Source: Evil will never tell you……
“Evil will never tell you how good you are, how strong you are, or what a difference you can make to improve the world. Evil despises your capacity to love, and your potential for good, which promotes hope, and being filled with love and hope makes you less likely to be controled by fear”
Stacey iBold Stibbards
Oh Sweets…Expose the lies! If you hear anything like this…those words should be under your feet not influencing your thoughts. Expose the lies! Your truth sets you free!
What to Do about what’s already IN?
OR I’ve stemmed the tide of crap. Now what?
OK, so you are sensitive to the lies coming at you. You see them as Demons or the result of Demons.
You hope that there is hope, which is all you need to start winning the battle.
You set up a Gatekeeper at your mind’s edge to stop the unbridled inflow of new lies. You evaluate more of what you hear and don’t accept it as truth without that evaluation.
You started to look at what YOU were saying about yourself; your own voice can curse you.
You’ve reduced the inflow of lies, but what about everything that was already IN? What about all the stuff that has gotten past the gate?
We’ve been looking primarily at the flow of stuff coming in, but you already have a lifetime of ‘stuff’ in your head from before we started filtering it better. We need to keep ‘preventing’ new stuff from coming in, while we start clearing out old stuff.
This ‘stuff’ what you’ve heard throughout your life, that you’ve ‘adopted’ as the truth about you. Either through repetition or through you repeating it, or it just feeling ‘right.’ You’ve not only let it in, but you’ve also let it ‘settle in’ and get comfortable. You’ve made peace with it and made it your own. You’ve adopted it and define yourself by it. These things can be good, or bad. It’s a double-edged sword. Like when we were setting up and reinforcing the Gatekeeper, we didn’t throw out everything; we evaluated it for truth and looked at the source. For the stuff that has embedded in you, there’s a similar approach available. It might be so deep, and so far back in time, that the source might be difficult to suss out; ‘I’ve always been bad at math.’ ‘I’ve always been a klutz.’ ‘I’ve always just fallen in with the wrong bunch of people.’ That’s OK, the source isn’t as important as the evaluation of truth.
I propose that you take a few moments to think through the characteristics that define you. Two lists; one that lists how you define yourself, and one in which you capture how you think other people define you.
If you are like me, you DID NOT make those two lists before continuing to read. No worries. I hate those kinds of ‘self-discovery’ exercises. I find them really awkward and full of pressure. I always get spun up trying to pick the perfect or most important example to work on first. So, let’s skip that. Pick anything you like, and the consequential the better. You don’t start learning auto mechanics on a race car. You start on something a little less complex.
For me, today, I’m going to use Photographer as my example. That actually took me a couple of minutes to get to, because I was trying to over think the meaning and implications of my selection. Duh. Exactly what I was suggesting that you NOT do. Then I looked up and saw a tripod I had set up for another project. Ding!
An example from my life
OK, to my mind, I’m a ‘wannabe’ photographer. I love taking pictures. I love the romance of film, and before switching to digital, I took it upon myself to preserve some old 35mm cameras. They were clunky and past their prime, but I just love the mechanics of them. So, I got basic 35mm equipment, then some more equipment. Then an antique medium format camera. But still, a wannabe photographer. I didn’t study to become better. I didn’t focus on it like a craft. I just did it. And so I got ‘functional’ but not ‘artistic.’ I know basic composition. I know exposures and depth of field. I know all the science and a little of the application. To me, I’m a wannabe photographer. To those around me that aren’t photographers, I’m a photographer. I’m knowledgeable. I take some good shots. I can help them figure out the settings on their camera. To a photographer, I don’t think I even rank as a ProSumer.
So, that’s the context of my ‘photographer’ label. Let’s dig into it together, about me, as a way to maybe see a way to dig into your stuff.
Clarifying the example – unpacking
I articulated that ‘wannabe’ photographer title like it was a statement of fact. It’s been reinforced into my thinking so deep and so long that it’s a ‘fact’ about me from my perspective. But is it ‘true’? I understand all the science and art in making a photo. I appreciate a good image and appreciate how difficult it really is to capture. I take some good shots, and I’ve taken some spectacular shots. So in reality, I’m probably better than ‘wannabe.’ So what gives? In an unguarded moment, I’ll admit that many times I’ll downplay my abilities so that I have an opportunity to surprise and exceed expectations. In a dark moment, I’ll hear the other voice in my ear whispering that I do that so that I don’t have any performance stress or obligation, and I don’t disappoint. I’d rather fail to impress than to disappoint. Because I have a Gatekeeper/filter installed to review those inbound comments, I have a way to take a close look at that voice, as we’ve discussed, and try to determine where it came from.
Let’s pause a moment and reflect…. I saw a tripod in the corner, thought through how that played in my life, and followed that line of thinking to what is potentially a big ‘root’ in my life. Your results may vary, but this kind of exploration and discovery frequently work out this way. My mental model of my photographic abilities is warped because of a long-term habit of self-deprecation. I can go about correcting the symptom, “wannabe photographer.” I can go after the root itself: “self-deprecation.” I’m going to chip away at the root by dealing with the symptom. I have identified a thing in my life that appears to be a lie that has crept in and taken up lodging. Let’s deal with it.
Steps to dig out the embedded ‘stuff’ in your life
Step 1 – Find evidence to both support and contradict what you are digging in to. You want both viewpoints, not just one sided. There’s probably a kernel of truth in the lie. If you avoid the stuff that supports the lie you are trying to refute, then down the road you’ll be hearing voices of doubt. That you ‘cheated’ to get free of the lie, and that it wasn’t a lie at all; it really was true. If you don’t look at the bad, but you know it exists, then you’ll face internal accusations of glossing over stuff and not dealing objectively. It’s just fodder for a ‘nagging doubt’ down the road. Deal with it upfront. For me, regarding photography, I merely gathered a bunch of sample photos. This got tremendously distracting as I had so much fun reliving the events and places.
Step 2 – Take a step back and look at the evidence as objectively as possible. Evaluate the evidence, and grade it or categorize it as “for” or “against.” This is where you might go back and apply some of your ‘filters’ from our ‘gatekeeper’ dialogue. As my wife would ask, ‘is that something God would say about me?’
Step 3 – Take a look at the standards against which you are measuring. Am I evaluating my work against that of a professional, or against that of a seasoned amateur? What is the ‘grading scale’? This is where I usually catch myself; I grade myself using a metric for a level of skill that I’m not trying to meet and coming up short. That revelation applies to more than just the photography thing, so I’ll tuck it away for use later when I’m digging in to the ‘self-deprecating’ thing.
Step 4 – Use all that evidence to refute that ‘embedded’ thing. Say it out loud a few times. “I’m a pretty good photographer” “I take some splendid photos” etc. Saying it, and hearing it, reinforces it. And that starts to push the lie out. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Step 5 – Expect the lie to try to ‘re-establish’ on occasion. It’ll try to present itself again as truth, bold as anything. You just need to call it out as rubbish and put truth back in its place.
Step 6 – That lie has been your ‘truth’ for so long it’s also a ‘habit.’ You’ll consider doing something and think, ‘I’d like to do that, but I’m only a wannabe photographer’….. It’s a habit that you’ve developed to decline to do something because of the lie. So even though the lie is out, the habit lingers. You have to bring your behavior and habits around to the new truth. “Well, of course, I’ll take photos at your wedding.”
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Like I said, “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.” You have a lifetime of stuff to dig out. Don’t try to boil the ocean and do it all at once. You’ll get tired and give up. What’s the best way to eat an elephant? With lots of Sonny’s Real Pit BBQ sauce, of course. Not sure how that analogy helped right there, but now I got a hankerin’.
You’ve slowed the flow of new stuff coming in. Now start digging out the lies that have set up shop, and defined you incorrectly. Then LIVE the new definition. If you’ve been told your entire life that you aren’t smart, but you really are, then correct that internally, and go DO smart. Smartly? Be Smartness? You get the picture. Because you and I are pretty good photographers.
What you say is tremendously important.
If you are playing along at home, we’ve been tackling a bunch of stuff to help kick 2017 off. As a quick review;
There are lies that have come at you and that you’ve adopted as your ‘truth’.
Those lies come at you from a bunch of different sources.
We have installed a ‘gatekeeper’ at the doorway of everything we hear, so we can check it before letting it in. This gives you a chance to examine all this stuff that is coming at you to split into ‘good’, ‘bad’, and ‘suspect’.
You’ve started to identify suspect ‘sources’ and are applying those filters based on a ‘source profile’.
Here’s the aha moment for the day: you yourself are a source that you’ve got to get under control. You have to monitor and evaluate what you hear from yourself, in your own voice, with as much vigor and intensity as you apply to all the other voices coming at you.
When you speak, you are speaking for someone else to hear. But guess what; you are listening in. And that is critical to understand. When you read something, one part of the brain ‘lights up’. When you hear something, another part of your brain fires up. You want to learn or understand something a new way; read out loud. My wife is amazing. She processes stuff by talking it out. If you are a fan of her videos, you’ll see sometimes that she’ll say something, and THEN process it, and understands it differently after hearing it spoken out loud. I can imagine the spark of a thousand connections in her eyes as she works through it. She formed the words, then she spoke them out. Then she heard them spoken, and understood them from a new perspective. And her insights, real time, are profound. I love watching her in action.
Scientifically, your brain processes words you hear differently; it ignites a different part of the brain. When you hear something spoken, it ignites a new set of thoughts, and new sets of neurons.
So, if you are a source, aren’t your words always ‘safe’?
Not in the least. Many times the harshest things I’ve ever heard about myself are in my voice. I’m frequently own worst critic, and I have a tendency to not cut myself slack. But that’s me; you might be drawn differently. For me; it’s a constant challenge. What’s worse, and is common for both you and I, is that your gatekeeper recognizes your voice, and lets what is said waltz right in; the ‘filter’ will default to allow stuff spoken in your voice ‘through’.
Here’s where you HAVE to be really dedicated at applying that filter. It’s tough to reign in sometimes; the words come spilling out before you have a chance to check them. But If you can’t stop yourself from saying them out loud, you HAVE to take a moment after hearing them to see if they hold water. It sounds weird, but you’ll get the hang of it.
I’m personally trying to get better at not saying this stuff about myself in the first place, but I’m a work in progress. Somedays, i don’t progress. My wife will say something positive and encouraging, and I’ll find some way to twist it to be negative and a false compliment, and throw it back at her like that was how she really meant it. You’ve seen me do it; ‘You did that well’ gets turned in to ‘surprised aren’t you? Cause I normally mess it up’.
Your brain hears what you speak, and processes it. Here’s the magical, and insidious, thing about our brains. It ‘maps’ what it hears, sees, thinks, etc. Those are memories. Repeat the event, and that pattern gets reinforced a little. Repeat something over and over, and it is ‘memorized’ and you don’t have to think about the words to the song, or the chords. You just know them. Well, the same holds true with the lies coming at you. You hear them over and over, and they reinforce themselves, and get printed on you. At some point, even if you KNOW it isn’t true, you adopt that lie as your own, and then it becomes your truth in a way. I know this woman. (Married her in fact) She was a wicked smart kid, but different. She was told over and over again that she was stupid. Eventually, she started to adopt that mindset in some situations, and would ‘agree’ she couldn’t do something. (What’s amazing about my wife is that she fought back. Where the school system failed her, she taught herself grammar and English, and everything else she needed to get through school, with little help from educators who were inconvenienced by her different learning style.) If you hear something often enough, you’ll start to believe it. If you are the one saying it, that ‘adoption’ happens even faster. That is your brain hearing and reinforcing something that it has heard, eh. We’ve all seen it in action, I’m sure.
You have to filter what you say, ideally before you even say it. But if not, then for sure before you hear it and accept it BACK IN. That will feel pretty ‘disconnected’ the first couple of times you consciously reject something you just said. (Also, it might earn you some strange looks from dining companions it you have a discussion with yourself about it. You’ve been warned.)
When you stop something you’ve said from coming back in, and you tag it as ‘suspect’, it might also be a good time to pause and consider where that lie actually came from. It’s “root” so to speak. Was it something you’ve heard over and over, so you are repeating it? That is like an embedded lie that you have to dig out. We’ll get to that in a couple of posts. Is it something completely new and out of the blue? That’s how they start; unexpected and small. We’ll get to that in the Next post. Was it something Crazy Aunt Louise said about you all the time? Might just be jealousy talking.
What you say has easy access back in to your brain when you hear it spoken out loud. You have to review what you say with as much, if not more, attention as you do what other people speak.
You need a Gatekeeper.
We’ve established that there are things that you believe in your life that are lies. They have come at you like demons. They were introduced into your life by experience or by people and are not true. Sometimes this was done innocently or unintentionally, but sometimes it was meant to hurt you and steal from your future. (Remember, some of these are like demons, eh) But we also discussed that there’s hope, and that truth is out there waiting to be discovered.
Where do you start?
Start here: Reduce or remove lies coming in
If you came across someone hurt in an accident, you stop the bleeding first, so they don’t get worse, THEN they can move on to healing. That approach is exactly what I propose we do about these lies; let’s reduce the inflow of disinformation, then we can start to deal with what is already ‘there.’ We have to reduce the new lies coming into our lives first, and THEN start getting rid of the ones that are there. Otherwise, it’d be like we’re bailing out a ship with huge holes in the hull; we’re fighting a losing battle. We’ve got to get the odds in our favour. We close down some holes in the hull; THEN we can start bailing.
Here’s the problem, though; you can’t just shut off all ‘input.’ We are barraged by more information and feedback than at any time in human history. Stuff, both good and bad, comes at you all day from many sources. We get fed stuff by the real news, the fake news, the internets, the “twimblebook”, as well as the people around us. I’m not proposing that we stop all input; that would start to turn us into a hermit and sociopath. (OK, I know my ‘holes in the hull of the boat’ analogy just fell apart; obviously NO holes in the boat would be a good thing. But try to keep up)
If we don’t want to stop everything coming in because some of it is good, then what do we do?
We examine it as it arrives, and filter stuff out. What does that mean? It means that you don’t just let every comment, observation, or statement ‘IN.’ It means that you acknowledge it, but then hold it up for examination before you accept it. Even the Bible says we are to ‘Take every thought captive.’ So take every thought captive for a moment of further reflection.
You take a look at the actual content. You think through the evidence for that statement. You think through the evidence against that statement. You think about the context. And you especially consider the source and the intention. If you hear, ‘You are lazy’, you have to look at the evidence ‘for’ and ‘against’ that accusation, as well as who said it, why, and why they said it.
That’s a lot to digest, so let’s unpack it;
Evidence ‘for’ and ‘against’
Is there ANY truth to what they said? Is there a perspective in which it’s true? What is their perspective?
Who said it? As you start this exercise, try to keep track of how you assess the different sources in your life. Over time you’ll start to see a pattern of what sources are typically accurate, and which are not. You can use that ‘pattern’ information later. As difficult as it may be to accept, there are people in your life that are just not FOR you. They talk you down. They don’t want the best for you. Some people are just plain mean or mean spirited. (Crazy Aunt Louise; we’re talking about you.)
Why they said it? What is their perspective? Perhaps they have a different way to look at it, or it impacts them differently.
What was their intention? Sometimes you have to step back and ask yourself, ‘why would they have said such a thing?’ Were they trying to hurt my feelings? Or were they lashing out because they misunderstood me?
My wife has developed an interesting approach that usually works for her, and I admire it. She holds up this ‘nugget’ of a comment or conversation, and asks herself, ‘Is that something that God would say to me or about me?’. It’s a simple metric or comparison: it sets the bar high and is pretty easy to evaluate.
Over time, if you keep exercising this ‘evaluate what comes at you’ strategy, your criteria will mature and become easier to apply. When you think about it, you have a filter right now that you use all the time. Some call it a ‘bullshit’ meter. Some call it ‘intuition.’ I’m saying, you probably have a sense when you hear an outright boldfaced lie. What I’m proposing is that you work to make that evaluation more purposeful, and start keeping track of sources in your life.
I’m also proposing that you do one more simple thing, though. (But sometimes the simple things are the toughest.) After you have intercepted this ‘nugget’ of a comment and stopped it at the door….. after you have looked at it from a couple of different directions and determined that it is not true….. then you have to reject it. I know that sounds obvious, but it doesn’t always happen. You get hit with something, and you say, ‘that’s doesn’t sound right,’ but you tuck it in your back pocket and carry it around with you anyway.
You don’t have the need, the time or the strength it takes to carry all the baggage around with you that people hand you to carry. You gotta decide what is yours and put down all the rest.
No matter what criteria YOU develop to evaluate what is coming at you,
If the comment fails your evaluation, then don’t let it come home to roost. Kick it out, and say, ‘I reject that.’ You can say it to yourself, or in some situations, it might be good to say it out loud in the liar’s face. (more about when to be rude in a sec) Stand by your evidence; it’s your decision to adopt their opinion or not.
Their side of things
Those spoken lies coming at you are spoken by a voice. That voice is coming from a person. Now, it could be an innocent misunderstanding. That can and does happen all the time, from my experience. Let’s set that situation aside for just a moment. Remember that the person speaking this lie AT you is dealing with their OWN set of lies in their life, and demons speaking into their lives. I’m just saying, sometimes Crazy Aunt Louise believes what she just said because of the lies in her life, and sometimes it’s something she is just now hearing in her own head. THAT would be a demon talking to her, and she’s just giving it a voice and passing on the message. That sounds a little weird, perhaps. But give it a moment to sink in, and reflect on it. I bet you can remember situations where this would explain a lot. (also, if you are hearing in the back of your head right now, “That’s crazy! This is nuts!” well, that could be the voice of a scared demon worried you are about to shine a light on his existence. Remember the sound of that voice for later.)
So… lots of input coming at you from lots of sources. You’ve got to ‘stem the tide’ by applying a filter (evaluate and trash) to what you hear, so you slow down lies piling up on your life. As we work to remove these lies that are already IN, we don’t want new ones to take their place. This filter will help keep the freshly removed from being replaced by a new lie.
As stuff hits your filter, you’ll do one of three things. One, you’ll reject it. Two, you’ll accept it as ‘TRUE,’ or Three, you’ll accept it as ‘SUSPECT.’ The ‘SUSPECT’ items are like a conditional pass. You’ll assume they are true while you are trying to gain more evidence.
This filter type activity will become more mature very quickly. You’ll start by applying it to everything, from every source. I know it sounds weird, but until you get your guard up, you don’t want to trust ANY source. I know you love your sister, but scrutinize what she says for a while and see if it holds up. You have to exercise this filter like it’s a muscle. Practice with it. Apply it even after you’ve forgotten about it. Come back to conversations after the fact and think through what you heard. As you do this, you’ll get better and more comfortable doing it.
Until then, don’t stress out. Everything you prevent from coming in, or tag as ‘SUSPECT’ is a reduction in what you have to deal with down the road. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be an improvement.
Consider this; you are beefing up the “Gatekeeper” that intercepts things as they come in. You have these ‘gatekeeper’ type things in other areas in your life that are special or important. Anti-virus software on your computer. The doorman in your lobby. The door lock and deadbolt on your front door. You pay to preserve the sanctity of the thing behind those gatekeepers. You pay to put another set of ‘eyes’ on things before letting them in. Think of your mental gatekeeper/filter as the little eyehole thingy that lets you look through your hotel door to see who is knocking. (Only, you still can’t trust the guy that looks like a bellhop. Lol.) All I’m saying is that you should apply as much time on your mental filter as you do on your door locks and antivirus.
You will apply this filter to each and every statement or comment coming at you right now. You should apply it to everything you read in this blog. I might be full of crap. As you do this, you might identify a source that becomes more and more suspect. If you have a source in your life that is repeatedly ‘rejected’ or ‘suspect’ with their content, you can start assuming that what they say is bad until you prove its worth. If you can’t avoid the source and remove them from your life, at least you know how to set the ‘default’ for the filter when dealing with them. ‘If it’s from crazy uncle George, then it’s probably a reject’ saves you a ton of stress in the moment.
There are lies in your life, in what you believe.
These lies come at you like demons.
There is a hope.
Starts by improving the ‘Gatekeeper’ you have set up to intercept stuff coming at you; Make this more purposeful and thoughtful.
Pay attention to the source.
Mature the ‘filter criteria.’ (is that something God would say about me?)
There are Demons that come at you as lies.
Lies come at you looking to make a comfortable new home all day, every day.
You’ve gotta protect yourself (we’ll get to that next), and
you’ve gotta clear house (we’ll get to that next after next)
But first I wanted to pause a moment to talk through what some of those lies actually look like. I’ve posted artwork that fairly represents what I think is going on. . . You, all alone, with this horrible ugly thing speaking into your ear. The voice might not sound ugly: it could sound like you, or your mom, an aunty, or a teacher, or a complete stranger you overheard at the store. You hear this whisper, and you start to believe it and start to make it your own. Perhaps you start to use it to define your yourself, as others are using it to define you. You start to use it to explain and justify your limitations. “I’m not that smart, I can’t do that math.” Or “I’m not handsome enough to be attractive to that kinda gal.”
They are accusations, or even sound like a ‘statement of fact.’
Sometimes they come with absolutely nothing to back them up. . . completely out of the blue.
Sometimes they have a hint of truth, and that allows it to sting or stick.
Sometimes it’s the complete opposite of what is true, but it works to break down what you thought was solid. ‘You are such a fat cow’’ when in fact you are fit and healthy.
Sometimes it’s a suggestion to take action. . . ‘You should just kill yourself; it would be a relief for your family.’
I attached a couple of pieces of artwork to the post to make my points here. (Please read the backstory later in the post for info about the artist.) The first piece shows a girl and a demon whispering in her ear. The lies floating around her are examples of the words and attacks that are coming at her. I think the position of the demon, kinda over and to the side, is spot on. It can come along side, weigh you down, whisper in your ear.
“No one likes you”, “Loser”, “Weirdo”, “Friendless”, “Pig”, “Stupid”.
The lies can take on a lot of forms, and we’ll dig into some specific examples in the next couple of posts.
But I don’t want to focus just on the lies today. I want to call out the fact that there is a HOPE that is so much bigger than the lies. There is a way through all this, no matter where you find yourself. There is a light that sends all the darkness fleeing.
I want to introduce the second piece of art I posted. This one fairly represents the feeling of ‘lightness’ that comes when the weight of the world is lifted off your shoulders. That lightness feeds on itself; when you dissolve one lie you get more confidence in going after the next one, which makes that next success more likely, and so on. You get lighter and lighter, just like you can get darker and darker if you let the lies pile on. You are never static and constant; you are either “moving” lighter or darker with every step taken and word spoken.
This second drawing is ‘hope and positive.’ It is possible. I’ve been there, and it’s nice. Am I there all the time? No. But I know I’ll get back there soon, and I’m leaving breadcrumbs and taking notes so I can help other folks get there with me. I’ll share what I know.
I know how that return journey starts;
It’s a simple step; believe that there is hope.
Hope that the future looks better than the present.
Hope that the situation isn’t as bad as it seems right now.
Hope that YOU aren’t as bad as you seem right now.
Hope that there are love and kindness in the air around you, waiting for you to breath it in.
All it takes is being open to the possibility of there being hope.
If you have that hope as a possible bright spot, then you have enough to take the next step.
We can start to dig in to what you hear and what you believe, and we shall build a way to inspect, and reconstruct, from the foundation up.
Today – imagine the hope, and remind yourself that lies are lurking, waiting to be discovered and set right.
Behind the Scenes
My daughter came to me one day and said, “I drew this after listening to some of the stuff you guys were recording. This is the picture I saw, and then I spent a while on the internet coming up with all the words and phrases. Now I feel kinda icky. So, yeah.”
We were startled. (and happy that the stuff she wrote wasn’t her own, but rather off the Internet) and we asked her to do a follow-up image that shows the positive side of things.
I would have selected these pieces to represent my point, even if I did not know the artist. I’m not bragging when I say that. (I AM bragging when I say, ‘OMGosh, she’s an amazing artist. And have you seen her latest piece? Here, I’ve got a picture…..’)
Can’t help it. I’m a proud parent. It’s what we do.