Betsy Chasse may like to curse, but that doesn’t mar the clarity of her insights in Tipping Sacred Cows: The Uplifting Story of Spilt Milk and Finding Your Own Spiritual Path in a Hectic World (Atria/Simon & Schuster). It’s her first book, and it’s a doozy: a touching and hilarious account of how Chasse rewired her own life—and a challenge to readers to question their belief systems, know that they don’t need to have all the answers, and realize that one size doesn’t fit all. Here is an excerpt.
How to Play “My Life Sucks”
Step 1: My life sucks: Say it loud, and say it proud!
No really, it sucks. Don’t hold back; really lay it all out on the line here. What really sucks about your life? Your job, your boyfriend, your car, your house, your nails, your hair, your body… really, what sucks? Spend as long as you can listing everything that sucks about your life. But truly mean it and don’t judge. If it popped into your head, you absolutely hate it, so say it, or write it down.
Examples: My shoes suck because I can never find my size. My clothes suck because I’m short. My car sucks. My boyfriend sucks. My furniture sucks. My garden sucks. My hair sucks.
Step 2: Why does it suck?
Does it suck because of your parents, your husband? Who or what made it suck? Now is not the time to go all Deepak on yourself and pretend you think you have some wisdom, because if you did, your life wouldn’t suck. So be honest about why you think your life sucks.
Examples: My job sucks because the people in my office are Neanderthals and stupid and mean. My school sucks because no one likes my kind of music. My parents suck because they were broke and couldn’t buy me anything.
Note: Don’t judge! I know you…you’re judging. Stop it! Scream it, yell it, sing it, sign it—whatever, but say it.
Step 3: Blame it on everyone and everything else.
Here’s your chance. With no one listening, really let them have it. In this moment I give you permission to be the biggest victim you can be. Go back through as much of your life as you can remember and let those fuckers have it.
Examples: I’m short because of my damn parents. My body sucks because I’m short and I had kids and they ruined my body.
Step 4: Acknowledge you’re a failure. Yep, you failed.
Admit it—you have utterly failed at life. If you hadn’t failed, your life wouldn’t suck, right? So say it loud, and say it proud. I am a complete failure!
What have you failed at? Go back through your life and list every failure, no matter how small it might be. Don’t let yourself off the hook, and don’t hide behind some excuse. You failed—list it.
Examples: I failed because I didn’t go to college, and that made it hard for me to get jobs, and I didn’t go because my parents didn’t save my money, and it’s all their fault. I failed my kids because I got divorced and now they will be losers. I failed at marriage not once but twice, so now I know that I will never find love.
Note: Now is not the time to give yourself a pep talk. These thoughts are hidden deep within you. You know it, and I know it, and they aren’t going anywhere unless you let them out, so do it!
Don’t you feel better? Wasn’t that fun! You did it. You blamed everyone, and you admitted you were a failure. All those little thought monsters that have been partying it up in your head for years are finally out on the table or the bed or in my case, the windshield of my car.
Okay, now what? You are probably feeling a little cranky and mad at the world. After all, you did just blame everyone else for all your life’s misery.
Step 5: The release: Is anything I just said true?
Many of us will say no, it’s not true. But if you don’t believe it’s true, why did you say it? There is a part of you that believes it is.
Why do you believe it’s true? And do you still want to?
See, now you know what’s really lurking in the deep recesses of your mind. And now, if you truly let it all hang out, you can pick up that sacred cow and examine it fully, from all angles, look at it all painted and sparkly. You can admire all the things you did to try to pretty it up, to make it spiritual, make it accepted, make it okay. And if you couldn’t make it okay, you just shoved it in the back where no one could see it and cobwebs formed and bugs moved in and it created a whole little world inside of you.
Well, now it’s out, front and center, and you can finally deal with it. Keep it if you want or let it go if you don’t. That’s the hard part: letting go of something that has become a part of you, ingrained in your skin.
Step 6: Awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness.
This is the final step, one that you will repeat many times in your life. The first time I played this game, as I came to this step, I cried. Actually, I sobbed uncontrollably because I had never let myself feel any of this before and the relief, the release, was so profound that for days, even weeks after, I felt great. But the truth is, sometimes those fears, those beliefs try to sneak back onto my shelf. So I am aware, and I find the time to play “My Life Sucks” again, and I remind myself that I am human. My feet are planted on this earth, in this reality for a reason—to work this shit out. It’s all going be okay: Just do the work.
This excerpt is from Tipping Sacred Cows, by Betsy Chasse, and reprinted with permission of Beyond Words/Atria Books, Hillsboro, Oregon.