5 Tools That Help Me Identify the Truth

I’m pausing on my story for a second because I want to share the tools and resources I have used to help me get out of the muck of confusion and on to where I am today– a bloody-knuckled, throw-down, all-out battle with my expectations for myself and, consequently, the expectations other people have of me.

Don’t you want to join me here? *inserts cynical laugh*

I joke, but these resources aren’t for the cynical. They’re constructive and assume you are willing to work hard to be happy. They’re also butt-kicking. The first three are for everyone, plus two faith-based resources for persons of faith.

My first encounter with the idea of critical thinking was in nursing school. You can find lots of resources with a smile Google search, including several TED Talks. For the academics, there’s actually a public library of critical thinking. I recommend it because it gives me a concrete step to take when I need a solution for an unstructured problem. And it’s about using a resource I have already–my own brain– and about using it in the most correct way possible.

Closely related to critical thinking is adopting a growth mindset. There’s also a TED talk on that which singularly made a difference for me. I can’t find it now, but I’m guessing it was one of these.

Until 2019, I hated running (I think it’s because I ran faster than I could breathe. Running to the beat of music that made me think I was dancing was how I tricked myself into liking it. I’ve listened to some pretty trashy stuff, but I know how to run now).

Running helped me in two ways.

First, it was physical proof that I could grow, by myself, without anyone’s input or approval. When I ran 6.3 miles without stopping last summer, I hate the photo of me crossing the finish line. It’s a picture of me as a shadow of myself, and at my most broken point. But it’s the moment when I realized what I’d accomplished, all by myself, and that’s why I kept it.

The second thing running helped me do was it gave me a healthy space to think. I used to pour a glass of wine on nights I wanted to do creative work and my busy mind was in the way. Running is exactly the same and yet completely different. Running is usually when I finally see clearly something I’ve been circling for a long time. I wrote the first three of these posts right after a run.

This will get long. Skim if you’re bored.

I posted about telling myself the truth a few posts ago. In this book, Hollis reveals the lies she told herself and encourages people to see those lies for what they are. It was excellent. It also helps to know the following about her content.

Women face massive walls built up by traditions that over-specify our roles and identities, and Hollis (a Christian with a socially diverse audience) found a way to heave herself over some of them. This book is about critical thinking and deciding to face-head on whoever it is you know in your heart that you were created to be, despite your mental obstacles.

She doesn’t always differentiate between the person you are and the things you accomplish. Her commentary can be applied unhealthily depending on your own inner context (kind of like me wanting to go to Yale). But what I hear her saying when she encourages you to be “better than yesterday”, for example, is that she accepted her own significance and went on to allow herself to achieve things she desired to.

The unique audience she’s built leaves her open to criticism. There’s a weird idea out there that women become “disciples” of a social influencer and swallow a doctrine made by that influencer whole. Whatever choices the influencer made, whatever post she posted, the assumption goes, will be ingested and metabolized. Can I just say something?

That’s dumb. This is a book about not telling yourself lies. It’s a good idea not to tell yourself lies. My two cents–take it for what it is, be open-minded, enjoy the diverse world we live in, and don’t be weird about it.

For persons of faith, a fourth and fifth resource.

Different than a life coach or therapist (I’ve got one of each in my contacts, though, so please don’t hear me saying I don’t support them), a spiritual director helps you listen to your intuition and commune with God. I’m a Christian and my director is awesome. Her name is Jennifer Freeman, and she’s helped hundreds of people get closer to God and overcome their fears about their own spirituality. Email me if you want her details!

If a history of religious extremism or hyper-fundamentalism stands the way of your desired faith journey, I am right there with you. My faith issues aren’t linear, they come in flare-ups. Like when I think I hear someone who abused me reading Ephesians 5 and telling me I was going to have a forced marriage because that’s what God says I have to have, I often stop reading. The Message is in a fresh vernacular and I love it because this never happens.

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