Why the truth matters
- Wednesday, May 03, 2000
Chris Conway, a friend and Christian counselor, uses cognitive therapy to help people change their lives. She sat across from me at La Madeleine, drinking coffee and explaining the way our thoughts and feelings are connected.
"Your feelings don't run your life. Your mind should be in charge. Most people don't understand that. They don't believe they can control what they're feeling. In fact, what you believe determines what you think, what you feel, and how you act. If you change your beliefs, your life will change. Most of your life happens in your head."
I listened and thought through the tenets I'd built my life upon. One thing was clear to me: My happiness depends upon the amount of truth present in my thinking. And my thinking - especially around being single - has been bombarded by lies.
Why is the truth so important? More than an abstract philosophical or spiritual concept, truth is responsible for our quality of life.
We talk to ourselves all the time, though we don't realize it. There's a voice inside our head that filters situations for us; it reinforces us, scolds us, talks to us about the state of the world and our place in it. Psychologists call this self-talk. If there are lies in your self-talk, you'll be depressed and anxious.
We've been gathering information about the world since we were small, trying to figure out the unwritten rules on which the world operates. We picked things up from mom and dad, from our big brother and best friend. We were learning (scary thought) from "Dukes of Hazzard," Star Wars, TV ads ("Coke is it!") and The Chronicles of Narnia. Some of the things we picked up are generally true: "If you do your work well you may be rewarded." And some are lies: "To be truly happy you must be beautiful;" "You can't be beautiful if you don't wear a size 6 and have perfect hair."
Those last two lies lead to self-talk that sounds something like this: "I'll never be happy because I'm not beautiful. If I could wear a size 6 then someone would love me and I'd have a good life. I'll never be loved. I'm worthless." Thoughts like that can lead to serious depression - even suicide.
As a single woman, my thought life has often been bombarded by lies:
Based on the email I've received in response to last week's column, many of you have struggled with these lies, too. Here's what some of you said:
"Too often I find myself getting caught up in thinking that I would be happy if only I had a boyfriend or a husband."
"Finally someone who says it's OK to be a Christian single."
"I am single, 36 and yes every single one of those lies have been told to me."
These lies are more serious than you may suspect. They're the tools of Satan to keep us unhappy, discontent, and distanced from God. By counteracting these lies and aligning our beliefs about singleness with God's truth, we can change how we feel about being single. We can change the quality of our lives.
So I'm raising a glass to the possibility of changing my life by filling my mind with truth. I hope you'll join me.
Email your comments and questions to Lori.
Counselor Chris Conway says, "Your feelings don't run your life. Your mind should be in charge." What do you think of that statement? Do your feelings sometimes run your life? Do you think it's possible to change? Share your thoughts on these questions.
Check out Lori's book at http://www.thesingletruth.org.
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