In my new attempts to listen to all the podcasts related to bettering one’s self, and a few mindless podcasts like “My Favourite Murder”, I’ve learned a lot of things in a short period of time.
I try to take it all in (at two times the speed, which drives my husband crazy!), and write down as many notes as I can.
One thing I learned within the last week was that the brain doesn’t know the difference between real memories and imagined ones.
Not only does self-talk go a long way, but you can create memories that didn’t happen in order to drive you forward.
Remember being a child and creating worlds of fantasy and make believe? Slaying dragons, riding unicorns, and being king/queen of the castle in the sky?
At that time, you believed it.
During your childhood, you were creating stories and memories that weren’t real, and buying into this world of imagination.
At what point did that change?
Well… maybe it didn’t.
Make Believe in the Real World
The stories we tell ourselves now are not that creative. Instead, they are negative and sometimes hurtful.
We tell ourselves what other people are thinking all the time.
I thought this was a mental health issue, and it might very well be, but you don’t need to be diagnosed with an illness to presume other people’s thoughts.
Another thing I heard this week was, “We are what we perceive other people think of us” – meaning, if I think you’re mad at me, I’ll behave like you’re mad at me.
How do I know what you’re thinking? I’ve created it in my mind.
It’s make believe.
Maybe you really are mad at me, but how can I know without asking straight out?
Kids are wonderful this way. When they want to know something, they ask. They’re direct, and not always polite. Social etiquette is often lost on them.
- “What’s your name?”
- “How old are you?”
- “Why is your nose so much bigger than Mommy’s?”
That first question might be socially acceptable, but how often do you ask your peer what their name is after you’ve forgotten?
Kids don’t presume to know something until they’ve asked. Sometimes recalling what you’ve told them can lead to make believe also.
I’m pretty sure we should all behave like kids in this manner. Make believe all things fantasy. Put your imagination to the test.
In the real world though, don’t presume anything until you’ve asked. Make believe nothing and get confirmation.
Does Happiness Follow From Make Believe?
If we follow these rules, we should be happier. We won’t assume what other people are thinking, because we’ll ask.
And if we want to tell tall tales of riding unicorns to the moon, so be it.
If it’s true that our brains can’t tell the difference between real memories and imagined ones, then I can probably convince myself that unicorns are real.
When my children, more so my daughter than my son, ask if something is real, I will most often say “Maybe”, because who am I to know if it is or it isn’t?
If you’re watching a cartoon about a talking sponge, the obvious answer is, “No, that’s not real.”
Well, I’ve never seen a talking sponge, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a species of talking sponges somewhere.
You can believe anything you want, until you choose not to believe anymore.
What if we all believe in positivity? What if we all believe in happiness? What if we always believe the best in people?
The pessimist in me thinks it’s all fine and good to believe the best in people, but people still do terrible things for no reason. Not all people are good people.
This is what keeps me from believing the best. I’ve been proven wrong too many times. Now I naturally assume the worst. That’s not good either.
There needs to be a happy medium.
From this point forward, I choose to ask more questions and assume nothing. I can’t know what you’re thinking unless I ask.
I’m not really known for asking too many questions, as I believe people will tell me what they want me to know.
But I am also notorious for assuming untrue things because I wasn’t provided any information to go on.
I don’t believe I’m the only person who does this. Paranoia is a symptom of social anxiety.
I should call this social paranoia versus general paranoia. I don’t believe that my phones are tapped and someone is following me.
I simply believe that people are thinking negatively about me, and this is usually unwarranted.
I will do better at asking questions. We should all ask more questions, and be patient with our answers.
Baby steps… we can get through our anxieties by taking these small steps.