Real But Not True

I discovered a very simple and powerful thought that’s helping me find my way back to the present moment. It’s the notion that thoughts and their underlying beliefs are real but not true.

Psychologist and Meditation Teacher Tara Brach explains this wonderfully: “[Thoughts/beliefs] are appearing, they come with a very real and painful experience of fear or hurt or shame in our bodies. But they are interpretations of reality, mental images and soundbites we have produced that represent the world and entrap us in a confining trance. They are not truth itself.”

According to Tara, our core beliefs are often based on our early and most potent fears. The greater the stress or trauma we experienced, the greater likelihood of deeply rooted fear-based beliefs.

For example, imagine you’re a child asking your mother a lot of questions. She responds to a lot of your questions but ignores others. She may be having a bad day and may yell at you and tell you to stop asking so many questions.

You may not remember these incidents when you’re older but these memories may influence the way you behave in certain situations. For instance, you may be reluctant to ask questions because you think people will get annoyed or question your intelligence.

When we believe that thoughts are real but not true, we can better manage the impact of these fear-based beliefs. We can rid ourselves of these outdated observations that halt our curiosity.