I want to share with you all a very personal story of mine. Please bear with me. I think this will be a short but to the point letter.
As many of you know, I’ve had a very tough couple of weeks. It’s been grueling actually. It threw me into a funk that was very difficult to get out of. I will tell you the story I’ve been spinning about myself:
“David, you suck as a person. You are a failure in helping others!”
This inner voice, this inner dialog and story, was confirmed by some unpleasant messages I had received. My own story and my fear of the stories circulating “out there” compounded to make me feel like I was a complete failure and that I should just give up and go back to being an artist only.
Then, the other night as I was just about to doze off to sleep, I heard the words, “David, self-pity is the greatest obstacle to your personal spiritual progress.” Now, some might say that was God, or the Universe, or the Great Spirit, or Spirit, or whatever. I might say that it was my deepest, truest, yet unconscious Self communicating to my conscious self. If we were to believe there is a God, I would suggest that this is the part of me that That-Which-We-Call-God would commune with and nurture towards spiritual health, wholeness, and independence. I bolted up in bed and wrote those words in my journal because I instinctively knew them to be true.
Even though on one level I despise pity, I’ve had to come to realize that on another level I cherish it. It’s delicious. Not only does it make my story feel validated, it also makes me feel soothed and comforted in it. We at TLS are really good at listening, validating, and comforting one another in our struggles. That’s awesome. But there’s more! There must be more.
I have also come to realize that my version of my story is not necessarily reality. I am discovering from brain science and psychoanalysis, which also agrees with philosophies like Buddhism, that me clinging to my version of my story, my attachment to certain thoughts or beliefs, or even any thought or belief, is the cause of suffering. My attachment to a thought is suffering. I had just read this the day before I heard the words above:
”Perhaps the most important revelation is precisely this: the the left cerebral hemisphere of humans is prone to fabricating verbal narratives that do not necessarily accord with the truth… The left brain weaves its story in order to convince itself and you that it is in full control… What is so adaptive about having what amounts to a spin doctor in the left brain? The interpreter is really trying to keep our personal story together. To do that, we have to learn to lie to ourselves.”
It was as if a pail of cold water had been thrown on me. I realized that I was clinging to a story about myself, that I was relishing a thought, and that it was causing me intense suffering. On the one hand, I want to stay attached to this story because it was evoking pity in myself and in others for me. On the other hand, I suddenly realized I simply could not continue in this vein because it would only perpetuate my suffering and therefore my need for pity. Pity can kill my motivation to move on.
It’s a vicious, circular trap… the more I pity myself, the more pity I get, the more I need to stay in my suffering, then the more I pity myself and the more pity I get. There would be no possible way out until… UNTIL… I realized that they this was all orbiting around a lie: a fabricated narrative that said I sucked as a person, and that I am a failure as someone trying to help others. It is a lie that I suck as a person. It is a lie that I do not help people. It is not true!
As soon as the center disappears… the lie… so does its gravitational pull, its orbit, and its planets: my need for self-pity and pity from others. They are flung into the furthest galaxies.
It’s not a one time magic disappearing show. When I am inundated with negative press every day, not only from my own false mind as well as from those who don’t respect me, it is a daily project for me. But it’s not too difficult. It’s just a matter of looking at these accusations and simply asking, “Is this true?” Is it really true? No, it’s not. It’s a lie.
This is what my progress looks like. It helps me escape from my victim mentality that would keep me bound in my own pity and the pity of others for the rest of my life. It helps me move on to really become healthy and independent. It helps me to become truly free. In fact, it sets me free to become a better person who truly helps others.
Thanks for listening, my friends.