One of the things that separates humans from other creatures in the animal kingdom is that we can think about ourselves as selves. As a matter of fact, I often refer to myself directly with statements such as, “Self, you need to get out of bed.” or “Self, is that cupcake really worth it?” Generally, this ability comes in handy. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to our self awareness and that is our inner voices insistence on making us miserable.
I was reading a really old O magazine at the gym the other day and I came across this quote from Byron Katie:
All the suffering in our minds is not reality, it’s just a story we torture ourselves with.
Some suffering is created by outside forces – job layoffs, war, illness, violent storms, etc. We’ll call this “Actual Factual Suffering.” However, most of our daily suffering comes from the little voice in our head telling us that we, like Wayne and Garth, just aren’t worthy. I’m going to call this “Perceived Suffering.” It’s that constant monologue filled with negative comments, regrets, insults, and fears that we all have in our mind. People who have gone through big Actual Factual Suffering experiences generally come out of them with a new found ability to ignore or at least lessen their Perceived Suffering. They no longer sweat the small stuff as much as they did before. This is because they’ve gone through hell and back again and discovered that it ain’t easy, but it’s survivable. The story of their lives was briefly rewritten for them but they’ve discovered they still have control over the coming chapters.
If we’ve been lucky enough not to have those experiences to force us into, how do we get to to that epiphany? Think about the quote again: All the suffering in our minds is not reality, it’s just a story we torture ourselves with.
If it’s all a story, we have the power to rewrite it. We simply have to recognize that our reality, just like any “Reality” TV show, can be edited to express whatever we want it to. So find your script and start mentally cutting and pasting your way to a happy ending.