Bought any good myths lately?
Maybe you haven’t bought any recently, but I’m willing to bet you’ve bought a few in your life, like…
- life is supposed to be fair
- live happily ever after — married with two children, two cars, pets, successful career and a house with a white picket fence
- my husband/wife should know what I am feeling, what I need
- if I work hard I will be successful
- things (cars, houses, electronic gadgets, clothes) will make me happy
- more is better
- thin is beautiful
- right clothes, right hair, right body will make me lovable
- other people will make me happy
- the busier I am the more value or importance I have
- life should no be so difficult
- if I am a good person, bad things will not happen to me
None of these is true.
The myths we believe influence our choices and create expectations — unrealistic expectations — for ourselves and others.
When I was young, parents and teachers tried to ensure life was fair: all cake pieces were exactly the same size, toys were shared equally. The problem comes when I continue to believe, for decades, that life should be fair. I fuss about the inequities of life: my best friend doesn’t deserve cancer, I get bad news on top of more bad news when others live a charmed life, my coworker can afford a bigger house, more cars, European vacations when I just barely make it to the end of the month before my money runs out, on the best day of my new life I broke my leg. You get the picture. No matter how adults tried to make life fair when we were young, life is seldom fair in our grown-up world. When we bury our myth that “life ought to be fair” we can cope with what life sends our way instead of thinking life ought to be different.
In my married life, I expected my family to make me happy on special occasions: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays. When I became single my children were young teenagers and weren’t reliable at remembering special dates. Besides, their only money and transportation to purchase gifts came from me. I had two choices: I could remind them of my birthday, which felt like asking them for a gift. Or I could say nothing and take a chance they would forget and I’d have to be okay with that. As I worked through the dilemma I came up with a new plan: I would create my own special day. Anything the children did on their own would be “icing on the cake.” The lesson for me was that I can be responsible for my own happiness. I no longer delegate my happiness to others. Some years my birthday is a big deal — I travel or party or dine with friends or buy something I’ve always wanted. Other years it doesn’t matter so much. Either way I am content. Another myth gone.
I work on accepting realities, rather than dwelling on wishful thinking, on how life ought to be. For me, life is like a card game; the only cards I can play are the ones I’ve been dealt. No matter that I’ve had five bad hands in a row. My only opportunity is to play my cards the best way I can.
Debunking our personal myths is not fun or easy — but it is critical to creating an authentic life.
Do your work. Claim your life.
Until next Tuesday…