Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, March 27, 2020! This is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
We are being fed so much Fake News it’s hard to know who to believe and what to do! With all the many differing opinions about any given topic, who can we trust? One news source says this, another news source says that. It’s so confusing.
But the media Fake News is not what I’m concerned about, nor is it what I’m writing about today. I’m more concerned about the Fake News that’s continually (re)circulating in our very own mind. Yes, I’m talking about all the stories that we tell ourselves that seem so compelling that we believe it to be an accurate assessment of reality!
One of the biggest problems that we face today is that we tend to believe everything we think – “I think it, therefore it’s true.” And why wouldn’t we believe the thoughts and stories flowing through our mind? Our mind tells us that we have all the confirmation we need. We have supporting evidence from direct experience.
Why would we create and ruminate on stories about how the world operates that we know aren’t true? We believe that our assessment of what’s happening, whatever it is, is true and accurate. Yet, how many times have we been wrong?
There are 7.7 billion people on this planet and most of us tend to believe that we have it all figured out. Hmmm. Unlikely.
I could go on and on about our personal assessment of how the world works or how we think the world should work. But this isn’t what I want to focus on either. There is a deeper level of Fake News that seems to influence all our other beliefs: the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves. This Fake News starts within.
I get to open up a little more here and tell you what I’m really like! I sometimes gack on vulnerability and authenticity. But allowing ourselves to be seen is where we discover freedom. I’d much rather paint an idealized picture of myself as some flawless human being, always happy and compassionate, altruistic and, of course, humble. I’ve tried some version of this fanciful story most my life! From my own experience, I can tell you that it leads only to fear and anxiety. Worst of all, people see right through this fantasy – then we tend to feel even more insecure.
I’ve recently been overwhelmed by insecurity!
I’ve written a lot about insecurity and I may have even said that I am an insecure person. Who am I kidding…of course I have! I say it all the time. But is this Fake News? Yes! If I honestly look back on my life, there have been many times when I was completely secure with whatever I was doing in that moment.
Most of the time, not all, but most of the time when I facilitate a meditation, I feel completely comfortable and confident. Until COVID-19, I had the blessed opportunity to lead a weekly meditation group at an assisted living facility, the Corvallis Caring Place. I miss them! I can’t recall even once when I arrived or left feeling insecure. I can say with certainty that pretty much every time I press “send” when I email these Weekly Mindfulness Support letters out to you, there is a feeling of insecurity. I know why I have this feeling! I have it because instead of trying to be helpful, I’m trying to impress you. Or, I’m afraid that you are going to catch me not practicing what I preach; not being mindful; not being caring or compassionate; that you’ll see me forget something; that you’ll find grammatical mistakes; that I’m not perfect.
These insecure feelings that I have are real, but they are not true.
I am not an insecure person; I occasionally experience feeling insecure. I am learning that these feelings of insecurity and shame and low self-worth are real, I feel them in my body. I am learning that the associated thoughts are real. But what I am just meow starting to understand and embody is that the stories that I tell myself about these compelling feelings and thoughts are indeed, Fake News. Feelings of insecurity are a normal human experience that arise when the conditions are ripe. When I actually believe a ridiculous story about how I should be some impeccable sage, free from the flaws that make us so beautfully human, I create the conditions for insecurity to arise – self-induced suffering!
The Fake News that I keep (over and over and over) telling myself is that I should be something more than I am, in this moment. When I do this to myself, of course I’m going to feel insecure, ashamed and have an overpowering sense of low self-worth. There is no way I could ever live up to my own unrealistic expectations.
My mindfulness practice and working with my spiritual friend has helped me to recognize that my thoughts are just thoughts and my feelings are just feelings; they have no substance. Nevertheless, when I’m hooked, I believe these thoughts and feelings to be a true and accurate reflection of reality. When I’m mindfully aware that I am simply experiencing these difficult feelings and thoughts, it provides me with an enlightening opportunity to explore and discover the ‘true’ causes and conditions for their manifestation.
In applying this wisdom to others and our media, we might be able to have some compassion and a better understanding of why we are fed so much Fake News…
I love you and there isn’t a thing you can do about it!
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