Illusions of Life
If we change the word "avatar" to illusions, we can explore how the gap between these illusions and reality can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use, or a variety of other mental health conditions. These illusions are founded in what we think we control, who we think we should be, who we think others should be, what we think we deserve, when we think things should happen, etc. We have a tendency in the human condition to be creative, but we cannot use our creative mind to overlook reality.
Let's explore. Many times my clients will say "my parents should have [fill in the blank]." This is usually based on the image we see of parents on television, such as Family Matters, Full House, Modern Family. The illusion is the belief that if someone becomes a parent they will follow a set of rules that lead to healthy, functional parenting and upbringing of children. It would be nice if parents took some classes and were emotionally and mentally ready to become parents, as well as signing a contract to uphold these standards. However, that is not the case. When we accept that our parents have faults, thus closing the gap of the illusion to what is reality, we can move to a place of acceptance. That acceptance allows one to decide how they want to navigate that relationship based on this understanding. This works for most relationships.
The pressure that creates anxiety can come from the sense of needing to accomplish [fill in the blank] and thinking it needs to happen at this point in your life, or if you do these particular things it will happen in this manner, or if you accomplish it people will think this about you. The illusion is that we can control when something will happen or the outcome of our actions. The reality is we can only control what we do in that moment; it does us no use to look beyond that moment because that creates worry or doubt. Self-compassion is key here as we can only do our best with what we have at that time. Think about how little you really control in your daily life. You can control what time you leave the house, but you have no true control over whether or not you make it somewhere on time. You can work hard to save money, but you cannot control if your roof gets a leak and now those savings are gone. You can get the best grades and prepare for an interview, but you cannot control if you get the job. So, if we take that one potential source of anxiety, accomplishment, and focus on what you can do in the moment, what you can control, you close the gap between an illusion and reality.
Closing the gap means letting go of the illusion.
Daily practice of letting go of illusions can mean looking at your language. We have to stretch our mind the same we stretch our bodies to prepare to see things different. Here are some "stretches":
The sun does not rise or set, the earth rotates. For a stretch try, "do you want to watch the sun as we rotate this evening?" Ha!
Water is clear, it is not blue or green. "Wow, the reflection off the water creating this beautiful blue is amazing."
Time is not present, past or future... When someone asks, "What time is it?" Tell them "Now."
The weather reporters can still have a job when they cannot predict the weather accurately because they are reporting an unpredictable force of nature... So always be prepared for rain or snow on a sunny day.
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Dr. Sheriece is a licensed psychologist, mental performance coach, executive coach, certified family mediator, presenter, and advocate. Read more about Dr. Sheriece here.