I’d like to begin by acknowledging that the home in which I sit writing this post is situated on the Treaty 13 (Toronto Purchase) territories of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabewaki, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Mississauga, and Wendake-Nionwentsïo Nations.
It’s a start.
But it’s not the whole action.
For the last few months I’ve been going on about how fucked the system is. Never has that been more evident than in the past several weeks of unearthing the literal remains of the genocide upon which this country was built. A great reckoning is upon us. And...as with everything, what is true for the macro is true for the micro. One cannot observe the events unfolding without also recognizing one’s place (or complicity) within them. Well...one—in other words: you and I—CAN, I suppose. But I believe it would be foolish.
Much of what so many of us have based our beliefs and values upon turns out to be a lie. There are several available responses to such a revelation: shock, dismay, disappointment, outrage...to name a few. Not everyone will see the opportunity for liberation hidden within such a betrayal of trust.
But it’s there.
I’ve also been talking about radical self-care as the gateway to changing the world. In my last post I declared how when you change, the world has no choice but to change in response to you. And that’s true. Tending to your own evolution IS the way to contribute to the evolution of the society in which you live and the world beyond it. But it’s not about spa days and manicures and juice cleanses, though those things are effective in their own ways (more on that some other day).
Here’s what I want you to understand…
When I talk about self-care, I’m talking about getting really honest about the “truth massacre” upon which each of us has been built in one way or another—the stories we’ve been told or been telling ourselves about who we are and what we’re here for—and then taking action to right the things we’ve gotten wrong on both a micro and macro level.
You’ll remember, perhaps, how I said stories are all that exist between us. I hold to this belief. Everything we “know” is a story. Something someone told us or we heard somewhere or we made up in our heads, that we’ve adopted as truth and then lived into. Religion, philosophy, cultural beliefs, family narratives...all of them: stories. Some helpful, some harmful. Many told over and over and over again, in some instances to large groups of people—entire populations—until they become adopted as fact. Which is precisely why I don’t believe there’s any such thing as facts. Only generally agreed upon ideas that tend to make the most sense to the most people at any given moment.
But what happens when we find out our facts, in other words our generally agreed upon stories, aren’t factual at all? What happens when we find out “most people” have been manipulated by the few people with power? What happens when we realize that the story that was told was told to suit a particular agenda and the agenda was harmful?
Aside from shock, dismay, disappointment, and outrage, there also lies an opportunity for learning. And an opportunity for learning is also an opportunity for liberation.
This applies not only on a large scale, as with the stories of the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island (North America) and all the truths we have yet to learn and opportunities to do better we have yet to understand and integrate, but also on an individual level.
Stop for a moment right now and think of the stories you have running in your head. It might even be a good idea to write them down as they come to you.
Think of the stories you have running about yourself: “I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never find love because I’m unloveable.” “I don’t have a voice.” Think of the stories you have running about your family: “My mother thinks I’m a failure.” “They’d be better off without me.” Think of the stories you have running about people within your sphere of awareness: “That woman is selfish.” “Those people don’t belong here.” “That man wants to take my job.” You’ll notice I focussed on negative stories. Obviously those aren’t the only kind running through your head, and these particular ones may not be applicable to you. But we do tend to run negative and self-defeating narratives in a loop far more often than positive and self-affirming ones.
Now...after having spent a few moments examining the stories you’re running in your head, think about where each of them originated. Who was the first person to tell you you’re not good enough? Who told you your family would be better off without you? Who told you those people don't belong here? Really think about each one and dig deep to find the place from which it began.
Now ask yourself: Is this a true story?
The vast majority of the time the answer to that question will be: No.
But when we live our lives believing these stories are true, we behave accordingly. We behave as though we’re less-than, unloveable, disrespected, threatened, at risk of being harmed or abandoned or stolen from. Since our behaviour dictates our outcomes we tend to cause ourselves the very harm we most fear. Worse still...we may cause harm to others, based on stories we have running in our minds about them that are abjectly false.
The objective here is to examine the stories. ALL the stories.
We must examine every story we’ve ever been told, every story we’re currently being told. We must examine every story our parents told, every story our teachers told, every story the media tells, every story ever told by friends, coworkers, spiritual leaders, every story we’ve read in a book or watched in a movie, every story we’ve ever made up in our own heads.
So many of them are garbage.
It’s time to take out the garbage.
The moment we realize we’ve been lugging around great big bags of trashy ideas is the moment we realize we can put them down.
This is the moment when liberation becomes possible.
An opportunity becomes available...to observe what IS happening as opposed to what we were told was happening, to discard what is false, to generate new stories based on our own observations, and to continuously update those stories as we gather new and better information.
You have the power to write a better story.
Not only for yourself, but for the world.
Now...I recognize it requires a certain level of self-love and self-acceptance to gain the confidence to stare in the face of injustice, to recognize and call out the lies, to hold awareness of the imbalances within and without, and then take action to right them—within and without.