The Answers are Inside Us

I tend to gaslight myself. Many people use that term without knowing what it really is so to be clear, gaslighting means denying reality. The term originated in the 1938 theatrical play “Gas Light.” The play spawned several films, including Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman in 1944. Her character, Paula, starts to doubt her own truth and reality because her husband, Gregory, keeps lying to her. Literal gaslights dim and brighten for no apparent reason, which Gregory suggests is only Paula’s imagination but that isn’t true – he’s the one causing them to dim and brighten.

So often we talk about gaslighting in the form of other people, like how Donald Trump gaslights us every time he opens his mouth. It’s not that he’s lying, it’s that he’s lying about things that actually happened. He tells us, “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say that,” when there are clear records he did and said those things. Someone else denying our reality is one thing but gaslighting ourselves is another.

sky mirror

Sometimes we need to look in the mirror, not somewhere else. Photo by Viktor Forgacs™️ on Unsplash

I perpetually question whether something occurred, if it’s really true, or if I’m deluding myself. In short, I don’t trust myself. When I mentioned this to a friend, she laughed and said, “Rebekah, I literally put you in charge of my trust. I paid someone to write up a legal document with your name all over it with the word ‘trust’ in it. That’s how trustworthy you are.”

Well. I wasn’t expecting that but it was nice to hear that other people find me trustworthy, so much so they’re putting money on it. It’s become a new affirmation and the universe has backed it up. All week, the books I’ve read and the TV shows I’ve watched “happened” to talk about trusting yourself. In Tosha Silver’s book Outrageous Openness, she says, “Your answers are inside you.”

I forget that. I usually believe the answers are outside me, that other people know more than I do, that they have some secret knowledge or insight I don’t have. When something goes wrong in my life, I want to get 10 opinions about what to do or say because everyone else knows better. It’s tied to gaslighting because when you doubt your own reality, you perpetually think you can’t be trusted and that other people can be. But that’s not true. Other people lie. They make mistakes. They’re human.

In my spiritual tradition, we say the unchangeable entity is Sat and the external manifestation of sat is satya or benevolent truthfulness. I think of the truth as living “out there” and forget it’s also in here, in me. As I meditate, I’m touching the absolute truth, the omniscient being that resides with me as me. But if I keep denying the truth and seek it elsewhere, I’m throwing away the rice in my hand to beg for food.

My spiritual teacher says, “Even if one runs about the external world like a mad dog, one will not find [the Divine Beloved]. One will have to seek [It], the most beloved, with the highest love in the innermost recesses of the heart, in the most solitary jewel-case of the mind.”

In the context of truth and answers, the principle is the same. Some things require reality testing. I don’t know how to do calculus, for instance, but for others, I only need to look into the recesses of my heart because the answers are inside me.

I dream of a world where we stop gaslighting ourselves. A world where people are honest with themselves and each other. A world where we understand sometimes it’s important to seek out the truth but other times it’s important to remember the answers are already inside us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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