Authenticity: Part 2
By Lacey Rhodes, APC
Taking a Look at the Monster in the Closet and Assigned Meaning
When we talk about looking at our perspectives and beliefs, we are really talking about taking a look at the big scary monster in the closet. This is the place in our mind that we don’t often go, where we have stuffed all the distressing things we don't want to think about. It is unprocessed emotions, unprocessed content, sometimes unprocessed trauma. But all these items we stuffed in the closet have turned into something scary…. Something nasty… something that is leaking all over the floor. We decided long ago that we DEFINITELY don’t want to go in that closet.
One possible route in the path to finding your authentic self involves going through that closet. This is personally my favorite way, because once it's done… no more closet monsters.
Here is the first big question when people think about opening that closet door:
“What if I don’t like what I find? What if I don’t like myself?”
Validation is the mystery threat the darkness holds over us so we don’t look… “Once I look at myself and what is in that closet, then it will be true”… (whatever “it” is for you personally). It’s really a dirty trick, that’s all it is. We believe the lie that the pain of discovering we are exactly what the darkness says we are, will cause more discomfort than we currently feel. Now that’s some next level manipulation… It's impressive. We have the capacity to do that to ourselves, and yet we don’t question… we accept what is handed to us because it came from our mind, in our voice. Thought and truth are not synonymous. We assign meaning to everything, and because we do that, we can also choose to assign a different meaning.
Assigned meaning is usually the root cause of the monster in the closet, and typically it thrives in our imagination, where anything is possible. Humans love meaning. It puts context to our experiences and our lives. It helps us tell a story that makes sense of our world. Here is the problem:, assigned meaning is not truth. Truth is more complicated. Truth is more of a grey area. Truth is very ambiguous, often contradictory, and makes for horrible storytelling. Let’s look at fire and its possible assigned meanings. Fire can represent light, warmth, and safety. Fire can also be death, destruction, and pain. All of these things can be true, but the assigned meaning will depend on the circumstances and the person.
So…. What’s in that closet? All the nasty stuff. No telling…. But also… lost things. You find pieces that have been tucked away. Treasures. Identity. Yes… you are going to be faced with things perhaps like the moment you truly believed you were unworthy of love. You will have to look at it, examine it, understand it, clean it up, and decide if this moment can be kept with new understanding, or if it should be discarded. You will have to look at the assigned meaning and adjust. There isn’t a real monster in there, just squished together memories, tube socks, and maybe a small spider. It's imagination that makes it look like something bigger than it is, but it's just some scary feelings and some old painful memories that need to be dusted off. They seem big because we felt small when we put them in there.
You aren’t small. You are bigger and stronger than you realize, and just like the closet monsters of our childhood, if you choose to face your closet, all you will find is how strong you truly are.