Without Stories, Who Am I?

Roadside Musings

Without Stories, Who Am I?


What do we do when it's hard to tell our therapist the truth? Rabbi Rami explores.

After talking with Julie Peters about therapy on the Spirituality & Health Podcast, I pondered why I no longer go to therapy. Then I remembered: I lie.

The key to success in therapy is telling the truth. If you are going to lie to your therapist knowingly, what’s the point?

Why would I lie to my therapist? The answer is simple: I want my therapist to like me. If my therapist knew the truth about me, they would dislike me, and I can’t see the value in adding to the number of people who dislike me.

Of course, my therapist is smart enough to know I’m lying since if I were as cool a person as I present myself to be in therapy, I wouldn’t be in therapy in the first place. Which is another reason I stopped going. If I know I’m lying and my therapist knows I’m lying, there is no point in lying. Since telling the truth is out of the question and lying is my only option short of not going to therapy, not going to therapy becomes my only real option. And the less expensive one at that.

Yet now that I think about this, however, maybe there is something beneficial to pretending to be the person I want to be without dealing with the person I am. After all, there is no real me, only the “me” I create as a character in the stories I tell about myself.

Without stories, I’m nobody at all. If I want my story to have some quality of believability, I must act in ways that reflect the story, so if I tell people that I am kind and generous, I must do kind and generous things. If I don’t, it won’t take long before people realize I’m lying, and if they realize I’m lying, there is no point in pretending I’m kind and generous. Consistency matters.

Being seen as kind and generous is good, but given my career choice, I want people to see me as wise and spiritual, so I must do wise and spiritual things. That’s why I write books and spend a lot of time sitting cross-legged and breathing with my eyes closed. (Breathing with my eyes closed is easy, but sitting cross-legged at my age is hard.)

I’ve been doing these wise and spiritual things for over half a century. If I admitted I’m neither wise nor spiritual, I wouldn’t have to get up hours before dawn, and I could do my breathing with my eyes closed while asleep. Maybe I’ll try this. And admitting I’m neither wise nor spiritual could signify that I’m even wiser and more spiritual than you thought. This is a win-win without the swollen knees.

Hmmm, maybe talking to a therapist helped after all. Thanks, Julie.

Listen to the podcast episode that inspired this article here.

Roadside Musings

In Roadside Musings, Rabbi Rami draws from the well of the world's religious and spiritual...
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Without Stories Who Am I

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