I have a lot of old tapes running through my brain… cassettes or even 8-tracks for those old enough to remember. For all you young whipper-snappers that would be iTunes singles or mp3’s to you. They are ideas or thoughts that were planted at various points during my life that have somehow influenced what I think, say and do. (Insert the whole plot of the incredible movie Inception right here.)
As it is for a lot of people, these old tapes tend to be more self-deprecating voices rather than self-promoting… sticking in my psyche only to emerge at my lowest points and feed the monsters that eat away at my best self. Why they resurrect at the most inopportune moments I cannot say. I can only guess that they are the invited guests of an inner saboteur that holds me back in fear from being who I know I can be. They say things like:
You’re not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough, not popular enough, not cool enough.
You don’t think like we do. You’re too sensitive. You’re too intense.
You don’t know anything about that. We’ve always done it this way… don’t make waves. We won’t change.
Engineering is the best path for you… art school won’t work out.
We don’t need your kind around here. You’re not like us. Go bug someone else somewhere else.
It’s crazy that so many of these old tapes are only heartless messages. When I am cognizant enough to catch one that reminds me I am good and I am loved, it is like balm for the broken spirit.
Most mass religion has taught us how to judgmentally look for sin, error and mistake in ourselves and in others, not to consider what message there might be but to catch it, hate it, eliminate it and often to project it elsewhere. I think these old tapes wound my unguarded spirit because at some level I have invested too much credibility in messages that came from people who at the time had no idea of what they were really saying. Some of them may have had my best interest at heart, but others didn’t. They were just plain mean, building up their own sense of self at my expense. I was a convenient target.
What I take from this is that I can’t pull up the weeds without also pulling up the wheat. These old tapes trigger all the negative thoughts and feelings inside of me and I would willingly toss every single one of them into the garbage can. But if I do that then I run the risk of also throwing out every good affirmation that comes from having battled them once again. Neither can I let the weeds grow and choke the wheat. I have to be vigilant and not let the old tapes control and wreak havoc on my self-worth.
It is a fine line of walking the road and holding the tension of opposites in balance. No easy answers yet again… only prayer.