"Dear me. This is me. I just want you to know something. You're ugly. Also, you don't work hard. You're irresponsible."
Somewhere in the world there is a person with that recording playing. Playing constantly in their head.
That person, he or she doesn't even know that it's there. Instead he walks around living his life as he imagines it's meant to be.
Sadly, that recording effects everything he does. It effects how he dresses, how he walks, it effects how hard he works, it effects how much time he spends on the things that matter to him.
He's living out a script. A story that's been built over time. Maybe his parents called him lazy one day. Maybe bullies told him every day that he was ugly. Or maybe girls turned him down.
It's so sad, because this person, he's so special, he's so amazing, and he has so much potential.
But there's a tape player, that was recording throughout much of his life, and it recorded all those people (some well-meaning, some not so much) as he grew up.
He wonders why he doesn't work hard, or why he gives up tasks he starts. He wonders why he eats so much. He wonders to himself, "Why do I keep making the same mistakes? What's wrong with me?"
And then he beats himself up. And now his tape recorder makes all the more sense. He's just a failure.
There are so many people like this. Especially in America. Land of the bullies. Land of the people who are "just kidding." Land of the inappropriate ads designed to make people feel insecure about themselves. Land of social Darwinism.
Maybe it's you. Maybe it's someone you know. Maybe both. Maybe more.
Sometimes we wonder how someone can be self-destructive. Why, why, act that way when it's so self-destructive?
It's because of the tape.
A tape that recorded lies and is now on loop in their heart.
There's an eternal question that's debated in the world of psychology. The question is whether a person can really change. Whether a person has the ability to turn themselves into someone else.
A person has their essence, the person they are, something that will never change. Their soul's blueprint, a guide to their inner existence.
The problem is that many people also have that tape that's making so much noise, telling them that they're something they're not. So they're living out a lie.
It sounds hopeless, no?
But that's before we know about the tape player. Because the truth is, even though it stopped recording a while ago, it still has that record button. It still works. Sure, it may not work as well as it did when that person was younger. It might take a bit more work to make it record. But it's possible.
There are two ways to reprogram the tape.
One is to lie. Lie. So we're irresponsible? We aren't living out the way we want to live? So what. Tell yourself you are that person. Tell yourself you aren't ugly. You aren't fat. You aren't irresponsible.
Tell yourself that you're beautiful. That you're healthy. That you're responsible.
Because the truth is: that isn't a lie. The lie is the life that we're living. The false script of existence that we've come to accept. We need to get to a deeper reality, the reality we were meant to live, that G-d has coded deep in our soul.
When we realize these truths, our lives can change in a beautiful way. We can become the gorgeous beings we were meant to be.
But the truth is, sometimes the tape player is stubborn. Sometimes just trying to record over it isn't enough.
And so we need to go deeper. Which ironically is more shallow.
What does that mean?
Sometimes we need to not only lie to ourselves, we need to fake it. "Fake it till you make it" is the common refrain. "Just do it" is another. In other words, it doesn't feel right to eat healthy? Who cares. Eat a banana and a salad and shut up.
In this world of hipsters and liberalism, it can sound remarkably hollow to ask someone to simply change their actions. Something in us wonders if something deeper should be happening.
But the truth is when we do something we don't feel like doing because we know it's the right thing, it is the deepest thing we can ever do. Because we're living out a life that we know we're meant to have even though our physical selves are telling us not to. In other words, we're living a transcendent life.
The more we live out the life we're meant to, the less power the old crappy recordings have over us. Our actions start to trump them. They speak louder than any words ever will, and eventually, the tape will turn from an audio recording into a video recording. It will be documented proof that you aren't what the bullies said. Or what your parents said. Or what the ads say.
The truth is, we can change ourselves with both methods. We can get back to our essence, become who we're meant to be when we embrace the fact that their is some BS, some old crap recorded on an out-dated tape in our hearts that doesn't even have our own voice. If we lie, and we fake it till we make it, enough, we'll soon realize the truth: that those weren't lies. That we weren't being fake. We were being ourselves for the first time in our life.
Elad Nehorai is a writer living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Five years ago, he became a religious Jew in the Chabad Hasidic community and has since written about his experience extensively, most recently in his blog Pop Chassid. You can find him on Twitter as @PopChassid and Facebook.