Ineffective Myths We Live By

Before I begin, I need to repeat something important here. Myths are not about external, objective reality. They are about subjective reality. That is to say these myths are ineffective whether or not they happen to be true.
    I’d be happy if only…
    If they appreciated me, if I had this or that, if I were more (or less) something then I’d be happy. These are some of the “If only” myths. There are two problems the all these myths. First they are based upon the premise that happiness comes from outside not inside. Happiness is an entirely subjective experience, it occurs entirely inside our minds/bodies and that’s where it arises. Identifying external sources or limitations for our happiness in effect says that we can’t (see Ineffective Myth 2) ever be happy unless objective reality changes. The second problem with these myths is the subjectively untrue belief is that happiness can become a permanent experience.). People who adhere to this myth more or less guarantee themselves a life filled with suffering.
    For a more effective myth see What Must I Do to be Happy?
    It’s not fair!
    A plebeian in the world of Victim-hood. You can almost hear the whine. This myth is usually based upon several assumptions.
  • There’s a problem with the world as it is
  • It’s possible for things to be perfectly fair to everyone
  • It’s not my fault–it’s somebody else’s fault
  • I know what fairness is–my position is morally superior
    The first two assumptions are dubious at best, the last two are downright dangerous. The regularly lead to behaviors that are self and other destructive.
    More effective: Life is not fair. I can try to make I better, but there is a very real possibility I will just move the unfairness  somewhere else.
    I did it for them….
    In Matthew 6:3 Jesus says. “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” If you do, you will feel proud, you will be tempted to feel superior to others, those who gave less as well as those who received your alms. Even worse you may feel that the recipients of your alms owe you something in return. They do not. In truth the opportunity to give is reward in itself.
    A more effective myth: I do these things for myself, I do them because that’s the kind of person I want to be.
    All that happens is according to God’s will
    I’m actually a bit uncomfortable putting this one here, because, for some people, it can be a critical spiritual discipline. But it is so terribly dangerous for many of us that I decided to include it. The problem is that this myth can be used to justify nearly any action. You can lie, or steal or maim, or you name it because the results are God’s responsibility not yours. I can for example point a loaded gun at a child and pull the trigger because the gun will only fire the bullet will only strike, the child will only die if that is God’s will.
    The biblical warning concerning this myth comes in the story of the cursing of the fig tree. Matthew 21:19 says- And seeing fig tree by the wayside he went to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. Many see this as an ugly story, to me it is essential it says we are held responsible for the fruits of our actions.
    My way is the way
    If you apply this myth to your own life that’s not so bad. It’s when you start using at a basis for correcting others that the trouble begins. That’s because in order for this myth to make sense you must believe:
  • You have all the relevant data
  • Your goals are the only correct goals
  • Your logic is impeccable
  • Other people are just too ignorant, too stupid, too lazy or too stubborn to see that you’re right.
    Is it just me or does this sound impossibly arrogant. The word hubris comes to mind. ;On the other hand maybe you believe you’re just lucky. But if that’s true what basis do you have for certainty? What business do you have correcting others?
    I’ll be saved if I….
    In a spiritual context, there is essentially no way to complete this sentence to produce a subjectively (or objectively) true statement. Authentic action (doing) flows from authentic being not the reverse. See: What Can I Do to Be Happy. Instead the goal is to transform yourself into the kind of person that is saved. As Paul says “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Or, more specifically, as Jesus says, “Unless you are reborn…”
    You always (You never)….
    The second member of the triumvirate ruling the world of Victim-hood. This myth handles public relations. It names the responsible parties (not you!). Not only that it assigns perpetual responsibility so that you never need worry about it again. It’s always them. Problem is it’s a lie, and deep down you know it; so do they. It only takes one case to disprove an always or a never. You need to ignore those cases, and you do. Movere most of us have learned to ignore the lies as well. both when we tell them and when we hear them.
    I can’t (or they won’t let me)…
    The lowest ranking of the triumvirate that rules the world of Victim-hood. This myth is usually a passive aggressive reaction in the face of needing to make a choice. Independent of objective reality, this myth almost invariably translates in one of two ways. Either it means I won’t and you can’t make me, or it means I won’t even try. There are few things on truly must do in life, making choices is one of them. This myth denies that you have choice as well as refusing to take responsibility for that choice. In your heart of hearts you know this lie for what it is, and you despise yourself for it.
    For a more effective myth, try I don’t want to.
    I have to…

    This myth is the leader of the triumvirate that rules the world of Victim-hood. It makes someone or something other than yourself responsible for choosing, when, in fact, the choice is yours to make. You just don’t like any of the choices you see at the moment. There are only two things we truly have to do. We have to die, and we have to make choices. All else is false.

    So why is it so popular? Because we can make choice, either consciously or by default, without feeling responsible for the outcome. Even better we get to feel superior to whoever “forced us” to make the choice we did. After all, those idiots should have known better.

    Nobody should have to…

    This is myth is built on the foundation of two dubious myths.  The explicit myth is: “I have to…” . The second myth is the implied “It’s not fair…”

    God Loves what I love, Hates what I hate, Wants what I want
    This is by far the most likely myth to slip from merely ineffective into true evil. People who hold this myth can and will do literally anything justifying their actions as the will of God

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