I sit here today, still gripped by Greta Thunberg’s speech yesterday at the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit. She’s an inspiration. For advocating for the planet, and for all of us. For doing what’s right. For taking ACTION. For speaking TRUTH.
She, and other truth-tellers like her, give me hope that the current climate of gaslighting is ending.
It seems the last few years have been filled with more political and corporate gaslighting than ever. It's actually one of the reasons why I wrote my memoir. I spent my teens in an abusive religious reform cult where authorities lied and manipulated reality to gain and retain power. One week they’d tell us the color black was red; the next they said it was white. If we dared say, “No, black is black,” we were severely punished, which included being beaten with leather whips. We were expected to blindly follow the leader and never question their alleged authority and truth.
Unfortunately, I’m seeing many of the brainwashing techniques the cult used being applied today by politicians and corporations. Facts are being twisted as lies, and agenda-dripping falsehoods are being portrayed as reality. A cactus is not a cactus, they say (see my poor attempt at a political cartoon above). In other words, the gaslights are blazing.
However, truth-tellers and people of action like Greta are rising. Hopefully the world is waking up. Thanks to these truth-tellers, I hold hope that we can rise to the challenges of our day (climate change being one of the greatest), and create better realities for us all.
But it's not just up to movement leaders to be the truth-tellers. The reality is we sometimes gaslight our own dang selves. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes subconsciously. We must become our own truth-tellers.
How Can We Become Our Own Truth-Tellers?
It starts with these questions. Are we living in truth?
Are we creating narratives in our head to justify our past or present actions? Probably. That’s what humans do. What if we can do better - become a truth-teller for ourselves - and stare truth in the face? What if we walked up to things we maybe feel shame about and acknowledge the pain we caused ourselves or others? Wouldn’t that be powerful? Couldn’t that create a positive shift in our lives? I believe it can.
By squashing the lies we tell ourselves (like creating narratives to make our actions seem more justifiable), maybe we can we heal ourselves --and potentially others-- by getting real and acknowledging the pain we've caused. Maybe then we can process it all and move forward in life a little more healed.
Being a truth-teller to ourselves doesn’t always have to involve revisiting heavy “issues” from our pasts. It can also be about keeping ourselves in check about the kind of humans we want to be.
Are we really doing the best we can in our relationships, our self-talk, our parenting (dog parenting for me!), our work? Of course not. There's always room for improvement. But how much time do we spend working to improve those important aspects of our lives? Usually not a lot. These are things I think we should gut-check often. I try to, but I often fail and let life sweep me up in busy day-to-day stuff. It is when I'm shaken by truth-tellers like Greta that I remember I need to push myself to live more fully in my truth.
Using myself as an example of this truth-seeking process, I'll share some truths Great inspired me to get closer to...
I like to think I care about the environment. And I do care deeply, BUT...
- Am I doing enough to help the environment and reduce my carbon footprint? No.
- Am I sometimes lying to myself by identifying as a person who cares but ignoring that fact that I need to be doing more? Yes.
- Can I do something to face that truth and change my behavior? Yes, I need to stop buying products with so much plastic and I should finally get serious about installing solar on my house. And about ten dozen other things.
- Do I have to do them all to live my truth? No. But by acknowledging the truth that I could be doing more and by TAKING ACTION (big key part there), I can live closer to the truth that I do indeed care about the planet.
Thank you Greta for the reminder. Like you say, it shouldn't be you teaching us adults these things; but you are, and I'm so grateful to you for that. You inspire me to live closer to my truth and I will work to do better.