On Fairy Tales

Often we can see someone else — a friend, perhaps — living out their untrue story, and we want to help. The other person says something like…

“I’m an outsider — that’s just my nature!” — a story of feeling separate
“Whatever room I’m in, I’m the smartest one there!” — also a story of feeling separate
“I never learned to stand up for myself!” — a story of emotional weakness
“I’m an extrovert, and I like to joke around. So what?” — also a story of emotional weakness.
“I don’t really have a choice!” — a story of victimhood.
“Nobody is that generous to me!” — also a story of victimhood.
“I don’t have enough self-discipline!” — a story of moral failing
“Most people I know don’t have a work ethic” — also a story of moral failing
“I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve ever received” — a story of scarcity
“There are winners and there are losers” — also a story of scarcity

If we are close to the person and have often experienced some aspect of their truer, nobler nature we might want to shout:


It can be like shouting “Wake up!” to someone totally asleep. The person may seem deaf to us, maybe even in a kind of coma as they live out their airtight untruth. It’s their story, told to themselves again and again, rewiring the neural pathways of the brain with the same old “facts,” that aren’t facts so much as narrow, controlling rules of identity, embedded beliefs, fairy tales.

It’s often so much easier to see these things in others rather than in ourselves. It’s not nearly so easy to hack into our own belief system, especially the aspects that formed as little children, maybe before we were even conscious of ourselves.

As a consequence, we don’t hear the shouts from outside either. Our untrue stories keep us fast asleep, too.

You have to imagine that you and I are neighbors devoted to helping each other. But I shout and you sleep. And you shout while I sleep. Neither of us is waking up.

What happens? One day, I visit you in your dream and I say, “You know that thing I’ve been saying about myself — I’m thinking it’s not really true.” In your dream you hear me say these words and you say to me in return, “Yes, you know that thing I’ve been saying to myself — I’m thinking it’s not really true either.”

“I get it now,” I say to you in the dream. “Yes,” you say, “I get it, too.” We agree not to fight about it anymore and to stop telling each other and ourselves those same old untrue stories. We agree to help each other with that.

We wake up at the same time, you in your house, me in mine, each experiencing a strange sensation from such a lucid dream. Later, we greet each other across the back fence and somehow it feels like we have known each other forever.


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  • Love you my friend. xo

  • Thank you, Samantha. I know you get this one in your bones. Hugs back!

  • Margaret Siemers wrote:

    Sounds as if you have just woken up Dan.

    All are worthy, all share greatness and all need to believe in themselves. Now we simply need to get “All” to believe that. 🙂

    I aim happy you had such a wonderful trip and that it has renewed your spirit.

    I enjoyed this writing.

  • Margaret! Thank you so much for stopping by! I don’t really resonate with the notion of having “just woken up.” I think we are all in a constant process of awakening, and so perhaps I should have used some other metaphor. But it is a beautiful notion, isn’t it, that we can help one another by appearing in one another’ dreams? And isn’t it this “dreamtime” that we use to find a way to connect and realize what is true?

    Ah well, I know that you love this work. Love it in your heart. I am moved that you would choose to share with me here in this humble hut tossed about in the wind and high in remote mountains — and whether or not it is possible to get all to believe. What seems to be most important is that you and I and a whole lot of wonderful human beings believe.

    I did have such a lovely time on the expedition, and can only say “Namaste” to you and bow to the spirit that makes meaningful our lives together.

    Many Blessings!

  • How simple things really are, aren’t they? Is being unconscious really living fully? Panache Desai speaks of the “whisper” – these small blessings offered by people and events in our lives that we often don’t hear. I feel your post as an invitation to hear that whisper that’s also quietly taking care of us on a daily basis. My experience of tuning-in deeper within has been made easier when I started to surrender and let go, to really allow myself to be. So I now focus on being every day. Living consciously by appreciating life, people and events. Wave after wave of bliss. Thank you Dan for the opportunity to engage with you through your inspirational posts. Namaste

  • Johann, I am so much with you on the “whispers” and the “tuning-in” deeper and surrender. It seems to me your work is perfectly defined in this comment, your work to really allow yourself to be. In doing so you help all of us with that same permission, the lack of which is like the spiritual disease of our time. Every experience of bliss in that surrender can be a moment of healing. Reading your lovely comment and hearing your voice in my ear (a whisper, too!), well, what can I say except thank you, my friend.

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