The Illusions In The Stories We Tell OurselvesWe have a beautiful selection of books, Click Here for our library 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

We all have stories that we tell ourselves about our lives. Stories about what we want for the future, stories about what kind of parent or spouse we want to be. There are stories about how we look at ourselves. Stories about what we think of others.

These stories, when we believe in them, can dictate the way we think about life, others and ourselves. We tell ourselves these stories so many times that they become beliefs and habits, whether they’re true or not.

Let’s take a look at some of these stories, and the illusions that live within them.

I have lived with severe anxiety for years. Anxiety, in its normal function, is not a bad thing. It’s designed as a sort of alarm system for the human body. It alerts us when danger is near. But when someone suffers from excessive, generalised anxiety, our response to anxiety can become problematic.

We end up feeling like we are in constant danger. Waiting for the next thing to go wrong. Everything that causes us anxiety feels like it has the potential to be the event that brings our world to an end.

Paying a bill a couple of days late is not going to single-handedly ruin our credit. Sending our kids to school in ratty clothes is not going to cause the school to call child services on us. We are not going to get in trouble with the local authorities if we don’t mow the lawn for a couple of weeks. These things all sound silly, but they are all real fears I’ve experienced in my struggles with anxiety. My belief in the anxiety being a signal of danger has caused me to believe that all sorts of terrible illusions were true.

Another illusion that has always sucked me in is the illusion of perfectionism. I’ve always felt that I should be perfect in everything I do. Many people are perfectionists and believe that things have to be just so. When we believe that we need to be the perfect parent, perfect spouse or perfect employee, we set ourselves up for constant failure.

The illusion of perfectionism draws us in by letting us believe we can attain the ideal. But it constantly defeats us because it is an impossible goal to reach. Continued belief in this kind of illusion can wear down our self-esteem and our belief in ourselves.

This happened to me. Because I held onto perfectionist ideas for so long, my image of myself eroded and eroded until I thought I was worthless. The story I was telling myself started out as believing in myself so much that I expected myself to be perfect. It ended in failure after failure and my believing I couldn’t do anything. It’s only been by failing, and failing big, that I’ve learned to see some value in myself – and the value of failing.

The stories we tell ourselves can lead to harm, and not just the self-harm I was describing above. If we have illusions about a relationship with an abusive partner, we can be setting up our own trouble.

We can tell ourselves that we deserve the abuse we receive, that our abuser loves us and doesn’t mean to cause us harm, that it’s the drugs or alcohol that make our abuser do it, but these stories are all just illusions.

Whether abuse is mental or physical, we are being harmed. The stories we tell ourselves about it don’t just allow it to happen, but can sometimes even encourage the abuse. We buy into these illusions that just aren’t true and in doing so, we give an implicit permission to our abuser to continue on with this harmful behaviour.

It can be very difficult to see the illusions in the stories we tell ourselves. Sometimes it can be hard to even see the stories we tell ourselves. We have lived them and believed them for so long, it’s hard to believe that anything else could be the truth.

The best thing we can do to begin breaking these stories and illusions down is to take a partner we can trust. Whether it’s a spouse, a good friend, a member of the clergy or a licensed therapist we need someone we can talk to about what’s going on in our lives.

We need to listen to the questions that they ask us and we need to answer them honestly. We need them to be someone who is going to answer us truthfully, no matter how much what they say might hurt. We need someone who can help us open ours eyes.

Seeing ourselves as we really are is of critical importance. It’s then that we can start to separate ourselves from our stories and our illusions. Being able to see our true selves allows us to start peeling back the layers of story and illusions that we’ve surrounded ourselves with for so long.

As we take away the stories we can begin to see the real issues that are facing us – mental health conditions, expectations or abuse. Seeing these issues clearly will let us take action and give us choice. And we can choose to do things that will help us live healthy and productive lives.

This is not a fast or easy process, but for many of us, it is a necessary one. In order to live a whole life, a healthy life, a joyful life, we need to peel away the layers of stories and illusions with which we have surrounded ourselves.

Letting go of these beliefs can be a gut-wrenching, painful process. It won’t feel right as we start to shift our perspectives from old to new. But it is a process we need to go through in order to be happy and healthy. We need to find our true selves.

When we find our true selves, then we will be free. Free from the burdens of stories and illusions, free to be happy and healthy, free to make choices about the lives we want to lead for ourselves.

Jason Large

Daily Zen

Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He can be contacted at:

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