Originally posted on 01/10/12
There are certain things that are True with a capital T. We know them to be Truths because we trust science, or we have collected adequate evidence ourselves. For example, if we throw a ball in the air, we know that it will come down because the force of gravity is a True concept. We know that the earth is round and spins on its axis, and as a result, we will experience night and day in succession.
Within our societies, we have other “capital T” Truths that we accept and hold firm to. As American citizens, we accept the Truth that all human life is sacred, and that our freedoms are inalienable, and that we deserve a right to vote. Within our smaller societies, like churches, families, and communities, we embrace other Truths that are as clear to us as the fact that the sky is blue.
We accept other Truths that relate to our personal selves. Some are obvious and indisputable. For me, the list of Truths would include these:
- I am a woman.
- I am a daughter and a sister.
- I am the oldest child.
- I am a life coach.
- I am a dog owner.
After gender, family placement, and career, there are other Truths that we may feel compelled to use in describing ourselves. Many of us throw self-labels around all the time without much of a thought because we see them as Truths. We feel sure that we have more than enough evidence to support our claims to these Truths. Many of our Truths have been with us for so long that we don’t even realize that they are disputable, let alone possibly flat-out wrong. Maybe you’ve heard yourself say things like this:
- I’m short.
- I’m not the smart one—my brother is.
- I’m not meant to be a big success.
- I’m disorganized.
- I’m clumsy.
- I’m not very popular.
- I’m always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
- I’m the dependable one.
- I always fix everyone else’s problems.
- I’m just a moody person.
- I don’t know how to talk to people.
- I’m not a person who will ever be rich.
- I’m not usually invited.
- I’m a lousy cook.
- I’m just not easy to get along with.
Maybe you say things like this sometimes. Maybe you say things like this a lot. Maybe you just say them to yourself. The point is, you say them as if they are Truths. We all do it, but we rarely stop to evaluate our own statements! It becomes so easy to throw around a quip like, “Well, that’s just how I am,” without stopping to think, “Wait a minute. Is that just how I am?”
Now, you’re a thinking person, and you didn’t just pull these ideas out of nowhere. Certainly, we’ve all had life experiences that shape how we see ourselves. Struggling all through school to stay focused on your math assignments may have led to poor grades, and at the time, it probably felt like a Truth to say, “I stink at math.” And for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that you didn’t have a learning disability or anything like that. Let’s say that math wasn’t your strongest area. Fine. But that was a long time ago, and your brain has matured since then…but has your sense of self? If you’re 35 years old and still lugging around the self-label of “I stink at math,” it’s time to do some reevaluation about who you are and what makes you, well, YOU!
I can just hear some of you screaming inside: “Okay, maybe I can let the math thing go. But my finances and paperwork are a mess! I still can’t balance a checkbook, and I have no idea where my money goes. See? I DO stink at math!”
Yes, you have legitimate concerns about your finances, and they deserve attention. And maybe you have these financial concerns because you always thought of yourself as being bad at math, and money issues sprung out of your resistance to deal with numbers. (Or maybe math has nothing to do with it.) What I really want you to notice is that if this is you, you are doing a fantastic job of gathering evidence to support your Truth. My question for you is, “Does embracing that Truth serve you?” It is definitely comfortable. If you’ve always defined yourself in part as a person who stinks at math, or is always late, or can’t get along with others, and then I come along and tell you that maybe your label doesn’t fit as well as you think it does, you’re going to resist. You’re going to hold on tight with both hands to this Truth, whether it really is true or not, whether it serves you or not.
So, while there is much to be said on this subject, I will leave it here for now, and simply ask you to ask yourself one question:
What self-labels am I embracing as Truths that I am willing to reevaluate—and maybe even let go?