I listen to audiobooks in my car because I am on the road a lot. Just my drive to and from work everyday is near 1.5 hours. In the passed few weeks I've listen to over 20 hours combined of Leah Remini's book Troublemaker and Amy Cuddy's Presence. I don't know if it came from the crossover of information taken in from two different sources so close together but it really gave me laser focus on how we all live and believe.
A good 50% or more of Amy's book is the research that has been done to test the notion of what makes us confident. That may not in fact be how others would describe it but it's my take on it. It sets out to prove whether we "smile because we are happy or if we are happy because we smile."
Leah's book is more than 11 hours of her experience with the Church of Scientology. With this book you get an in depth look at the way this organization uses the guise of religion to brainwash it's members into giving more money to the church than they actually have. They make their members feel like they aren't doing their part to save the world when they don't give everything they have. Their teachings provide a way to hold people hostage by making them repent at every reported transgression even if they are unfounded. The only way to find repentance is by paying money or by purchasing expensive lessons that teach you into repentance.
These were the things I've marinated my mind in lately and here is what I have taken from it. Most of us feel like we fall short. I'm not sure what it is we think we fall short of but I can say that when religion is involved it usually provides us with an alter to lay our shortcomings on. So easily we fall into the notion that we always need to be repenting. If we didn't follow the teachings of the religions we choose we'd still feel as though we fall short but we'd have nothing to blame it on but that we just don't measure up. But here's the thing. We do measure up. The reason we think we do not measure up is because we use the wrong tool to measure. It's like we are using a ruler when we actually need scales.
Somehow it gets ingrained in us that there is a set standard of beingness. We spend so much of our lives trying to adhere to this standard that we lose track of what makes us unique beings. We forget what makes us a me and not a them. We all just want to be them so much that our path becomes consumed with that instead of being the best version of ourselves.
Listening to Leah's account of what happened to her tortured me. I am not sure how you go from being so focused with following the teachings precisely, to the point it has built walls around you and then to being completely free in the world. I would hope it would be beautiful but I have a stinging feeling she forgets she is free on a lot of days.
Most religions bound you in a permanent contract whether real or imagined. Somewhere in the laws there will be one that does not allow you to leave without dire consequence. It's what makes you stay even when you are being hurt by it rather than being helped by it. So, you are either in all the way or if you are not, then you are not living up to the required standard. All of this then teaches you that what you are is not good enough. I like who I am and none of this feels okay with me. It's why I know that these types of religions are never going to be part of my life. I'm so thankful to have escaped when I was still such a young adult. I've had so many years of happiness because I don't follow rules that make me feel like who I am is not exactly what I should be.
I would never even suggest people change their beliefs without doing the work. But, I will say that if your religion doesn't leave you feeling like being exactly you is the most beautiful thing you can do for the world then you might want to look at it a little closer.
Amy's work takes you to a whole new level by proving that what we are is good enough. She gives us the tools to stand ourselves straighter in who we are and go be that as hard as we can. She figured out the human version of what animals do when they show their strength and charge into battle and is asking us to incorporate it into the times in our life when we need it. Guess what folks, it works.
In the post before this one I embedded a video of a talk that Amy Cuddy did about presence and being your boldest self. If you missed it please go and watch it now. You could be a bolder you in 2 minutes.
I hope I made the point I meant to make with this post but like with most of my posts, it's all about the simple act of daring to be who you really are.