One of my favorite movies is The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey. It’s the story of an insurance salesman who realizes that his life is a lie and everything and everyone he knows is fake. It’s a popular storyline: Brokeback Mountain, The Matrix and Fight Club are all about people living a lie. These stories resonate with audiences because deep down we are all liars, even you.
Are You Living a Lie?
We are talking about lying as is in not accepting reality. For example, let’s say you are married to someone you don’t like. There were signs you didn’t like this person before you got married, but you really wanted to be married, you were excited for the wedding and now you guys are having a kid. What do you do?
If you’re like most people, you will lie to yourself. Denial is powerful and gets us out of unpleasant situations. However, it is also quite stressful. Lying for long periods of time leads to chronic stress which wreaks havoc on the body. This then paves the way to poor life decisions such as affairs, substance abuse or credit card debt. That said, if given the choice, most people would still choose to lie instead of telling themselves the truth.
Why We Lie
One reason we lie to ourselves is because society requires us to play roles. For instance, we have the role of mom, dad, teacher, the “nice” guy, the “sexy” girl, the CEO, the celebrity, the doctor and so on. These roles are introduced to us when we’re young and become embedded in our psyches. Many people believe these roles are their only options for who they can become so once they select a role, they will do anything to make it seem real.
It’s total bullshit. Human beings are not items on a shelf. We are complex, complicated creatures that morph and mutate every hour. None of us know who we really are or what we are doing so we lie to ourselves to preserve the lie we have chosen.
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How to Tell the Truth
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to play a role. In fact, if you’re smart, you will reject all roles except the one that says you are an evolving human being that cannot be labeled and put in a box. You are committed to observing the world around you and adjusting as needed. Follow these steps to start telling the truth:
Step One: Face the Facts
Step one is the hardest. All you have to do is tell yourself how you feel about yourself, your life and the world around you. It sounds easy but this could take several days, weeks, months or even years to complete. If you’re ready, grab a notepad or laptop and answer the following questions to get started:
- Does your life match the expectations you had for your life?
- Do you like who you are?
- How often do you talk about your dreams and ambitions for the future?
- Are you actively pursuing your dreams?
- Do you like the people you surround yourself with?
- Do you enjoy life and find it a pleasant experience?
- Is there a point in the future that you are living for? What is it?
- Are your days filled with curiosity, joy, and satisfaction? Or are they a grind?
- Are your problems your own or caused by others?
- How well do you express your feelings?
- Do you suppress emotions? If so, do you know why?
Step Two: Express Yourself
Once you explored your thoughts and feelings, the next step is to express them to the people in your life that matter. The more you share with someone, the more intimacy and true connection you will have. Remember that intimacy doesn’t exist without vulnerability. Also keep in mind that you are not the only one to benefit from your honesty. Your wife, mother, sister, business partner or friend will also benefit because your bravery might inspire them to be brave and be honest with themselves.
Step Three: Demythologizing Yourself
Not everyone reaches step three. The idea in step three is to release your ego and detach from the identity you cultivated for yourself. People get stuck in lies because they selected who to be and when things went wrong, it is too difficult or scary to release that version of self (ego) and take the steps necessary to start over.
For example, I once sat next to a man on a flight who was a lawyer for 15 years and said he was miserable every second at work for 15 years. He had quit the month before we met and was starting a world tour, beginning in South America. When I asked him why he didn’t quit sooner, he gave me a list of reasons but ultimately agreed he didn’t quit because he couldn’t let go of his ego (chosen identity).
Where you were born and the color of your eyes will never change, but you’d be surprised by how much of “who you are” is a belief held in your head. If you can internalize that “you” are as ephemeral as the wind, life will present ideas and opportunities that you never could have imagined.
Related Reading: How to Connect with Spirit Guides
Truth is Power
To conclude, anyone who does make it to step three doesn’t stay there long. Identity and ego are what make the human experience so special and give us purpose. Do cows walk around thinking about who to be in life? Of course not, they stand in fields then die.
However, I wrote this article because there is a tipping point that is so relatable that Hollywood turns it into movie blockbusters. Don’t become so attached to the role you selected that you forget you chose that role and that you can change it at any time. To assess your situation, I recommend following at least the two steps outlined above. You don’t have to move past step one, but at least complete that step and be honest with yourself. If you move on to step two, the more power to you. If you make it to step three, amazing (!) but remember that you are human and will slip into a place where you’ll have to start anew at step one. Good luck and embrace this beautiful cycle of life 🙂