Refusing to Believe the Stories We Tell Ourselves
by don Migel Ruiz with Janet Mills

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 gave us a name, and 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 fight against our own kind. They filled us with knowledge, and this is how we learned how to create our own story.

Well, 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. That voice 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 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 knowledge is stronger and louder and it hooks your attention almost all of the time. You hear the voice — and not just one voice, but an entire mitote, which is like a thousand voices talking all at once. And what are these voices 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?”

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 you judge yourself, find yourself guilty, and punish yourself, it’s because the voice in your head is telling you lies. Every time you have a conflict with your children or your beloved, it’s because you 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, when we get jealous or angry we say, “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.

Two thousand years ago one of the greatest masters said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Free from what you ask? From the liar who lives in your head and never stops talking! I no longer have that voice in my head, and I can assure you that it’s wonderful. When the voice finally stops talking, you experience inner peace. That voice won’t give up just because you want it to leave you alone, but at least you can challenge it by not believing what it tells you. If you follow two rules, all the lies that come from the voice won’t survive your skepticism and will simply disappear.

Rule #1: Don’t believe yourself. Listen to your story, but don’t believe it because it’s mostly fiction. When you hear the voice in your head, don’t take it personally. You know that it’s usually lying to you, but lies can only survive if you believe them. If you don’t believe your own lies, you can make better choices based on truth.

Rule #2: Don’t believe anybody else because surely other people lie to themselves, and if they lie to themselves, they will lie to you also. When people talk, you have no idea if what they are saying is coming from their heart or from the liar who lives in their head. Listen to other people tell their story, but don’t believe them because it’s just a story that is only true for them.

You can change your life by refusing to believe your own lies. Start with the main lies that limit the expression of your happiness. If you take your faith away from the lies, they lose their power over you. Then you can recover your faith and invest it in different beliefs. If you stop believing in lies, your life will be free of fear, drama and conflict. This is the absolute truth and I cannot put it more simply than that.

Excerpted and edited from Don Miguel Ruiz’s newest book, The Voice of Knowledge (Amber-Allen Publishing, 2004, $14.00), the fifth book by the author of the international bestseller, The Four Agreements. For more information on Ruiz’s books, please visit or call 1-800 624-8855.