When I was a kid, I ruined Christmas for our neighbours’ kids.
You see, I had figured out or been told (I can’t remember which) that Santa wasn’t real, and I wanted to tell all of the other kids that they were believing fantasy. To my 6-year-old reason, I was doing everyone a favour by sharing the truth with them.
They didn’t believe me at first.
“But Mummy and Daddy say that he IS real! Mummy even said that she saw his sleigh in the garden one time.”
Ok, fair enough. But then I pointed out how it wouldn’t be possible for one fat dude with some flying cattle to visit every household in the world in one night. Not even factoring in cookie-eating time, it would be a logistical nightmare.
I guess they eventually believed me, because when they ran out of arguments, they ran away crying.
Their mother was quite upset and called my mum to tell her that I had spoiled Christmas for their kids, and they didn’t talk to us for a while.
It’s the same with adults. The content changes, but the context is still the same. Meaning, most adults don’t believe in Santa, but they do believe other fantasies.
When I first moved away from the Christian faith, I was a fairly outspoken atheist. The pendulum swung hard the other way. Christian friends would debate with me about the validity of stories in the Bible like walking on water, Noah’s ark, and resurrection. And I used my newfound scientific belief system to debunk them.
“But the Bible says it IS true! Noah gathered 2 of each kind of animals and put them on the ark.”
Like when I was 6, I made it my mission to point out all of the logistical flaws with that idea.
I’m not going to lie, it felt good. Lizard brain likes being the smartest one in the room.
But as strange as it may sound coming from someone who calls himself Truth-Injected Man, not all fantasies and stories are inherently bad.
Let me explain.
We all tell ourselves stories, all of the time. We have narratives about why we are rich, why we are poor, why we have good fortune, why we have bad fortune, why we are transcendent, and why we are victims.
Here’s the thing, though: 99% of them are LIES.
No, you didn’t get the last car park because you prayed harder to God than the others.
But you know what? If that makes you feel better, keep telling yourself that.
It only becomes a sickness when it results in you being violent towards yourself and others.
So if you are blaming your boss, your parents, your spouse or anyone else for the situation that you are in, you are being violent towards them by holding them accountable for things that they cannot change. More importantly, you are being violent towards yourself for not holding yourself accountable for things that you can change.
I am a huge believer in the ideology that your life at this point, whatver that may look like, is the result of the decisions that you have made up to this point. That includes what you choose to believe and repeat to yourself.
If you were born into a Western country where anyone can start a business, anyone can choose (basically) whatever career they want, anyone can better themselves, then you really have no one to blame but yourself if you are miserable with your life.
Sure, there are other factors that play a part. But I still think it’s about 80:20. You are firmly in the driver’s seat.
So stop telling yourself sick stories. They are diversions from your own accountability.
As Carl Jung, the great psychiatrist said:
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”
That includes telling yourself fictitious stories about how you are a powerless victim who is at the mercy of others.
And if you tell yourself that, if you put out that intent, that is what will manifest in your life.
The world is your mirror. It shows you your reflection. As above, so below. As below (your inner mind), so above (your outer life).
Almost all of the stories that we tell ourselves are based on labels. I’m a Christian, I’m a Muslim, I’m a New Zealander, I’m black, I’m white, I’m a democrat. They all limit your perspective as soon as you take them on.
Because as soon as you step outside of the ideological bars that your education, parents, biology and society place you in, you will get a lot of backlash.
Here’s one that I experienced about 6 months ago. I started debating people online about feminist ideas. Now, when I say feminism, I don’t mean the noble “equal opportunity, equal rights”. I mean the hysterical, misandrist, campus variety of feminism that holds its roots in (disputable) victimhood and fear, where the greatest enemies are manspreading, “micro-aggressions” and Milo .
I still don’t really understand the term “micro-aggressions”. It’s like saying something isn’t a big deal before you whinge about why it is a big deal. But I digress.
The argument that I was met with when I presented contrasting views to theirs was “stop mansplaining! You’re a privileged man, so you can’t have an opinion!”
Boom! I had stepped outside of the rules that society perpetuates through its story. You can’t have an opinion on X unless you meet these criteria, which are often biological.
And that is where those who are trapped in rigid beliefs miss the point. Rather than seeing an individual who has an idea that they are expressing, they see the biological labels of colour or gender, and invalidate your input on that basis if they don’t like your labels.
That’s right – I was “objectified” by feminists. Those who, on the surface, are fighting for equality and liberation from labels and standards.
The hypocrasy got too thick to breathe in the end, so I stopped wasting my time. But you can find massive ironies in nearly all belief systems that people identify with. How about staunch military supporters who genuinely believe “we’re going to war to fight for peace”?
It’s all labels and the stories that you tell yourself. Some are toxic, some are beneficial. Objectively ask yourself how your stories are working for you.
One writer whose blog I enjoy reading is James Altucher. He uses what he calls the Alien Technique, and tells himself that he is an alien who is sent to Earth from another galaxy.
Now, a lot of people would say that’s crazy.
But it’s not about scientific proof. Fuck the scientific proof!
It’s just a story. In the same way as you can watch a movie like Star Wars, without having an existential crisis that it is not a documentary, you can just enjoy the perspective that it offers. (Most) Star Wars fans don’t evangelize that Obe Wan was a real person and that Darth Vader has a death star and we should all panic.
Explore the story. See what perspectives it offers, but don’t be a “believer”. Don’t take on the label and all of the limitations that brings with it.
It could be revealed tomorrow that we were created by aliens as a slave race because they need… fear. Like Monsters Inc. or something. Be free enough in your ideology that you don’t attach to any one particular idea so much that it becomes immovable.
If the fantasy works for you, and you aren’t using it as a shield from personal accountability, by all means keep telling it to yourself. But don’t lose yourself in it by becoming identified by the label.
May the force be with you.