There is a saying that feelings are not facts. I was reminded of this the other day when looking at some videos of one of my first attempts at skiing race gates. In the moment, I thought I was amazing, a natural at this sport. Why have I not been competing at this for decades? Think of all the medals I could have won. Then I saw the video of me: clearly a novice, sliding and skidding between gates at what was obviously an embarrassingly low speed. That is not at all how it felt when the gates were rushing at me at what my body considered incredible velocity. A hero in my own mind.
A mental health professional with considerable experience once told me that we all carry with us three core delusions about ourselves. These are things that we are absolutely convinced to be immutable truths, but they are not; they are delusions. The problem is two fold. Firstly, they are delusions, and secondly, they are core to our being. This means we are completely incapable of seeing things as they truly are; we need an outside source to inform us, and even then, we are not apt to quickly assimilate the news. The good news is that we can change our minds about even our most closely held beliefs. It is one of the benefits of having a brain: we can adjust to new information. On this theme, you may want to listen to this week’s podcast on psychedelic medicine.
One of the dangers of shrinking social and family groups is that we need people around us to keep us on track; not social media “friends,” but actual people. We humans can self-regulate, but it is very hard to do all by oneself. We need to see ourselves reflected in the faces of the important people in our lives. Although they may be inclined to frost the mirror somewhat in order to keep us as friends, it is certainly better than isolation when we can convince ourselves of all manner of silliness. In general, our delusions tend towards the self-limiting variety; however, as seen in my recent video evidence of ski mediocrity, we can also be deluded in the other direction. This holiday season, I am sending you all wishes to be with good friends and family, to cherish the love, camaraderie, and mental health they contribute to our lives.
Onward and upward,