Here is the full transcript of New York Times bestselling author Caroline Myss’ TEDx Talk Presentation: Choices That Can Change Your Life at TEDxFindhornSalon Conference. To learn more about the speaker, read the full bio here.
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Caroline Myss – New York Times bestselling author
As someone who has been in the healing arts for many many years – well, for some years — I am an observer — those of us who are in the healing arts, we are observers of the patterns that mystify us in what makes: Why do we become ill? Why do we break down? What helps us to become better? I mean, we are great mysteries to each other. And I find it so interesting that for all the years that we continue to study us, that we are such mysteries, which should tell us right off the bat that we continue to open places within ourselves, that we ourselves as we are the observers, that we are continuing to learn how to observe. And that we as human beings are continuing to find places to observe.
Let us say that the world behind our eye is our new frontier. And that we have become intrigued with ourselves in a way that other generations have not. That this is the new frontier; we are the new frontier.
And so observing, for example, why we become ill, why we don’t heal has a different meaning than, if that question were asked before World War 2. The depth to which we now look at ourselves and the depth to which we’re asking that question is a whole gram compared to how once upon a time they asked and they were maybe looking for an infection. We are looking for a story, a narrative, reasons that are a complexity.
When I’ve been working with people now for three and a half decades, and as an observer of people, there’s so many many things I could share with you but I’ve narrowed them down for obvious reasons — and to choice — I want to emphasize the power of choice. And perhaps there was a time when we wouldn’t even talk about it but we have to talk about that today, because choice is a fundamental power of the human experience.
We need to put choice as an authority, as a power that is so huge, that if I ran the world, this is where you should say that’s a good idea but – if I ran the world, I would make studying the power of choice part of every school curriculum. That everyone should learn, that the power of the choices you make have infinite consequences. From the littlest choice to something that is great big huge and that here’s the paradox: you have no idea what a little choice is or a big choice.
What we are used to doing is believing that a big choice is an obvious one: buying a house, getting married. Getting divorced. In fact, those are your small choices. The choices that actually matter when it comes to your health, when it comes to healing, when it comes to positioning yourself, empowering yourself are the tiny ones that — that are the choices I should say that you think have the least power that you make in the privacy of your own company. That perhaps you think have the most — they’re the most insignificant — I have found repeatedly repeatedly, are the most powerful choices of your life, the most powerful, that have the most powerful impact on your biology, on your inner — on your soul, on your sense of who you are, on your well-being, on your whole life map.
I’ll tell you something else that these are the types of statements that are dicey to make, because if someone said I want you to bring proof of this in a basket, I couldn’t do it. But if you listen with your heart and your gut, and see if it doesn’t settle well they’re like good chicken soup.
So I’m going to take you through choices, the kind of choices that if you came to me and said I don’t feel well — I don’t feel well and I have chronic, chronic-ness. And I go from one chronic-ness to another. I have chronic, chronic-nesses, I am always a Chromagen. Nothing makes me happy. I am always complaining and I ache and I’m exhausted. And almost make an exhaustion but I don’t.
And I almost like my life but I actually don’t. And I almost can love someone but not really. I almost make it there where I actually feel loved but I don’t actually really feel it. I think I feel it, so I think feel, I think feel. And every now and again I get to get a love high but it doesn’t last. I take two aspirins of passes.
But then I think maybe it is but then it’s not, but then it is but it almost is but not quite. So I go to a therapist: is this love? But if I try hard enough but maybe, so I find someone to blame. Chronic-ness — there’s never been people like us who have these issues. We’re extraordinary in our issues.
And as I go into this, here’s another thing that is unique about us and put this in your chicken soup belly. We are born knowing certain things; we’re wired for it. It’s in our instinct, it’s in our spiritual instincts, it’s in our soul DNA. We are born knowing that choice is powerful. Choice is the most powerful thing we got going for us and we know it. And that’s the reason why we’re terrified to make a choice. I have somebody, where you want to go for dinner. I don’t know; pick a restaurant, no; can’t even pick a restaurant. People are terrified of making choices. Terrified of the consequence you choose. Terrified of being held accountable for a consequence. Well, I don’t know what I want to do; I’ll think about it, then morning — the day your mind gets the day shift your night gets — your heart gets the night shift.
Your mind says, well, I think your heart says I feel. And you know what the two of them talk to each other, because if they do that you actually have to do something. Choice terrifies people. So most people will do anything to postpone making choices. So I’m going to help you out. We’re going to go through a list of choices that matter — that matter, that make a difference.
The first choice is the decision to actually live an Integris life. And when I say make a choice to do that, this kind of thing I mean. I don’t mean well, I live a good life, no, no no. I’m talking full scale, I’m going to walk the way I talk. I’m actually going to do it. I’m in a little life of integrity. I’m going to — never mind this speak my truth, I’m actually going to tell the truth.
I’m going to live with integrity. I’m going to make my choices according to what I say I believe I’m going to live. I will not — and what this means is that I’m not going to be trade myself. I’m not going to compromise myself. I’m not going to put myself in a position or put myself in any circumstance or if I’m in a circumstance I am getting out, or I won’t force another person, I won’t force another person. To be in a circumstance in which I know that I am uncomfortable in order to please me. I won’t hold another person captive because that has no integrity. I will not do that.
Now let me tell you something. Liars don’t heal. Liars don’t heal, so you can eat all the wheat grass you want and you could do all this stuff with seeds and vegetables. But an honest person who eats cat food will go further than you. Dishonest people, people who lie, people who have moral crises and do not get it, people who blame others for things that they do and they know it. People who make choices and they know another person is going to pay for the consequence of their choice and they are conscious of it. They know for a fact that they are saying something that is not true and they know another person is going to be hurt by that. People who deliberately say things to hurt somebody. Believe you me, your body knows you did that. Your mind knows you did that; your heart and soul knows you did that. So you know you did that.
So don’t tell yourself under any circumstances that the problem with your depression comes from your childhood. Don’t go there knock it off, and make the decision — the decision to live an Integris life. Means get this act together. So it’s not as simple as saying I’m a good person; knock it off. This is major league.
Second, you’re taking notes? You make a decision. I will not pass my suffering on but my wisdom. I make the decision not to pass on my suffering but my wisdom. So that from the years of your life, you make the decision, the gifts that I have to pass on – I either pass on the wisdom I’ve learned. Or I will pass on at this stage the suffering. Oh my poor life — or go harvest the wisdom. What do you want to pass on? The sludge or the wisdom. That’s up to you. Everybody has a choice and everybody can pass on but again it’s the choice. It’s the choice, we all have that and believe me I am not saying we don’t have grief, we don’t have pain.
But if we look at life there are certain things that all spiritual — the great religious traditions, the great spiritual holy traditions have in common. And one of the lessons of these traditions — one of the great learnings is that life will never be that wonderful rich thing that we wanted to do, which is what we call fair. It will never be that. It will never be, well that’s why this happened.