are you ready to strip it off?

"Is there something sneaking up behind me?" "No, dear, just keep smiling!"

Has it been a while since you’ve loved what you’ve done with the place?

Consider this photo, if you will. Allow me to mention how accomplished and capable these individuals are: two physicists, and a famous actress! At an honors ceremony, at the Smithsonian!

But the first thing I noticed (and, I’m betting, the first thing you saw, too) was not the intended subject of the picture.

It was that wallpaper.

Eye-jarring and painful to look at. Distracting. And these fine people seem not to even notice it’s there.

Have you stopped seeing the ugly wallpaper on the walls in your life?

Have you become numb to something that just no longer works for you? Are there grungy, outdated spots in the house of your Self that you just don’t notice anymore?

When you chose that pattern it was a better idea – clean, fresh, new. In fashion. Perhaps when you started doing things “a certain way,” or relating to people, or yourself, in that particular setting, it made sense. It was right for who you were, at that time.

Wallpaper’s hard to take down once it’s up, though. When our lives or tastes or needs change, that stuff is still hanging there, getting dingy and peeling off. Getting less-than-fresh. It may seem easy to just paper over it, or paint it. Easy, but definitely not a good idea in the long run.

So, we just stop seeing the ugly wallpaper altogether.

Occasionally it’ll give us a bit of a twinge and we even consider doing some of the heavy work that’s gonna be necessary to have a calm, clear and inviting space again. A space that we feel good about sharing with others.

But we’re not ready for the heavy work, so we decide to live exist with it and say “it’s not that bad.” We stop living in that room. We stop letting others into that room.


Because we go into others’ spaces and see their ugly wallpaper, quite clearly: “holy velvet-flocked poke-in-the-eye, what were you thinking?!?” (hey, I was a kid in the 70’s – and I Have Seen It.) We know, instinctively, that if we are so distracted by the ugly stuff that we can’t see the lovely people, then… our ugly stuff is probably keeping other people from seeing the lovely us, too.

Are you trying harder and harder to get someone to see your loveliness – and can’t understand why they don’t?

Is it time to think about stripping off some wallpaper?

Yes? (“Yes.”)

That wasn’t easy, I know: my own history of “don’t go in there!!” wallpapers would’ve filled a sample book. Saying “yes” – admitting that you really do see that Something-Ugly-Right-There-Hangs – means acknowledging that there will be heavy work to come and maybe a bit of a mess during the remodeling.

Saying “yes” also does this wonderful and unexpected thing: it draws people’s eyes away from the walls. And back to lovely You.

They know that you know, and that allows you a little space to breathe. And to – gently, at your right pace – consider what comes next.

[next in this series: Should it Stay or Should It Go, Now?]

how to become an un-believer.

Yesterday I was watching a rerun of an old favorite TV show (to be revealed later so as not to distract from our topic) and was really caught by this scene: our heroine, wanting a moment’s relief from knowing the emotionally gut-wrenching consequences of her duties, looks to her mentor – her “Watcher” – and says, “lie to me.”

He obliges, saying something to the effect of “the heroes will always be good and true, the bad ones always all bad, and it will always be easy to know the right thing to do.”

Of course, we know better, right? It’s never that clear-cut, never that black-and-white.

Which is, actually, great news.

Because my point here is not about ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’ – it’s about the Lie.

In our example, the “lies” he tells her are actually pretty good stuff. Stuff she really wants to believe. Because the Lie that won’t let go of her, the one she does believe – that painful darkness is always lurking and will never end – is dreadful. Paralyzing. Keeps her from going forward.

Until we’ve dissolved through all those silly repeating habitual beliefs about ourselves and our lives that we picked up and accepted along the way, we are in the thrall of the Lie, and we will keep coming right back to it (or them, since there’s usually more than one running simultaneously in the background, like faulty programming.)

A return visit to the big L is promised every time – here’s the surprising part – whenever we consciously choose not to believe it. When we first choose to be an un-believer.

Stay with me here, solid ground is up ahead.

Try this: imagine you’ve had a creative breakthrough, all joy and in-the-flow and “a-ha!” It can be about something you do or something you want to share, an idea or a concept. Just get the feeling of it.

Now, fast forward to that instant – and I know you know what I’m talking about – where doubt starts, where joy leaves, and perhaps (big sign here) you have to start asking everyone else what they think about your idea, and “isn’t it wonderful?” Wasn’t it?

What you’ve just experienced is the Lie (in this case, a common one about worthiness and your own personal joys, the lie being that you cannot have either.) In the moment you allowed everything good to come forth, unimpeded, you were un-believing the Lie.

But, since we’ve conditioned ourselves – and primitive aspects of our brains are wired – to give more attention to “what-can-go-wrong?” (years of practice, I tell you!) we let the Lie ooze back in, sure our high flight could only result in a long fall.

Get a nice easy calm breath and go back to that feeling of “ahhh!” that came with your good moment, there’s just no reason to stay away from it any longer. We’re about to feel a whole lot better… because there’s a simple – maybe not easy, but simple – way to release the hold of the Lie. Dissipate it, gently, and recycle its energy back to the universe.

We make friends with it.

We hold a mirror up to see into our blind spot, where it’s been sitting, and say “what is your name? what do you go by?” Give it a minute (or two, since it’ll need to get past the shock of being noticed, possibly for the first time.) It may have a common name, such as unworthiness or uncertainty. If you’re up to it, stick around for its other – specific – names, the ones known only to you.

There. That’s all for now. What comes next will begin to unfold all on its own: your new ally will, in return for being noticed, begin to reveal why it is there and what it has to teach you. Little insights, and maybe big epiphanies. The little kernel of truth that exists within it – the one that allowed you to believe in it to begin with – will come to light.

Just as darkness, rather than being the opposite of light, is a lack of light; a Lie, rather than being the opposite of Truth, is a lack of Truth. There is always a bit of each contained in the other.

And since a belief is just a thought or an idea we stick with, over and over, until we feel like it’s real, it can always be changed. We feel ‘ick’ in the first place because we have to work very hard to believe things that just don’t feel right to us, that contradict what we know to be true. It is just as easy – and feels so much better – to believe thoughts and ideas that ring true to ourselves. (Not to some unnamed ‘other’. Ourselves.)

So when we’re stopped cold by the Lie that says “we’re not worthy” we can say: “except sometimes we are.” Let that little voice that just sang “hooray!” be heard – and learn to listen for it, too.

When we’re trying so hard to believe the ‘good’ lies but are skeptical because of the “always” part – “the heroes are always good and true” – we can make it possible to erode away skepticism by allowing that, just maybe, “the heroes are always good and true… except when they’re not.” Feels more real. Oh, and human, too. (“hooray!”)

When our heroine believes the Lie that “it will always be hard” – she can soften it by remembering “except when it’s not.” (“hooray!”)

When we start to un-believe, something interesting happens, seemingly all on its own: the very forces that held the Lies in place – in our blind spots, until we noticed them – will be the forces that release them, a bit at a time, until they are transformed. Until we are transformed. Into that which knows only its own joyful in-the-flow creative self.

Into what was there all along. Truth.

(okay, as promised, the TV show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the episode was called – yep – “Lie to Me.”)