The False Beauty of an Illusion
il·lu·sion [ih-loo-zhuhn] noun. 1. An erroneous perception of reality. 2. An erroneous concept or belief. 3. The condition of being deceived by a false perception or belief.
dis·illu·sion·ment [dis-i-loo-zhuhn-ment ]noun. The act of freeing someone from an illusion, or the state of being freed therefrom.
You have a serious problem. I know, because I have the same one: I can’t see reality as it actually is. Our brains are insulated from the world by layer upon layer of filters that blur our understanding of the world. Our assumptions, beliefs, biases, defense mechanisms and attitudes act as fisheye lenses that distort our view. These filters run invisibly in the background of each person’s mind, and function like hidden software, an operating system that is always on, but rarely seen. The result is that the image perceived by our brains is often quite different from the one that actually exists. What is think I see and hear is not real; it is a mirage. It is an illusion. I believe that correcting my warped view of reality constitutes life’s greatest challenge. Correcting it is a process I (The World’s Only DIS-illusionist) call disillusionment.
Suppose you genuinely believe that the reason your significant other will not kiss you is that he or she harbors a deep fear of intimacy, while the truth is that you are in desperate need of more frequent baths. Your faulty analysis of the situation might then lead you to propose elaborate and expensive “solutions” to the problem: therapists, books, long and emotionally-charged conversations. Each time your partner attempted to explain the real source of the issue, you would dismiss it with a wave of your hand, because you “know” the truth. During summer you might go for a quick swim, and the relationship would get briefly better. However, your misguided analysis of the root cause of your problem would tempt you to conclude that the counseling was finally working!?! Encouraged, you might increase the frequency of the counseling sessions and buy your partner more self-help books. But alas, soon the newfound intimacy would disappear as your body odor returned. You would never solve the problem, because your understanding of it was hopelessly inaccurate from the start. In fact, you would be worse off, impoverished from all of the counseling fees and exasperated by all the wasted effort.
To the degree that your understanding of reality is inaccurate, your response to it will always be ineffective. Becoming “disillusioned” (that is, being stripped of your illusions) means being able to accurately perceive and describe the problems you face, and your role in them. This is the first and essential step in improving your life. I am convinced that there are 8 “Grand Illusions,” fundamental ways of misinterpreting one’s place in the world:
1) I am destined for greatness.
2) I am better than other people.
3) I am unloved or unlovable.
4) I am insignificant, invisible and unimportant.
5) I am inadequate for the tasks of life.
6) Everyone else will eventually abandon me.
7) I am socially undesirable.
8) Other people should take care of me.
Each of these illusions has a way of setting the self-deceived person on a course for emptiness or destruction. The positive ones (1 and 2) breed behaviors that often result in stunning and sudden falls from grace. The negative ones (3 through 8) tend to beget behaviors that create self-fulfilling prophecies.
Here are three critical steps to take on your road to reality:
1) Ask other people to analyze the situation. While they, too, may have a distorted view of your situation, it’s likely to be more accurate than yours. After all, they aren’t emotionally involved and they have less of a motive to defend your actions than you do. They have fewer filters in operation because they are completely removed from your circumstances.
2) Ruthlessly evaluate your own motives. Am I being honest with myself or trying to justify my own behavior? Ask yourself: “Am I trying to avoid the truth or am I seeking to eagerly embrace it, whatever it might be?”
3) Face your fears bravely, knowing that many of them are simply psychological constructs created by your Grand Illusion.
To explore all 8 Grand Illusions, order my book “Grand Illusions” or my audio message “Why You Do the Things You Do… and How to Stop Doing Them!” Both are out of print, but may be purchased, along with many other products, on a reusable Flash Drive for HERE for just $20. Enjoy your journey to reality!