"One of the keys to happiness is remembering to laugh, and Dr. Dana reminds us frequently of how to do that in The Top Ten Lies We Tell Ourselves. She's not just joking around, though, because she knows her stuff. She connects the most important principles of A Course in Miracles to her knowledge of psychology and then makes it clear that she's really used both in her own life. After this book, lying to myself won't be such a big deal anymore!" — Maria Felipe, author, Live Your Happy
If laughter is the best medicine for physical illness, imagine what it might do for spiritual ailments.
Educational psychologist and "self-help stand-up comedian" Dana Marrocco explores this idea in her first book, a work inspired by A Course in Miracles. Dr. Dana explains that the ego — the fear-soaked part of our mind — is happiest when we try to do everything it asks, even when it makes little sense. Following in the footsteps of Marianne Williamson, Gerald R. Jampolsky, M.D., and Gabrielle Bernstein, she uses both humor and a solid base of academic and practical knowledge to expose these hidden and harmful messages that, far too often, we blindly accept as true.
Recommending a gentle, light hearted "roasting" of our self-deceptions, Dr. Dana tackles ten of the typical ego lies. Each of the ten lies comes with a twenty-four-hour challenge: to refrain from acting on or believing it for one day. With the rare, deft touch of someone who has actually tested her spiritual studies against everyday challenges, Dr. Dana offers a trustworthy, down-to-earth guide to recognizing the typical lies we all tell ourselves—and how to stop believing them.
"Dr. Dana Marrocco's beautifully written guide through the ego's biggest lies is a heavenly compass for spiritual progress. Grounded in psychology and academic research, The Top Ten Lies We Tell Ourselves invites the reader to walk through an internal process of compassionate self-awareness to turn our fearful perceptions on their heads and return to a high-voltage perception of love. Dr. Dana's series of exercises takes us beyond the limitations of our conditioning and fear-based mental hooks to a brighter experience of life." — Lyna Rose, author, Enlighten Your Life
"The Top Ten Lies We Tell Ourselves is a humorous look at the upside-down, fearful thought system of the ego part of our mind. By exposing our most common but not-so-obvious beliefs, this book will help you shift your mind to a right-side-up way of thinking, thereby freeing your mind from fear and setting you on a path of peace. The exercises throughout facilitate this awakening, and the twenty-four-hour challenges are brilliant!" — Corinne Zupko, EdS, author of From Anxiety to Love
"Open this book, begin to read, and see if you can't find the truth, which will make you free. According to A Course in Miracles, we do not perceive our own best interests and need clarity to better understand what those interests are. This is an overall theme in Dr. Dana's conscientiously written book, reinforcing the practice of looking inward with total honesty to experience the happiness we deserve." — Jon Mundy, PhD, author, Living A Course in Miracles
"Dr. Dana's voice speaks to me exactly where it helps most. She points to the hidden traps I have fallen into and how I can reverse my addictive beliefs that led me down the rabbit hole. The reader can easily identify with the 'ten lies' we grew up with, mistakes that weakens us, and will persist until we change our mind. I recommend this book to anyone who chooses to see things differently and stop living the mistakes of the past." — H. David Fishman, author, Into Oneness
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About the Author
Dana Marrocco is a writer, motivational speaker, singer/songwriter, and self-help stand-up comedian. She received a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Purdue University, specializing in theories of learning and motivation. She frequently speaks at churches and retreats across the Northeast, often in the form of musical skits mixed with lectures. She holds a weekly teaching spot on the spiritual radio show ACIM Gather and performs original music with her band, Dr. Dana and the Infinite Patients.
Read an Excerpt
NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING RIGHT
(and, of course, you always are)
Most likely, your first reaction to hearing this lie is, "Boy, do I know someone who believes that!" If we are being honest with ourselves, though, we all have a knee-jerk reaction to find the jerk "out there" who's responsible for any given problem before a finger can possibly be pointed at ourselves. Many times, we automatically look outward for the source of the problem when it comes to assigning blame.
This is because we unknowingly suffer from the worldwide epidemic of "directionality confusion." In other words, we have to learn that nothing is coming at us, mandating our immediate judgment and response. In fact, it's all coming from us — although we would certainly rather not accept this as the way things are.
What appears to be happening is that there are thousands upon thousands (a reliable, endless supply) of faulty, wrong-thinking human beings around us — from willful, mind-blowing idiots all the way down to those hapless, good-natured people who just don't know any better. All these people are regularly saying or doing things that we can easily judge as clearly wrong. Thus we join the endless crusade of the ego: to elevate each of us personally as the gold standard of all that's right and sensible. Of course, that requires constant vigilance in order to keep seeing who is in the wrong and point them out for everyone's benefit.
But what if everything is actually happening in the other direction? We can't entirely suppress the ego's hidden anxiety, which is that — for each of us — I'm the one who iswrong about everything. Specifically, I was profoundly wrong that separating from my Source would be an improvement on perfection. Since I unconsciously fear being punished for this mindless choice, I must invent an "other" who is wrong, so I can pretend I am right. To make it more convincing, I'll make up countless millions of others who are wrong about this or that, and I'll make up just a few choice others who mostly agree with me. Thus the battle lines are drawn. It's guaranteed that I'll always be outnumbered, so I can feel persecuted, perhaps even leading to my eventual martyrdom. To make all this even more convincing, I'll choose to forget I made up the whole mess.
(lying on a couch is optional)
Classical psychology can shed some light on this budding awareness. Anna Freud was Sigmund's youngest child of six. Her father was the first to articulate that whatever we suppress in ourselves we project onto others. Anna took it a step further with the idea of reaction formation — that is, when a person avoids one position (being wrong) by insisting the opposite is true (being right).
We can use this concept to measure our resistance to change and growth. The greater the certainty we feel that we're right about anything in particular, the greater our unwillingness to acknowledge that we are actually wrong about everything. In her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, Anna explained that "indications of obsessional exaggeration suggest that it is of the nature of a reaction (formation) and that it conceals a long-standing conflict." Additionally, this human tendency acts as a form of "permanent protection." This means that we cover our tracks well, or at least we think we have. However, both the Course and the Freuds are happy to point out that what we deny inside is clearly visible outside. We only need look at our perception of the world to have a perfect view of this hidden conflict in action. To the extent I believe what needs changing is out in the world or external, I can pretend it's not within me.
But denial has its perks: we get to be God ... or sort of. That is, we choose to live in a massive illusion that we're projecting at every moment and calling it "reality."
THE (BLAME) GAME OF LIFE
The Course asks us, "Do you prefer that you be right or happy?" The answer depends on who you want to hang out with. If the ego is your constant companion, being right makes you happy, but that kind of happiness depends on identifying who is wrong. The ego can show you just how effortless that task is and how big the reward: never having to look at your own part in your troubles.
If Spirit is your guide, though, admitting the wrongness of everything the ego has been telling you is the path to lasting happiness. Spirit will gently correct your error in thinking and, once corrected, your natural flow of happiness will emerge. Happiness can even become your new normal, for it's something you actually already possess in abundance.
A required first step is to look deeply at our unconscious need to assign blame. Frankly, I've noticed that it feels good to make at least ten people wrong before my morning tea! Watching the news as soon as I wake up speeds up this process considerably, so turning on the box full of idiots is so helpful when I'm in a hurry. Otherwise, the cast of characters in my own house will do fine for starters. Assigning blame is like the gravitational pull holding us securely in this made-up world. But when we stop blaming, we can literally float above this world like an astronaut in training.
Let's continue our experiment with weightlessness. I invite you to lose your "self" and find your "Self" in this chart, starting with our default setting and working up to our final destination — a complete and total shift in perception of wrong vs. right.
1. "It's not complicated. You are obviously wrong!" This phase affords us a sense of superficial peace. There is considerable unrest below the surface, but it gets blown off with regularity, just like the geyser Old Faithful. The release of this unconscious pressure — in the form of spouting out accusations — is an irresistible attraction. And our accusations are always justified — we make sure of that by inventing a stupid world that constantly needs our corrections! Here, the ego reigns supreme without question. And the world of bodies is "proof of life" in this phase. Of course we are separate bodies with separate interests, separate wills, and separate destinies, fighting amongst ourselves for control of the whole mess. Only a New Age crazy would think otherwise. Right?
2. "It's a little tricky, but who am I kidding? I'm probably right." Here we've taken a small but monumental step in the right direction. It implies a slight willingness to be wrong, even if it is limited to a particular situation for a fleeting moment. Although the ego allows the possibility of taking some responsibility for wrongness, the "other" is by no means off the hook. However, this shift in thinking is a start worth recognizing.
3. "Your hands are just as dirty as mine. Who really knows who's at fault?" Still guided primarily by the ego, this kind of uncertainty is yet focused on the external, made-up world — the realm of endless problems and no solutions. The willingness to no longer view ourselves as blameless in the whole mess is of great significance. However, insufficient trust has been established in the "other way" to stay with it long enough to reap the rewards. It can actually feel like you're joining with others here, but the attitude of "I'm a lowlife; you're a lowlife. Cheers!" is no way to reach the high life.
4. "I see the pattern now. I've needed you to be wrong over and over again." This is a fragile but empowering phase. It is terrifying to release all others as recipients of blame, for the weight of the world now rests singly on our own shoulders. It's precisely here, though, that we get a first glimpse at our limitless power that we have misused and denied. What if we could fix it all for ourselves and everyone? Would we do it if we were shown exactly how?
5. "It's not complicated. I am playing both sides and making the whole thing up!" Finally, a triumph over the ego. The faulty idea that we could be separate from each other and our Source despite "evidence" in the world is now discredited under the proper framework. There is no longer a fear-based payoff to avoid self-punishment by making the "other" wrong, because it is understood that there is no "other." Personally, you are not to blame either, for there is no personal version of you. We are all released from blame together. We are truly at peace, for we are secure in our identification with our inherent oneness.
We must be gentle and patient with ourselves in this process. We can't go from the bottom of the chart to the top in an instant. Well, we could actually, but our resistance to healing is usually too strong for that to occur. It takes time, but that's what time is for when used correctly — for healing instead of hiding in blame and shame.
CAN I GET A WITNESS?
The Course tells us that "the world you see is but the idle witness that you were right." Our world is idle because nothing is really happening here that has any effect on eternity. The word witness is used since we are watching this nonsense — and only watching, even though we think we're intimately involved. The reference to "you were right" is written in past tense because we see only the past. It's over, and we'll experience all conflict as over when we're ready to give it up. We must feel safe enough to do so. But since we are almost always secretly thinking that something catastrophic already happened, and will keep happening because of what we think we did, the smoke screen is hard to see through.
There will come a time when we realize that we've been watching a dark and sinister, poorly written rerun, with a shockingly happy ending! Stock up on popcorn while you can.
IT'S AN EXERCISE
(mental stretching required)
Find a moment to connect with your thoughts. You don't have to be sitting in full lotus with your favorite scented candle burning. The physical environment will never ensure our peace of mind because we didn't set up the world that way. So however you choose to center yourself in the midst of our constant chaos, find the tiniest bit of space in your mind and use it. Ask yourself these two important questions:
1. Who have I locked up in a penitentiary for the eternally "wrong"?
2. What judge do I consult to confirm my sentencing of others?
My answers to these questions always reflect what I don't want to face in myself at any given moment, that someone else must be wrong for me to feel right. And since that "release" of tension is short-lived, it only makes sense that I have a vast pool of options to serve as the accused. I've come to realize that whether I do the accusing myself or witness other's accusations, it has a similar effect of appeasing my little self at the expense of remembering my True Self.
When I worked in an office setting and was feeling underappreciated, I'd have lunch with colleagues who were certain to bash the boss along with me. Or, even better, I'd let someone else rant and say nothing, nodding my head in agreement while thinking that I was better than the person ranting. It felt so good to have someone else to do the dirty work for me!
If my kids are breaking me down, I call on a girlfriend to talk about bad parenting choices of our mutual friends or bad parents who make headlines. Maybe that's why my children act out right next to me, which is so "wrong," but at least I don't have to do the kicking and screaming myself. I get to remain the peacemaker while still unknowingly enjoying the fighting vicariously.
When my security feels threatened — like when we recently relocated our family — nothing does the trick like reopening childhood wounds. I'll call my sister, Lisa, to talk about all the things our parents didn't do to help us feel secure. We know that script of timeworn complaints very well, and we can efficiently get right to it when we need to. It's so nice to be of assistance to each other in this ruse!
As for my husband, forget it! I try to be subtle about it, but generally he serves as my reliable wellspring of wrongness. I use him like a cell phone that needs a daily boost on the charger. It's not that I complain out loud. In fact I rarely share the list of all the ways he is wrong. I keep it private for my own personal enjoyment, although it feels more like compulsive necessity than enjoyment, if I'm being honest.
THE VOLCANO WITHIN
These questionable habits remind me of the famous line from the movie Knotting Hill. Instead of Julia Roberts poignantly saying, "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love me," I'm more like, "I'm just a girl, sitting on top of a volcano, trying to keep it from blowing my judgmental hatred everywhere and burning you all alive." What I've learned from my daily interactions with others is that lurking underneath the most minor irritation is a raging inferno.
Looking beyond our inner circles of family, friends, and colleagues, we can use strangers, foreigners, and crazy people in the news in the same way. It's simple sport to blame and judge other people, plucking their faults off the blame tree like they are low-hanging fruit. But we all harbor murderous thoughts and can find them if we look deeply enough.
I used to follow the common instinct that says, "Don't look!" That didn't really work, though, and that's why I was crippled with depression for most of my first forty years. The good news is there is another way. It's dependent on our willingness to look at the darkness — the big picture of how we've been mistaken about everything, including our own identity — but not alone. The light of Spirit can guide us through it.
IT'S A LIFE-OR-DEATH MATTER
"Are thoughts, then, dangerous?" asks the Course, and answers: "To bodies, yes!" However, the Course also makes it clear that never, even for an instant, have we ever been in a body. Dr. Kenneth Wapnick expanded on the danger of thoughts in his book Journey through the Text of A Course in Miracles: "We have judgmental thoughts and suddenly feel them in our bodies and become ill, or think we have hurt others who in retaliation will cause us pain and upset." He goes on to quote the Course as follows: "The thoughts that seem to kill are those that teach the thinker that he can be killed. And so he 'dies' because of what he learned."
It was our own decision then, for the illusion of vulnerability that effectively denied our changeless invulnerability. Yet this predicament can be reversed merely by acknowledging it. We can recognize that we are immortal right now,not at some point in the future if we're deemed worthy!
It follows then that we've been "wrong" about death. It's a concept contrived from nothing, and to nothing it shall return when we no longer have a purpose for it: as an imagined punishment for the false sin of destroying perfect oneness. Death does not represent a natural process, a random event, a punishment, an escape, or any change at all. We made a decision to be in this world, which we could do only by becoming a dream figure. But, in fact, we are not of this world. Our Source of love is unaware and unaffected by our collective dream of what love's opposite looks, feels, and smells like. Just like a sleeping dream that can seem so very real, we will awaken from it entirely and understand its complete and total unreality.
Until then, we no longer need concern ourselves with who is being punished enough in the dream. This dream is an equal opportunity punisher. Justice will not prevail because the dream itself is an injustice. There is no natural order, only natural disorder. Even if things appear to be going your way and you momentarily attain near-perfection in body, status, or even love, it's all on the way out. Nothing impermanent is real. We are afraid to acknowledge all this because it sounds like extreme pessimism. Yet what lies just beyond extreme pessimism — nothing will ever be right — is permanent optimism or our remembrance that all is right. It can be no other way except in a dream.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Top Ten Lies We Tell Ourselves"
Copyright © 2018 Dr. Dana Marrocco.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
CONTENTS FOREWORD by Gary R. Renard PREFACE INTRODUCTIONLIE #10: NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING RIGHTLIE # 9: THERE IS NOT ENOUGH OF ANYTHING TO GO AROUND, SO TAKE YOUR SHARE BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLELIE # 8: CHAOS IS BUSINESS AS USUAL, SO GET USED TO ITLIE # 7: THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE WHO CAN FINALLY COMPLETE YOU, SO NEVER STOP SEARCHINGLIE # 6: YOU MUST FIND A WAY TO BE TRULY UNIQUE OR BETTER THAN OTHERSLIE # 5: YOU MUST ATTACK FIRST AND OFTEN, OR RISK BEING DEFEATEDLIE # 4: THE PERSON WHO CAN HOLD A GRUDGE THE LONGEST WINSLIE # 3: REACTING OUT OF FEAR COMES NATURALLY, SO STICK WITH THE PROGRAMLIE # 2: LOVE IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS AND CAN REALLY MESS WITH YOUR HEAD. AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS!LIE #1: YOU CAN’T COUNT ON ANYONE BUT YOURSELF (AND BY THE WAY, YOU’RE A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT) ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INDEX OF REFERENCES ABOUT THE AUTHOR