Welcome back pilgrims,
I hope your journeys are coming along well!
This week's topic is going to be about illusions.
I feel like it is appropriate as you didn’t see it coming, and it’s also a good exercise. Remember, I told you guys that I am doing this in real-time with you. Usually, when I do my yearly reflection, it only takes about two weeks. Those two weeks include a variety of these steps and a lot of self-reflection.
For the purpose of this challenge, I have spread out many of my techniques and practices over 12 weeks. Reasons for doing this include: 1) Jedi-mind tricking you into creating a habit 😉. 2) I understand that everyone is in different spots on their journey so I slowed the pace down so that others don’t get left behind.
I have tried to stick with the original itinerary as closely as possible, but sometimes I have needed to improvise. Usually, I can sneak the amendments in there, this week wasn’t one of those times.
Illusion was originally a subtopic under the perspective umbrella. As I started to write about it, it took on a life of its own. What should have been a few paragraphs became a few pages. Suffice to say it was significant enough for its own week.
What is an Illusion?
A thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.
A false idea or belief.
When I think of illusions, the first things that come to my mind are the childhood cartoons where the character was in a desert and would see a desert oasis only to find it was a mirage. You have the want/need to have something so badly, you see it in places they aren’t.
I would like to acknowledge that the converse is also true. Sometimes we allow fear, uncertainty, or self-doubt to create barriers that are not there.
I don’t mean to call you out, but I do. If you are standing in your own way, I kindly (but firmly) ask you to move.
Wait! Before you get all up in arms and defensive, I want to point out that I don’t think you are doing it consciously. If you are aware of your actions that directly undermine your goals and you don’t have any plans to change them, then that is a deeper-seated issue and something for you to sort out (preferably with a trained professional). I’m talking about that subconscious level denial and/or self-sabotage that may not be obviously linked to your goals.
Examples of destructive Illusions
1) Outdated Coping Mechanisms
Once upon a time, you developed a coping mechanism to deal with adversity. Congratulations, you got through it! When we have success, we may try to replicate the results by repeating the actions. Unfortunately, there is no panacea when it comes to adversity. What fixed one situation may exacerbate another.
You have defense mechanism, because it's what you needed at that time to get you through what you were going through. But once you've made it past that situation. Sometimes your defense mechanisms and your protections and these boundaries that you put to keep everyone and everything away, are actually keeping you limited to your own situation as he's tying your hands, and they're also more of a limitation for yourself. And I, again, am tasking you to see what's real versus what is a perception or an illusion.
2) Subconscious Need Fulfillment
I read last summer The Courage To Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and I enjoyed the read as it gave me new things to consider. One of which was how sometimes we stand in our own way because the thing that ‘is holding us back’ is actually fulfilling a greater desire of our own.
For instance, if you suffer from procrastination. You know putting off what needs to be done, doesn’t help anyone. Procrastination often creates additional pressure as the awareness of procrastination brings its own guilt and anxiety. Why then do you do it? It’s not difficult to manage your time so that you aren’t rushed. Kishimi surmises that maybe your procrastination fulfills some other need of yours.
Maybe you have a fear of failure and procrastination gives you the ‘out’ that this wasn’t your best work because you were rushed. Maybe you like the adrenaline that comes with racing to meet a deadline. Either way, if there wasn’t a benefit to your negative behavior, then you would try in earnest to remove it...especially if you are cognizant of the setbacks. If you continue a behavior that affects you negatively, you might want to ask yourself what benefits do you get?
3) Fears, Doubts, and Inhibitions...oh my!
Remember the ending of The Wizard of Oz? (Spoiler alert warning***, but shame on you if you haven’t watched it by now). After all the perils they went to get there, the Wizard sends them on a fool’s errand to get the witches broomstick. After Dorothy et al complete the task, the Wizard tells them to come back on the ‘proverbial’ tomorrow. Then Toto pulled the curtain back to reveal the Wizard was actually a regular guy who’d gotten stranded in Oz via a hot air balloon.
Dorothy and her friends called him out to fulfill his promises to them. In a heartwarming scene, Tinman’s compassion was what gave him his heart. The Cowardly Lion re-framed the way he saw his actions from ‘cowardly’ to wise acts of self-preservation. Scarecrow realized (after receiving an honorary degree) realized that he was always as intelligent as he’d wanted to be (#message American Educational system). Glinda the Good Witch of the North famously tells Dorothy that she has always had the power to go home herself.
Scarecrow asks, ‘Why didn’t you tell her before?’ (Good looking out, Scarecrow. We all need a friend like Scarecrow). Glinda says that Dorothy wouldn’t have believed her. Dorothy needed to figure it out for herself.
This is a great metaphor for how illusions can sometimes work against us. How does the way you look at yourself impact how you operate? Are you waiting for someone ‘great and powerful’ to grant you the things that you desire? Are the problems in your way really wicked or can they be melted away with a bucket of water (see what I did there)?
As we continue on our journey and focus on our vision, we will see many things. The goal is to distinguish what is real from what is perceived. My initial approach to 'illusion' was the style of art that revealed more and more the longer you looked at it. How appropriate, because the longer I thought about how illusions factor into our goal getting journey, the more its relevance revealed itself.
Next week, we discuss hindsight. Because... you know hindsight is 2020...
Until Next Time,