There is a HUGE GAP between our expectations & reality. We are all experts at avoiding reality because it is often harsh. A lot of therapy is finding the courage to face reality & make the pain bearable. I’ve found facing reality to be life affirming.
One instance might be; when someone is dying of cancer who has children. I immediately encourage them to write in blank books for their children or to write them letters if time is too short. Facing your own death & writing for their future can be healing for everyone.
If someone has a dream that doesn’t work because they are not talented enough or lucky enough; the dream can become a riptide in the ocean that pulls them under. This is balanced by knowing it’s also important to go after your dreams. Both of these opposite polarities are true. As the serenity prayer acknowledges from Alcoholics Anonymous, wisdom is sorting out the difference.
Recognizing my mother wasn’t just “odd” but wanting to understand the reality of her mental illness lead me to a profession that I am passionate about.
Before we were able to move into our home, our empty house was robbed. A thief stole 3 of 4 glass windows. (He left fingerprints behind & was caught.) I am grateful to the thief, because he opened up an alternative reality for us. We seized the new opportunity to put in long lovely windows that allow light & this changes the entire feel of the living room.
Expectations can make you leap into the future full of ideas of what life should be or it wasn’t supposed to be. Sooo much stress gets tied up with the frustrations of dreams not working out that you neglect the present. Often there are new possibilities or ways to look at things that you ignore. Surprisingly, reality can often offer nourishment.
So “Uncle David drinks too much” could become Uncle David is an alcoholic. That means he misses out on a lot of what’s going on and is often selfish. If I understand this as a part of his disease then this reality means that I won’t take it personally. This is helpful because then I’m less defensive when he hurts my feelings.
Disappointments are often about hanging on to a false reality. Digging your heels in & saying this is what’s supposed to happen doesn’t work unless you can make the road to not getting there ok too.
I don’t know anything about Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame. I read that he didn’t make it big until his 40’s because he missed the era of classic good looks. What I do believe is that he didn’t get twisted up inside with resentment & disappointment. He figured out some way to make the unemployment as an actor ok. He faced the reality & dealt with it by making it work.
The 2008 Japanese movie Departures really is a gem that explores giving up on a dream & backing into a surprising new life. Consider how to be more open to some hard reality in a fresh way in your own life, because it will be worthwhile.