People view the world based on how they see themselves and what they want in their lives. It is not uncommon to work with clients who have a distorted sense of reality. They often have illusionists in their life.
Illusionists are people who create the illusion of something that isn’t there. Many clients have difficulty coping because they are dealing with people who aren’t being direct, honest, or straight with them. Here are some examples:
• A man who tells his girlfriend that he is leaving his wife…and he never does.
• An adult son or daughter who says they will stop using drugs and alcohol…and they don’t.
• A boss who continues to promise a raise or a promotion…and never gives one.
• A child who says they will clean up their room…and they don’t.
• A college student who says they are working hard at school…and yet flunks out of most of their courses.
Some of these illusions are minor, but some keep people locked into a certain dream. It prevents them from getting on with their life. An illusionist says just enough to keep the person hanging on. They talk about the future, about wanting to share the same dreams, but they don’t do what is expected of them in the normal routine of life.
When someone is dealing with a certain event, such as divorce or separation, they will often come into my office and report that they are emotionally distraught because their partner has left them. Their spouse has taken all of their possessions, is no longer paying the bills, and yet because their spouse, the illusionist, has not said goodbye officially, this keeps the client in the state of unreality. In other words, they refuse to believe the reality that their partner has left. They choose to believe in the illusion that it’s not over instead of the reality. These defense mechanisms of denial and avoidance protect them, but it can also keep them from moving forward and being proactive. By the time the client comes to see me, they have already spent months or years believing that their partner is coming back.
I am not a proponent of Freud, but he believed that 100% of our beliefs about others are projections. Psychologically, this means that we project our feelings and what we want to believe onto others. This helps to support the illusion.
Have you known a person who saw things a certain way? It didn’t matter what you said or did, they perceive things through their eyes and didn’t see the reality of what was going on? You found yourself wondering why they continued to put up with a certain situation and not see the reality of what is.
Maybe this has happened to you. You wanted to believe something so badly that you refused to look at the total picture in the hope that the person would change and create the dream that he or she alluded to.
When clients have repeated problems with people and situations, I ask them to take themselves out of the situation and look at the other person’s behavior. Simply stated, I tell them to look at the reality of the situation—not the illusion. They are to do this for at least one month and then operate from the reality of things as opposed to the what the illusionist has said or done.
When your perceptions are reality-based, you aren’t a pawn in the game of life.