To Tell (Yourself) The Truth

By Sophia Dembling

The truth will set you free. – John 8:32

I’m not one to quote chapter and verse often (ever), but this tidbit is too wise to ignore.

I am taking it entirely out of context here so if you want to tell me where it fits into Scripture, please feel free.

But aside from all that—yes, yes, yes.

And I’m not talking about that tangled web we weave when we lie to other people. That’s a whole other mess. I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves—the most powerful, potent, and difficult to address lies.

Lies like, “I’m happy.”

Or, “I have a great job that I love.”

Or, “If I had a different relationship, I would be happy.”

Or, “If I do things this way, I can keep everyone happy.”

Or, “I’m OK as long as you’re OK.”

Lies, lies, lies.

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If Only Karma Were Dependable

By Sophia Dembling

What goes around comes around.

Yeah, if only.

This comforting quote suggests that revenge is not necessary because karma is a bitch. That person who did you wrong? He’ll get his eventually because, you know, what goes around comes around. So just sit back and wait because it’s only a matter of time.

I want to buy it, but I don’t.

I’ve seen plenty of people do plenty of crummy things and get off without so much as a psychic bruise. Well, OK, maybe they’re crying on the inside, but on the outside, they’re just going blithely along doing more crummy things.

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Chocolate-Covered Revenge

By Sophia Dembling

Living well is the best revenge.

A fine credo to live by. Noble, even. And win-win. You get your fine life, and you don’t debase yourself with some sort of tawdry act of revenge. And the other guy doesn’t have vengeance rain down on him.

I am not by nature a vengeful person. Which is not to say that I don’t hold grudges and fantasize about vengeance. But I don’t do anything about it. Instead, I say, “Living well is the best revenge,” and stay honest. And smug. I’m taking the high road.  I’m keepin’ it healthy.

But “living well is the best revenge” is like fruit for dessert. It’s tasty and it’s good for you, but it’s not chocolate. Chocolate is desert. Fruit is a mere stand-in. Unless it has chocolate on it. Then, it’s sweet revenge.

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Keep Trying, But Don’t Count On A Miracle

By Sophia Dembling

The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. Don’t give up.—The Internet*

Usually? Really? Usually when the miracle happens?

If miracles are usual, are they really miracles?

This is one of those squishy motivational quotes that goes around the Internet and makes people feel good, but that has no real substance at all. Scrutinize them too hard and they melt into a sticky mess, like strawberry ice cream on a hot sidewalk.

Nothing against perseverance, I’m 100 percent in favor of it. But a quote that guarantees a miracle is lying to you.

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Regrets You Regret and Regrets You Don’t

By Sophia Dembling

I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I haven’t. –Lucille Ball

I’m taking the Internet’s word that Lucille Ball said this, although surely someone must have said it before her. I did find a similar (typically verbose) quote from Henry James: “I don’t regret a single ‘excess’ of my responsive youth—I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.”

When I last wrote about regret, the shorter sentiment was mentioned by several readers as a favorite quote to live by. I see the appeal. It’s so…active. So devil may care. So make it happen and caution to the wind.

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Don’t Fight The Feelings (Even When They Hurt)

By Sophia Dembling

Feel the fear and do it anyway. — Susan J. Jeffers

This is the title of a self-help classic I read in 1987, when it first came out. I don’t remember much about the book, but the title stuck with me because it’s such a useful concept.

Now I’m reading a helpful book called The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher G. Germer that, at least what I’ve read so far, puts a yoga-esque, Buddhist-ish, new millennium-like spin on a similar concept.

The gist of both books is to feel what you feel. You can’t run or hide from emotions and so you might as well just have them. Accept them. Let them course through your body. And don’t hate them. Emotions aren’t bad or good. They just are. They might be comfortable and uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable never killed anyone.

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You Are What You Love And Not What Loves You Back

By Sophia Dembling

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.—Jenny Lewis

This is a lyric from a ditty by Jenny Lewis, and it has has taken my brain hostage. This little quote, the song’s hook, is on a tape loop in my head.

Lewis is singing about a stuck, mutually exploitive relationship, but I keep finding different shades of nuance in this quote.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

In a way, it’s a torch song. I’ll love him forever even if he never loves back, because he is part of my soul. It gives a little nobility to unrequited love.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

What attracts you? Who do you fall for when you fall in love? That person is mirror of your needs and self image, whether or not the love is reciprocated.

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How Pessimists Count Their Blessings

By Sophia Dembling

At least I’m not internally decapitated.

Thanks to my husband for this one.

I remember exactly the context in which we first heard the term “internally decapitated,” but out of respect, I will leave that out of this discussion. I don’t mean to be flip.

But wouldn’t you agree that internal decapitation sounds like a huge, gigantic, monumental bummer? I mean—you’re alive, yes. And that’s good. Your story isn’t over, as it would be with external decapitation.

But still…

Internal decapitation.

Yikes.

Makes a regular crappy day sound like happyfacerainbowsallthetime, don’t it?

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By Choosing Not To Have Children, I _____

By Sophia Dembling

Would raising children make the best use of what you bring to the world, or would not having kids do that? – Carolyn Hax

As Oprah used to say, frequently, raising kids is the hardest job in the world. And I don’t argue with that. (I wouldn’t dare.)

But choosing not to have kids has challenges of a different kind–not the least of which is censure from a segment of society that assumes you must be selfish, self-centered, or in arrested development.

My husband and I are childless by choice and have some very good reasons for this, which are none of your beeswax. Fortunately, I am past the age where people want to debate our decision with me, but you can’t imagine how tiresome that was. Here’s a hint, people: Asking someone who has chosen not to have kids if she fears regretting the decision someday is uncool. Duh. It’s not like we haven’t considered that. Would you ask a woman who does have kids if she fears regretting that decision?

Not having children is challenging in that your life is not mapped out for you according to the needs of your children. You have to take full responsibility for your own life trajectory, which can be oddly daunting. And you have nothing to distract you from complicated adult relationships. I know a lot of marriages crack under the pressure of parenting, but a lot of other relationships probably last because of the needs and distractions of children.

But I really like the quote from Carolyn Hax, part of a response to someone wondering how to decide about having children, because she acknowledges that some of us are better off contributing something other than our DNA to the world.

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Stop Moping And Join The Party

By Sophia Dembling

Life is a cabaret.—Fred Ebb

Hey, sad sack!

Yeah, you.

You know something? You’re kinda getting on my nerves.

This whole Eeyore thing? No fun at all.

Do you even know how to have fun? Do you know what brings you joy? Or are you going to trudge through life like it’s a chore?

Stop it.

Life is a cabaret, my friend. A goddam cabaret. So come on. Hurry up. Join the fun.

Oh, I’m sympathetic to depression, tragedy, and hard times. I’ve wrestled with all those things.  But the key word is “wrestled.” I fight back. I fight back hard. And fighting back includes finding joy. Finding it. Not waiting for it.

I’m on a solo road trip this week. Yesterday I was in Nebraska. That’s right. Nebraska. And it was a friggin’ cabaret.

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