As I prepare for the official publication of this blog, it feels appropriate to address the first post to the title of the blog. Of the comments I’ve gotten about it so far, the most common seems to ask more information about the title The Mind’s Lie. And since it ties into a very key component of my struggles with depression, it’s a good place to start.
The Mind’s Lie is meant to be a bit of a play on words referencing the mind’s eye and the way perception changes one’s view of the world around them. But additionally, it was appropriate for me because my brain lies to me all the time, and over the years, I’ve had to learn how to cope with such lies. Initially, I thought everyone’s brain worked this way, but I’ve since learned that it’s not as common a situation as I once believed.
Most of the time, the lies undermine my self-esteem or any feelings of safety I might have. When I talk about safety, I’m referring to the safety I feel in knowing others care about me enough to overlook faults I may have, rather than protection from physical danger. Sometimes, when my brain’s being particularly devious, I can’t help but act on the thoughts that fill my head, even knowing that they’re lies. Rational thought doesn’t always dismiss them.
A good example of a lie my mind has told me is the one that cropped up when I started dyeing my hair blue. This new look (a radical change for me) left me feeling pretty uncertain about myself and what reception I would get from others. I was, and still am, very pleased with my new look, and felt more confident in myself than I had in decades. And yet, I found myself utterly convinced that if I surprised my father with the new look, he would turn completely away from me.
When I thought about that, it didn’t matter to me that I was forty. What mattered was not losing one of the most important people in my life. And while I knew, rationally, that my father was not the sort of person to turn away from anyone he loved, and that he was an extremely accepting man, the lies wouldn’t disappear. I can recognize a lie, but I still have to find a way to address it before I can move past it.
With the lie about my hair, the way I addressed it was to call my father and give him a warning before he saw me. I think the call hurt him a little before I sat him down to explain why I had to. I got the impression that it left him feeling a little like I didn’t trust him to be the loving man he had always shown himself to be. But it wasn’t that at all, which is why understanding what the lies are and sharing that I suffer from the deception is so important.
These lies are insidious. They’re dangerous because they come from my own mind, and if I’m not careful to look at them objectively, they very quickly fit themselves to the shape of my thoughts so that I cannot separate them from more rational thoughts. Even more, the lies only serve to undermine my confidence or self-worth. It’s very easy to believe you’re worthless when it’s your own brain telling you that you are. The key is to recognize that you have worth, regardless of the thoughts, and find a way to anchor to that knowledge.
My way of coping with my mind’s lies is not a quick fix. It’s a slow process, and doesn’t always fully work. But being able to explain to others what goes on in my own head, and the effects it has on me is important. Trying to explain what was going on, and what my thought processes were, gave me the tools to start recognizing the lies so that I could counter them.
If you suffer from lies of the mind, I highly recommend trying to learn how to explain them to others. If there’s no one in your life that will listen, then keep a journal so that you can try to explain it to yourself. It’s not a solution, but it will give you tools to use to fight it.
And in the meantime, welcome to The Mind’s Lie.