A great deal of my work centers around shattering myths about love, romance, and intimacy that cause untold amounts of anxiety in relationships and sexuality. If we start with the very basic “doubt means don’t” slogan that permeates the culture of romantic love, we see immediately what happens when we dismantle this pernicious myth: we’re free to experience the very common and often necessary doubt that arises in the face of real risk, and we realize that the more we make room for the doubt, the more it shrinks. This is the paradox of acceptance: once we accept what we fear most, the fear eventually falls away.
But the myths that keep us stuck aren’t only centered on love. We carry myths about friendship, myths about work, and myths about life itself. If only our early educational years focused more on the reality of life and less on the fantasy images disseminated by the media we would create a much healthier foundation upon which to enter adulthood. It’s the myths about life that have been cropping up in my work with clients over the past few weeks, so I want to shatter two of them here:
Myth #1: That Where You Live and the Lifestyle You Choose Will Create the Shimmer and Shine You’re Seeking.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some version of the following: “I never imagined living this life, or the life that I’m headed toward: the suburban house with the partner and kids. It seems so boring. What about my fantasy of living in a loft in New York with a cat? What about living the artistic, bohemian life?”
To which I respond: “So why aren’t you living that life?”
“Because I crave stability. I want a family. But what about that other life?”
“What do you think the other life will give you?”
“Excitement, joy, shimmer! I would never feel bored! I wouldn’t be ordinary!”
“What’s wrong with ordinary?”
“I just never wanted to be ordinary. Is that normal? Do you hear that a lot.”
“Yes, in fact…well… it’s quite an ordinary thought. And when it comes to the demons in our minds, this is where we want to be ordinary!”
Nothing will create that inner glow you’re seeking except for your own connection to yourself. That’s not to say that there might not be geographic locations that are more suited for your temperament (and I’m not talking about relationship anxiety here, so if that statement spiked you please harness your loving parent right now!), but there isn’t a location or lifestyle in the world that’s going to make you feel whole and alive any more than there’s a perfect partner that’s going to make you feel whole and alive. Learning about your aliveness is your job and yours alone, and for some, it’s the work of a lifetime.
Myth #2: That Life and Especially Adulthood Should be Easier Than It Is.
You might consciously know that growing up isn’t easy, but when you’re stuck in the trenches of trying to figure out what it actually means to be an adult it’s easy to forget this cognitive awareness and revert to the cultural myth that adulthood should be effortless and easy.
Western culture is predicated on an adolescent mindset that stunts our growth and makes it difficult to step into full-fledged adulthood. Because the culture waves out the flags that say, “Follow your bliss! Life should be a party! If your relationship is difficult it means you’re with the wrong person!”, most people find it difficult to grow up. This leaves you in a perpetual state of adolescence where you believe that work should always be fun and inspiring, you should feel in love forever, and life should be easy (like it was in college).
I’ve dissected myths about love hundreds of times, so let’s take a moment to shatter this myth about work that says, “I should always feel inspired!” The truth is that work will not always be fun and inspiring. Yes, the hope is that you find work that is meaningful and aligned with your values, but that doesn’t mean that work doesn’t sometimes feel like work. Regardless of the messages of the culture, most of us have a resistant adolescent character inside that would much rather watch a movie or sit around eating potato chips than buckle down and do the work that needs to be done. The path of growing up includes working with both the culturally conditioned and nascent resistant part of us that bucks at the idea of hard work as we recognize that being an adult is not the life of the adolescent or the college student.
How do you shatter the myths that are keeping you stuck?
As I often say on my blog and courses, you douse them with truth-water.
And how do you learn the truth?
By limiting your exposure to mainstream media and proactively choosing to immerse yourself in quality information, including books, podcasts, documentaries, and even who you follow on platforms like Instagram. If you’re at a loss about what this means, start with my Recommended Resources list.
You didn’t have a choice regarding the information you were exposed to growing up, but you have a choice now. You can choose to continue along the path of least resistance, which means continually exposing yourself to the damaging myths extolled in mainstream media or you can choose to nourish yourself with information, images, and messages grounded in truth and wisdom.
What myths are keeping you stuck? The ones I’ve listed above are only two of the hundreds of myths that the culture propagates that inhibit stepping into your true self. Do you carry myths about love, friendship, having children, work, family, sexuality? If a belief or expectation is externally imposed instead of internally derived, it’s something that you’ve absorbed from the culture and it would benefit you to start to unpack it so that you can clearly see where you’re shifting offtrack. I’d love to hear which myths you’re untangling in the comments below.