Making movies in our head is harmful — And how to build healthier relationships
We all make movies in our head. It is important to acknowledge they are a consequence of how we want the world to be. We can then progress towards both building healthier relationships and experiencing balance and peace of mind.
Have you ever watched Scrubs? If not, I definitely suggest that you give it a try. Scrubs is one of those amazing pieces of art that can make you think and sink in a soothing bath of acceptance and understanding of the dynamics of life. Almost every episode contains some food for thought that can be analyzed during hours of coaching. If carefully assumed, Scrubs can induce behavioural changes, outbursts of laughter and general well being.
One of the most recurring fun moments is the daydreaming of the characters. The mind wandering element is explicit. The audience knows what’s going on in a character’s mind. Sometimes, even the other characters can predict what the mental trip is about, representing the strong connection between the characters. This particular element made me think. What if we could achieve the same kind of connection in real life and be able to predict what’s going on in someone else’s mind? Yes, it would probably be creepy and a huge violation of privacy, but my point is that if for a moment we assume that our deepest thoughts would be available to our interlocutors then they would be available to us too.
In this scenario, can you imagine how it would be to build a relationship where the reasons of our excitement, sadness, and all the other emotions were available to a restricted audience? Wouldn’t it be awesome to be surprised by the real reasons according to which we act? We spend years talking to friends, colleagues, family members, psychologists and coaches in order to understand why we do what we do. In my thought experiment, we would skip years of emotional pain and hard thinking by just looking at what our mind is processing in its depths.
I want to focus the attention on a particular aspect of our life, the little lies we tell on a daily basis. For instance, when we struggle to find a socially accepted excuse for not attending a party or when we try to sound convincing when we reply “I’m fine, thanks” while we don’t feel fine at all. The same little lies that if summed up can turn a balanced person into a depressed one, just to give an example. These lies seem very innocent, but they are vicious and dangerous. They are the reason why we don’t recognize ourselves anymore. We look at how we evolved and we find out that we are now scared, confused and with apparently no tools to get through the meaningless job or the sick relationship. When did we start changing? And why are we lying?
We spend years talking to friends, colleagues, family members, psychologists and coaches in order to understand why we do what we do.
In my imaginary scenario, everything would be clear to us because our mind would reveal its deepest secrets. Unfortunately, we still have to spend quite some time talking to friends, colleagues, family members, psychologists and coaches to understand why we decide to go for those “harmless” lies.
Well, here is a shortcut. We lie because we want to make sense of the world in our own way. We have been told that we can be happy 24/7 and we constantly try to achieve the ultimate of all the goals, happiness. I promised you a shortcut, and here it is. We are wrong. I know it and you know it. We intimately know that it’s impossible to live in a constant state of happiness. Nonetheless, we still try, don’t we? And that’s where things get complicated. We still want to believe in a world with a 24/7 happiness and we create our version of that world in our mind. When this version is compared to what really happens around us, the clash occurs.
The mental version of the world and its real version are often not in line. Then we have two possible choices.
- First option: we surrender to the evidence admitting that we were wrong and facing the reality of the facts.
- Second option: we decide to stick with the hope that reality can still be bent to fit our mental version of the world.
Unfortunately for us, reality cannot be manipulated. The second option makes lies beginning to stir in the back of our minds in a desperate attempt to bend reality to match our mental version of the world. The lies take shape until we finally tell them, imprinting them in our synapses. What is left is the illusion that if we stick with a lie the reality will eventually be shaped as we want. What really happens is that we keep lying to ourselves and to the people we love, making our life miserable and empty.
These lies seem very innocent, but they are vicious and dangerous. They are the reason why we don’t recognize ourselves anymore.
In other words, we make movies in our head where we have free access to unlimited happiness. These movies don’t match reality. If we decide to be stubborn and stick with the lies, we end up living in our head, feeling miserable and disconnected from ourselves and the people we love.
After years of living lies, some people realize that they can’t take it any more. They start a healing process that can last several months. The sooner we decide that enough is enough, the better. Now, we can talk for hours about how to go through the healing process, but I want to keep this post reasonably long and practical.
There is only one thing that can trigger a huge change, stop lying! Stop telling yourself that the person who is betraying your trust can still be your friend or your partner. Stop telling that the job you have pays the bills and that’s what it counts while you are dying inside. Stop hurting people pretending that you are just kidding and they are too sensitive. Stop making other people responsible for your anger, stress and incapacity to commit in a healthy relationship when you can’t set your boundaries. Stop saying that you can’t change, that that’s the way you are while you long for starting from scratch.
What we can do is to be mindful, recognizing when our mental version of the world drifts apart from reality and just revealing the scenarios that we have in mind.
My “stop lying” suggestion is harsh, I know, but it is necessary to give a new perspective to our actions. Another way to look at the same suggestion is “start being aware of your lies”. There is no shame in admiting to have lied. There is no weakness in showing how much we want to be fulfilled. It is healthy to want to improve our life. It is shortsighted to choose what seems to be the easiest way today because it will definitely be our biggest drawback in the long run.
Even though it would be awesome to be part of the Scrubs universe, we have to face the fact that we can’t read each other mind. What we can do is to be mindful, recognizing when our mental version of the world drifts apart from reality and just revealing the scenarios that we have in mind. This will pave the way to a more honest and engaging conversation with ourselves and others, resulting in truly connected relationships.
Originally published at www.yougrowwegrow.net