Savannah Hanson: Letting go of false idols |

Savannah Hanson: Letting go of false idols

Savannah Hanson

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” — Exodus 20:3.

There are so many ways to feel victimized these days: by increasing prices that purchase ever smaller portions, smoke filling our air, fires threatening our homes, environmental degradation, political scandal, and many people unable to amass any type of savings to lend a sense of security. So many of us will turn to false idols to help us feel safe, content, satisfied and calmer to tame the overactive nervous system.

For some it will be a beer, a drug, retail therapy, a fabulous, expensive vacation, sex or just the perfect meal. Yet if we pay close attention, we may discover our idols often cost us more than they give us.

All too often our plans and dreams are met with frustration and when our idols fail us, it can lead to conflict, disappointment or even despair.

There is a reason why having false gods is the first commandment. While each will have their own understanding of this commandment, what I am coming to recognize is that false idols usurp out own inherent divinity. They put us in a position of the victim and allow someone or something to appear as though they or it is the source of our salvation.

Yet, over time each of these false golden calves will let us down, not deliver on the suggested promise of lasting relief from suffering.

Letting things be

While certain experiences or people can temporarily appear to alleviate our boredom, discontent or suffering, they are decoys preventing us from looking at the actual cause of our pain. The big paycheck, the new home, the ideal job, the wonderful relationship can appear to meet our needs and provide a respite from a sense of unease.

In and of themselves, they are harmless. Yet when we attach to something external, believing we need it to be OK, to survive, to be whole, we are setting ourselves up for a fall. We fail to recognize our true source.

Anyway, the food is too spicy or overcooked, the boyfriend is a lazy bum, the expensive vacation is “spoiled” by rain. When we need things or people to be a certain way and they show up differently, it can lead to conflict or misery.

This was brought clearly to me on a recent trip to southern California, my old stomping ground. I remembered all the things I believed I needed to be content and happy. When they were not met, I would get bossy, irritated, controlling.

I would try to force life to meet my perceived needs, which often lead to frustration.

How delightful to now see so many more experiences as neutral. Before if the waves were bad for boogie boarding, I could have a snit. Now I could smile and enjoy the sunset.

If someone would not agree to my plans, I could feel hurt or sad. Now I merely see it as others having different needs and desires.

This may appear to be a small thing yet it can often result in endless disappointment, discontent, annoyance when we need things to be a certain way. When we believe someone or something is the very source of our well being, it keeps us in the position of the victim, unable to claim the power of our true identity.

Going with the flow

Lately many of my idols have “failed” me by something appearing to go wrong or circumstances being such that the false god was simply not available. Yet, now I feel empowered as it gives me the opportunity to look more deeply within and access resources I did not even know I had.

I find myself no longer entranced by the perfect meal, the long cherished vacation, the hoped for encounter, the wonderful new piece of jewelry.

Try it for yourself when some long held experience does not go as planned. Do we move into upset or look for a miracle? Be willing to flow with whatever is arising.

When we witness how much upset and disappointment cost us energetically and emotionally, we may become ready and willing to choose again. If we pay close enough attention, we can witness that we can always choose peace regardless of circumstances.

Yesterday a driver went to dangerous lengths to ensure I saw how dramatically he was giving me the finger for some perceived driving error. How delicious to laugh for five minutes as I saw his rage had zero impact on me and that I was free.

For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT, at (530) 575-5052 or

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