I was concerned for myself afterwards that I would waste it all and go on a sickening shopping binge, and while I have done some indulging, I've honestly found more joy in doing for others. Yes, I know that this is not a possibility for many of us. But the lesson is simple, at least from my perspective. It really doesn't take a lot of money to make one happy, not when one understands that it's the people in our lives that bring true contentment.
4. I can eat whatever I want and I'll be fine. After two and a half weeks of watching my calorie intake and exercising three days a week, I've learned what difference a little intentionality about eating and physical health can make. I've also learned that overindulging on those things that are unfortunately not so good can make me feel, well, pretty crappy. I've been amazed to see some pretty drastic changes both in my appearance and in my energy levels since tracking my food and exercise. Granted, for someone like me who can become slightly obsessive over things like this, it's hard. In times like that, it helps having someone there to pull you back out of the madness, sit down at the table for a meal with you, and remind you that there's more to life than the numbers on the scale.
5. Healthy relationships happen when I keep my mouth shut, my ideas to myself, and my feelings bottled up. Anyone with any amount of common sense sees the deception present here. Good relationships take mutuality, and nothing good can come from one person feeling unimportant or silenced. Unfortunately, some of us grow up thinking our emotions matter less than someone else's. It's important for any friendship or partnership for there to be a sense of equality, even if it's in a constant state of flux. We all give, and we all take, and it's vital to feel as if what one receives is comparable to what one gives. This probably differs between introverts and extroverts (I'm the former), but the idea is the same. Everyone needs validation, and no one has the right to take that away.