real but not true

In Loosening the Grip of Core and Limiting Beliefs, meditation teacher, psychologist, and author Tara Brach writes that many of our beliefs about self and other “are real but not true.”

She is referring mostly to the negative and limiting thoughts created from early experiences when we didn’t quite match up or live up to what we believed was expected of us.  Oftentimes we cannot access these early memories, but the feelings are encoded within us and create default emotional experiences, even when we intellectually know that the emotional and lived experiences aren’t congruent or accurate for our current selves. 

So, a relationship ends and we feel a pervasive sense of failure; we believe ourselves to be failures.  We fall short on a deadline and feel shame; we believe ourselves to be deeply flawed.  We overeat or drink too much and feel a great sense of humiliation; we believe ourselves to be unworthy.  These might not be examples that speak to you, but I think you get the point.  There is an experience where we do not act as our best selves, we feel badly about that, we create a belief about self, and then, to add insult to injury, we judge ourselves lacking and wrong.

This isn’t to say sometimes we fall short of our own or others’ expectations.  It isn’t to say sometimes we need to be more flexible or generous or restrained.  It is to say those times when we are not our best selves do not define us.  They do not tell our whole story.  And they certainly do not warrant the power to create a faulty emotional landscape deemed as truth.  The beliefs are real, but they are not true. 

The truth is in the larger story.  This is the larger story that incorporates – not judges – our areas for growth.  This larger story allows for acceptance of self and other.  This larger story offers compassion and kindness to ourselves as freely as it does those we love.  May you embrace this larger story of self and the true beliefs flowing from it.

References & Resources

Learn more about Tara Brach through her website http://www.tarabrach.com

Read Tara Brach's blog on limiting beliefs here http://blog.tarabrach.com/2012/11/loosening-grip-of-core-and-limiting.html.

Links to some of my favorite books by Tara Brach:

Whitney Cain