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.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Choices that can Change your Life by Caroline Myss at TEDxFindhornSalon
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 they are 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.
I had someone tell me one time, well if I only knew, if I only knew why this happened to me and I said then what difference would that make. What if God sent an angel and the angel said what do you want? I mean you’ve been banging around down here; what do you want? I want to know why this happened and this happened and this happened. What if the angel said because it did. Now what?
Now here’s the thing. Some of the grief and injuries that have happened to people are so horrible, it’s unbelievable. And the truth is nothing can make that go away; nothing can make that better and the model of healing that we have to have is a model that says healing is not about ever forgetting those things; it’s not about forgetting. It’s about looking at what has happened to us and saying this will never defeat me. It will never defeat me but I will not live in this. I have to somehow turn this into my source of wisdom but I will not live in wealth. I will not. And that becomes this choice. I have to choose wisdom or wealth but I can’t make it go away and if you can’t make it go away, then that is the choice wisdom or wealth.
The third, the choice to take risks. Take risks in your life. Don’t wait for proof. Take risks. And how does this factor into your house? Because what happens is people who – what happens when people become ill and they feel their life force diminishing. They always hit regrets, you will always hit the regret stage. You will always hit the ‘oh I should have done this, I should have done that, I should have’ — you will always hit that place as you begin to feel yourself weakening. Even if you’re going to go right back up. You’ll hit the regret stage in which you visit the life you wish you had lived.
Even if you just have a cold, and one of the regrets that happens when you, when we, when all of us begin to diminish in our strength and stamina is we review the life we should have had had we taken risks. Had we not lived the life in which the way and we make our decisions was based on the fear of being humiliated; what if I’m humiliated by this. What if I can’t take the consequences of it? What if I’m too frightened? What if I’m alone? What if this cost me too much money? Well what if? And to this I would say go home and ask yourself how many of my greatest fears have actually really happened? How many have actually really happened? How many of my greatest fears have really happened and then actually calculate, write down: how many of the most wonderful things that have happened to me? Did I actually have anything to do with?
And probably to — I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt there, because if you look and add most of the best things that ever happened to you, you didn’t have anything to do with. And if you think how did this happen. Probably through a lot of things that you know nothing about that were actually very risky and you didn’t even know that. Don’t take the safe path. Don’t tell yourself that because when you are making decisions about what to do, don’t look backwards for guidance, because there’s nothing quote back there. The reason you are where you are is because that part of your life is over. Don’t look for OVER. To chart new. Don’t go there.
When it’s time to make a decision about I don’t know what to do next, do not go to who you were what you did. Because it will pull you back perhaps even to places that don’t exist anymore to images of yourself that are no more; you are not that person. And one of the ways to weaken you is that it causes you to long for things that are no longer appropriate and they’re not in the field yet to come. What builds vitality would build the desire to live your life fully and be present. It is for you to say it’s time for something new, be in the newness not afraid of it. Be in that newness! Be there.
Next, choose new words. I love this; I love this one. When I was growing up — I am a wordsmith — I’m a writer, I’m a wordsmith. But I absolutely adore words. I actually went to bed reading the dictionary. And because every word is a universe unto itself. Every single word and in my workshop sometime if it’s appropriate, I tell people what I want you to do is come back tomorrow with three words you’re going to give me; no, make up one — that you will never use again. Just one, I just want one word, and you will never use it again; never. And I get to have everything that comes with that word; everything. And I don’t care if the word is two-letter, three, four; I just want one word.
So imagine if you decided, OK I’ll give you the word bug; I give you the word blue, then you’ll never see blue again. Now if I really really want you to go home sometime, in the next couple of days after you hear this talk, and think about if you really had to yank a word out of your head which meant you had to take the whole world that went with that word out of your head, what would you give that person what word zebra, you’d never see a zebra again, you really want to give up saying that animal. OK and everything that went with that.
Now when someone says your thoughts and your words are not powerful, go to that exercise and come in through that door. And then construct the words that you say to another person, word by word and how powerful every single word is that not only that you say to another person but that you say to yourself.
What are the words you say to yourself? Words that you should never utter again to yourself. Words that you should never ever use. Words that you should say what is that word doing in my head. When we finally do quantum energy medicine, micro energy medicine, we will finally do analysis — energy analysis at a level that includes the power of the vocabulary that we use. And we will be able to say to people your vocabulary is so toxic. That the vibration of your neurology includes thoughts, includes frequencies that is so toxic that even if you do visualization, it is offset by a vocabulary that is organically so negative. I don’t care what your visualization is. Your vocabulary is fundamentally hostile. It is hostile, if I had to rate your vocabulary it is fundamentally a hostile one toward everything you see, toward everyone and toward yourself. You get up in the morning and you are hostile. Your first thoughts are angry; you see your life is not enough; you see others is not enough. Your first reaction to everything is critical. Your first reaction is this is not good enough; they’re not good enough.
And you hold as to words power words, blame and deserve, I blame them and I deserve this and you feel entitled. Three words that are lethal: entitled, blame and deserve. And if you could extricate those three words from your head, you have no idea how much better you would feel. If you never used those three words again, I would tell you right now you depressions would be much less, because you are not entitled to anything. Blaming others — blaming everything will take you out of your present. And it will absolutely put such toxic perceptions in you. And you realize that all you have to think about is who’s blaming you for something. And then just picture how many people are blaming you and how would you like to dwell on that thought.
Because if you’re blaming others, I assure you someone’s blaming you, someone’s in therapy because they know you. So stop looking at the world through your eyes.
Finally, make this choice. Choose to get up every day and bless your day. Choose to get up every single day and bless your day. And you say I have no idea what’s going to be in my day but it is blessed, why? Because I am alive. And don’t base your gratitude for your life on what you have or how you feel. But just because you are. Just because you are. Just because you are. And then hold in your heart this prayer. This day of my life will never come again. I will never see the people I am looking at again. I will never see this sunrise again and I will never see that sunset. I will never see the person having breakfast with me again. Just this way. You know, nothing in my life like this will ever come again. That alone, that choice alone should take out of your heart every bitter taste there is. That it should shape the life around you with such grace and such beauty. That will make you only want to see the present with great gratitude.
Thank you everybody.