The Liar That Lives
in Your Head

How to change your life for the better by refusing to believe 'the voice of knowledge.'

BY: don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills

Adapted from "The Voice of Knowledge" by don Miguel Ruiz, published by Amber-Allen


Before we were born, a whole society of storytellers was already here. The storytellers who were here before us taught us how to be human. First they told us what we are-a boy or a girl-then they told us who we are, and who we should or shouldn't be. They taught us how to be a woman or how to be a man. They told us to be a proper woman, a decent woman, a strong man, a brave man. They gave us a name, and they told us the role we would play in their story. They prepared us to live in the human jungle, to compete with one another, to impose our will, to fight against our own kind. They filled us with knowledge, and of course we believed them. From the storytellers around us, we learned how to create our own story.

By exploring the story that we create, I discovered that the story has a voice. You can call it "thinking" if you want. I call it "the voice of knowledge" because it's telling you everything you know. It's always trying to make sense out of everything. That voice is always there. It never stops. It's not even real, but you hear it. You can say, "Well, it's me. I'm the one who is talking." But if you are the voice that is talking, then who is listening?

The voice of knowledge can also be called the liar who lives in your head. The liar speaks in your language, but your spirit, the truth, has no language. You just know truth; you feel it. The voice of your spirit tries to come out, but the voice of the liar is stronger and louder and it hooks your attention almost all of the time. You hear the voice, and what is it telling you? "Look at you. Who do you think you are? You will never make it. You aren't smart enough. Why should I try? Nobody understands me. How can I be happy when millions of people are dying of starvation?"

That voice is usually lying because it's the voice of what you have learned, and you have learned so many lies, mainly about yourself. The voice of knowledge can come from your own head, or it can come from people around you, but your emotional reaction to that voice is telling you, "I'm being abused." Every time we judge ourselves, find ourselves guilty, and punish ourselves, it's because the voice in our head is telling us lies. Every time we have a conflict with our parents, our children, or our beloved, it's because we believe in lies, and they believe in them, too.

But it's not just that. When we believe in lies, we cannot see the truth, so we make thousands of assumptions and we take them as truth. One of the biggest assumptions we make is that the lies we believe are the truth! For example, we believe that we know what we are. When we get angry we say, "Oh, that's the way I am." When we get jealous: "Oh, that's the way I am." But is this true? I'm not sure about that. I used to make the assumption that I was the one who said all those things that I didn't want to say. It was a big surprise when I discovered that it was not me; it was the way I learned to be. And I practiced and practiced until I mastered that performance.

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