Living Without Our Illusions
January 22, 2012 § 4 Comments
Many of us live most of our lives feeling feel fairly certain of who we are as people. We feel comfortable with the image we have of ourselves, leading us to feel comfortable with most of our choices. Unfortunately, the aspects of ourselves that we tend to feel the most certain of are all of our perceived “holes” or imperfections. We believe, with great certainty, that these imperfections strongly limit what we can do with our lives and who we are able to be. We may feel certain that we do not look quite right, that we are not quite smart enough, or that we do not have the right personality to do what we want to accomplish or become. We are convinced of things that simply are not true.
We are certain of our illusions.
The paradox is that one day when we are older and more tired, when we have hit the proverbial brick wall, many of us finally recognize the fallacy of so many things we have believed about ourselves; illusions we have harbored with an almost religious faith. We finally figure out, much too late, that much of what we believed was untrue.
And that moment of realization is truly unpleasant. Too tired to fight back, we must look at our purported illusions of inadequacy and realize they did not exist. One day, we look back at the photographs and realize we got it all wrong. There really was nothing wrong with the way we looked. We weren’t really too fat or too thin; we actually looked pretty good. We realize we were never stupid; we just never even tried. We see clearly that there was nothing wrong with our style; we were just being who we are.
We come to see that we had illusions about others as well. We realize our kid wasn’t inadequate because he failed to pass calculus, and our spouse was never the flawed soul we had imagined. Uncle George, who managed to ruin every holiday party, was never really a bad guy, just a troubled soul who warranted compassion. They were all illusions, created by expectations of what should have been, what should have happened, and what others should have done.
If you haven’t gotten there, I assure you that you will.
Even if you find the basic facts to be true, you are still likely to discover a different kind of illusion. One day you will awaken to see that even the facts never warranted the conclusions you drew from them. Yes, you may have been overweight or too thin, too tall or too short, or you may have had too little hair. Yes, your grades may not have been not quite as good as you wished, or your promotions as frequent as you had liked. You may not have had as much money as you needed. One day, you may be certain that objectively, the facts were true. But you will come to see that the real illusion was that they were the cause of your unhappiness. These facts were not the reason for your lack of joy. These things never led you to a life of anxiety and dissatisfaction. One day you awaken and see others living in the same objective circumstances, yet you notice that they are happy nonetheless. That is when you will know: it was not the facts that stopped you, but the illusion that the facts were the cause of your unhappiness; the illusion that your life had to turn out a certain way because of the facts.
What would happen if you stopped living your illusions?
- You would stop getting in your own way. You would begin to relinquish your self-imposed limits, and instead let your reality begin to reveal itself. You could begin learning the real parameters of who you are and are not; beginning to live as you were meant to live, not as you have deluded yourself into living.
- You would focus away from ideas that get you nowhere and move toward ideas that can change your life. You cannot build anything on a foundation that isn’t true. But when you build your life upon what truly exists, you have the opportunity to build something real, and experience the tremendous wonder that it brings.
- You would live more profoundly, more deeply, apart from all the surface inclinations that are taught by our culture. It tells you to be this or that, but when you live apart from the illusions, you begin to understand that these illusions never needed to be yours. You start to look for what is real in you, not for what they want you to pretend to see.
- You would allow the Universe to do its work. When you admit that you don’t know everything, you place your life in the hands of something bigger, something that knows better. Call it God. Call it a force. Call it whatever you prefer, but trust that it will always reveal the truth.
- You would have a chance to discover the happiness you deserve. Without the illusions, you are better able to follow the course of your destiny. Will it be a perfect journey? There are no guarantees. What I can guarantee is that setting a course based on an illusory GPS gets you nowhere. You receive no direction, no gauge of progress, and no knowledge of your target destination. You are simply traveling haphazardly, without any guidance.
It is time for us to wave the illusions and their influence goodbye. Start today. Begin questioning the “facts” about yourself and others that you have always viewed as absolute truth. Look for different evidence that leads you to different conclusions. Refuse to accept the illusions. Look for others who possess similar traits, similar “holes,” and find those that weren’t limited by their reality. Resolve to stop buying into the illusions, simply because you have always have.
You are so much more than you believe, so much more capable and worthy than you ever imagined. Resolve today to discard the illusions, and discover a new ability to change your life.