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?)