The Biggest Lie You’ve Ever Believed

by | May 9, 2017 | Thoughtwork | 0 comments

This article is for you. I guarantee it. I will bet you twenty bucks that you need to hear this. (I would bet you MUCH MORE than twenty bucks, but my husband/accountant/manager/voice-of-reason discourages gambling as a general business practice.)

How do I know you need to read this? Because if you haven’t been introduced to what you’re about to read, it’s going to change your life, BIG TIME. And if you HAVE, the reminder will only make you better. Are you ready for this? Good. Here goes.

My friends, we’ve been believing a lie. Or rather, we’ve been believing a series of lies, perpetuated by both ignorance and greed. Allow me to introduce you to the source of most, if not ALL of your unhappiness:

YOU GENUINELY BELIEVE THAT HOW YOU FEEL DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU HAVE, HOW YOU ARE TREATED BY OTHERS, AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF YOUR LIFE.

In other words, you believe that when you achieve your dream body, it MAKES you proud/confident. When someone is blatantly rude to you, it MAKES you angry. When people remember your birthday, it MAKES you feel loved. When you are fired, it MAKES you feel dejected and anxious. When you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, it MAKES you feel afraid.

This is going to be a bombshell for some of you, but pay attention: NONE OF THE ABOVE CIRCUMSTANCES MAKES YOU FEEL ANYTHING. EVERY EMOTION YOU EXPERIENCE IS CAUSED BY ONE THING, AND ONE THING ONLY: YOUR THOUGHTS.

My whaaaaaaa?

You read that right. It is not what happens to you that creates your feelings, but how you THINK about what happens to you that does. This is not mamby-pamby, new-age bullshit. Nor is it a delusional way of looking at the world. This is ACTUALLY how your emotions work. When you have a thought, it creates a feeling. That feeling can create MORE thoughts, but it never created the thought that caused it. There’s no chicken-and-egg conundrum, here: the thought comes first.

Here’s an example: You arrive to work and are promptly greeted by your boss, who rips your head off over a decision you made, then leaves without letting you explain yourself. How do you feel?

Answer: Depends on what you THINK. Here are some possibilities:
1. Thought – “How dare he treat me that way!”
   Feeling – angry, indignant
2. Thought – “He rarely acts like that – something crazy stressful must be happening to him.”
   Feeling – concerned, curious, wary
3. Thought – “He would never yell at me if he valued me as a person.”
   Feeling – hurt, victimized
4. Thought – “He’s right to yell at me – I do terrible work and I’ll probably be fired.”
   Feeling – ashamed, depressed, afraid
5. Thought – “What a d*#&. I hate that guy so much. I need a new job NOW.”
   Feeling – obstinate, vindictive, bitter

This list could go on for quite a while. How you feel, (and how you then act) in any situation LITERALLY DEPENDS on the thoughts that you think and believe about it.

Here’s another example for you. Let’s say someone you love dies. Sad, right? But what if, when he/she dies, you are out of the country on a remote island, and you don’t find out about the death until a week after it happens? When do you start feeling sadness – when the person dies, or when you find out about it? Obviously, it’s the LATTER. Which means that the death itself causes NOTHING – only your thoughts about it do.

As a final point, let’s say that the person who dies is NOT your loved one, but instead a cold-hearted, blood-thirsty serial killer who has been abducting and brutalizing children in areas near your home. Does his death make you sad, or does it make you relieved and even grateful? Whatever you feel, it is because of a thought.

THE BIG TAKEAWAY

Okay, you might be thinking, so if thoughts cause feelings, and I feel bad, then my thoughts are the reason for that. Great. So it’s all my fault, and I still feel crummy. Why on EARTH should I consider this to be a good thing?

Ah, my dear reader. You always ask exactly what I need you to ask. The answer, by the way, rocks:

IF YOUR THOUGHTS ARE THE CAUSE OF YOUR FEELINGS, AND YOU WANT TO FEEL DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU DO, THEN ALL THAT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN IS TO….

CHANGE. YOUR. THOUGHTS.

It might take you a moment to soak that in. I’ll wait.

……….(whistles three verses of “The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round”)………

My guess is that a few of you instantly came up with some objections. Allow me to address them here:

Objection: I can’t change my thoughts. I guess I’m stuck feeling bad forever.
Answer: Actually, you CAN. And you DO, all the time. I can teach you how to do this with INTENTION, which is how you can create the emotions you WANT (and those that will move you forward) in your life.
Objection: I don’t WANT to change my thoughts because I don’t want tell myself lies just to feel good. I’d rather know the truth and be miserable.
Answer: I don’t want you to believe lies, either. But the TRUTH is that many, if not MOST, of the thoughts you think every day are actually PARTIALLY true at best, and flat-out false at worst. If you CHALLENGE your thinking, you can identify the thoughts that have no real basis in reality, and then you can change them to thoughts that serve you and your goals MUCH more effectively.
Objection: This is too difficult to think about. I’m uncomfortable. I quit.
Answer: You are free to do that! In fact, a break from all this reading is probably a good idea, as it can be a lot to absorb! But do keep in mind that everything worth doing is difficult at first, that difficult things strengthen us and make us better able to achieve our dreams, and that any time you are GROWING, it will be UNCOMFORTABLE.

ALL RIGHT, CUPCAKES

There are many, many more articles on this topic on my website (“Gathering Evidence for Your Beliefs” is a personal favorite). If you want to become the best version of yourself, these can be game-changers. Please check them out, and hit me up with questions and comments. I want to know where you’re coming from, so I can provide exactly what YOU need.

Now go get your sparkle on.

P.S. Some of you have very strong ideas about the source of happiness and well-being. As a person who believes in absolutes, I hear you. If you are a firm advocate that happiness comes from God alone or from focusing on helping others instead of yourself, I agree that you have strong evidence for those beliefs. But what I urge you to realize is that WITHOUT THOSE BELIEFS, THERE IS NO JOY. If I help people out of obligation and firmly believe that it will NOT, in fact, bring me joy, I WILL NOT EXPERIENCE ANY. My emotions will be those of bitterness and resentment. If I follow God’s laws in a quest to make sure that I am always right, but assume God is an impersonal and serious deity, then I may experience a great deal of satisfaction, but little in the way of warm fuzzies. There is a very real takeaway here: WHAT YOU BELIEVE MAY, IN FACT, BE ENTIRELY FALSE, BUT IT WILL STILL CREATE YOUR EMOTIONS AS THOUGH IT WERE TRUE. PERIOD. (As a side note, it is this very fact that makes presenting evidence and challenging beliefs so incredibly important. But that is a topic for another day!)

 

 

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