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Your But Is Too Big

by Dr. Amy Johnson on September 28, 2017

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When I was seven or eight years old, I got to pick out two flavored lip balms from my mom’s Avon catalog. The flavors I chose were Banana Split and Strawberry Shortcake. 

The lip balms came in tubes just like real, grown up lipstick. This was the highlight of my summer, no kidding.

The fancy-looking Avon lady delivered them a couple weeks later and I took them to a private corner in our backyard. I looked at them in the tube for a while, pretending I was an adult and this was the lipstick I was going to wear on my date that night.

I rolled the tubes around in my hands; placed them in and out of my little white purse.

Then I took the top off of one and spun the dial on the bottom, winding the waxy lip balm as high as it would go and then back down again a few times.

They smelled so good. So realistic, exactly like a real life banana split and a real life strawberry shortcake.

My seven- or eight-year-old little mind was so duped by the grown-up-ness of those tubes and the delicious, sweet smell that I couldn’t help myself—I took a big, waxy bite out of one.

I can’t remember which flavor I ate but the illusion was instantly squashed as I spit out flavored wax. What was I thinking? I wondered as I came to the sad realization that I was down to only one precious, imitation lipstick.

I knew it wasn’t a banana split or strawberry shortcake but my senses took over. I was caught up in the illusion.

There are countless things in life like my lip balm; things that appear some way they are not.

It’s what happens every time I bake with my kids and they beg for a taste of cocoa. Unsweetened cocoa is pretty horrible. “Pleeeease?” they beg. It looks so much like chocolate they can’t begin to fathom that it doesn’t taste like chocolate too.

It’s what happens when you watch one of those rare, amazing, award-winning movies that you can’t stop thinking about for days afterward. It’s a fictional story, shot on an artificial movie set, with special effects to the max.

“But it was so gripping!” you argue to yourself as you wonder why you’re still obsessing over the characters two days later. You know it’s make believe. Those characters who now feel like family members aren’t actual people you know. But none of that matters.

No one would argue with your experience because that really is your experience.

The cocoa looks so good there in the mixer.

The movie was heart-wrenching and the characters were so real.

They are very real thoughts with very real and vivid feelings attached to them. The mirage is a solid one, no doubt. But just because the cocoa looks good, the lip balm smells delicious, and movie felt like real life doesn’t make it so. 

It’s the same with anxiety, depression, that break up, and the habit you’ve been trying to kick for two decades. The feeling of them doesn’t reflect the truth of them.

I know, the anxiety feels terrifying and it seems like you need to do something to fix it.

And, none of that is the truth about it.

The depression, the break up, the habit…they feel overwhelming.

Your experience is your very real experience, but just because your experience is vivid and dramatic doesn’t mean life is full of danger and bad news.

If you’ve been looking toward the Principles that make life make sense for a while now and it hasn’t changed your life in some way, there’s an excellent chance your but is too big.

Mine was for a while too, don’t worry. It’s very common and usually very temporary.

But…I get so caught up in these thoughts and emotions.”

But…the unpleasant thinking that runs through my head feels so true. I know it isn’t, but…it feels that way.”

But…it’s been this way for so long.”

“I know my thinking is illusory and always changing, but…”

But…I’m just not sure I can trust that I am innately healthy yet.”

“I get that all is well and I am actually safe, but…”

If you want to see the truth about how free and well you truly are, you’ll want to look toward that and away from what appear to be exceptions.

I know, your experience doesn’t feel safe. But it is. “But it doesn’t feel that way…” keeps you staring squarely at the illusion with your back toward the truth.

I know, there is copious evidence that the world is going to hell and people are inherently cruel. If you look for it, you’ll find it.

So stop looking for it. If you want to see something different, stop looking only at how things appear.

If you want evidence of innate health and hope and freedom, I promise you that you’ll find it but you have to stop staring at your own but.

You aren’t afraid of sailing off the edge of the earth anymore despite how it appears. I’m no longer eating delicious smelling lip balm despite how it smells. 

It’s okay to look past the feeling of your in-this-moment-thought-created-experience so that you can pivot and look toward what’s actually true.

Focus less on how life appears and more on how it truly works.

You’ll see a lot more truth that way.

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