The Nine Fantasies That Will Ruin Your Life
and The Eight Realities That Will Save You
Look, I know you think fantasies are fun, sexy, and cool, whether you dream of being
Cinderella or Prince Charming, or that your love will be passionate, available, rich,
gorgeous, and lovable. Even if you think of yourself as too old or too sophisticated to
believe in fairy tales, I'll bet you occasionally indulge in the giddy notion of someday
playing for the L.A. Lakers or winning the gold in wrestling by overpowering that
third-grade bully who still haunts your nightmares. Maybe in this alternate reality,
you're accepting an Oscar or being crowned Miss America or doing something you won't admit
to in public. Everybody indulges in fantasies from time to time, but as a lifestyle
choice, we're talking di-sas-ter! Even if these seemingly harmless little devils don't
ruin your life, they can cause a lot of avoidable misery. The alternative to fantasies is
a happy and fulfilling life, so please listen.
Ruinous fantasy? I can hear you saying. She needs to get a grip. How can a fantasy be anything but pleasurable? How can such a whimsical idea cause anyone harm? Think about it: if you fantasize that you can fly and decide to test the idea from the observation deck of the Empire State Building...well, you get my point.
The purists among you will point out that it's not the belief that's so dangerous, but the action based on the belief, and you'd be right on the money. If I can persuade you to examine your beliefs, then your actions will follow a safer, saner, and more productive path. Okay? Okay.
The Skinny on Fantasies
Repeat after me: Fantasies aren't real. If something isn't real, it's dangerous to believe it. Other people may tell us lies or try to convince us of their points of view. Their reasons may be lofty or lower than a snake's belly, but a fantasy is a lie we tell ourselves, and because it isn't true, it's toxic, no matter how harmless and whimsical it seems. Fantasies are a distraction from the business of running our lives successfully and realistically. I plan to wrestle these pesky critters to the ground so we can all get on with the pleasure of focused thoughts and energy.
Okay, I admit that fantasies may not actually kill you, but they can make you wish you were dead. They can effectively ruin your life by seducing you into painful and unnecessarily destructive situations. (Fantasy, in fact, is an interesting word: it was originally spelled with a ph rather than an f, which suggests that its related to phantasma ghost, an odd, capricious illusion rather than a reality.) Most of us think of fantasies as dreams that make us happy, but the fantasies discussed here will offer pleasure only temporarily and at great cost. They are familiar and comfortable, but they can be dangerous and counterproductive in the long run.
Fantasies are delusions that no amount of medication can cure; the sufferer requires a dollop of common sense. And you, fair reader, are in luck because sensible is my middle name. Whoops, no fantasies here: I have no middle name, but I am imminently practical and sane. These poisonous fantasies are a lot subtler than the delusion that you're Joan of Arc, but they're also a lot more common. Not to worry. I am going to tell you not only what these fatal notions are and how to avoid them but also how to substitute healthy, life-giving realities that will save you from self-induced misery and enhance your life.
All of us grow up believing certain things to be true. Parents, teachers, grandparents, older siblings, books, Sunday school teachers, baby-sitters, and best friends weave fairy tales about handsome heroes and beautiful maidens. These commonly held beliefs can be
Use of this excerpt from The Nine Fantasies That Will Ruin Your Life and the Eight Realities That Will Save You by Dr. Joy Browne may be made only for purposes of promoting the book, with no changes, editing, or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: Copyright© 1998 by Dr. Joy Browne. All rights reserved.
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