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Fantasy and Reality - Part 1

Part One is a bit theoretical.
Part Two will be more practical.


NEVER THE TWAIN....

Popular culture says we are "crazy"
if we can't tell fantasy from reality.
If that's the definition, then we are all crazy.
(No news there!)

The key to avoiding fantasy and reality problems is
to always know which of the two you are dealing with!



DEFINITION OF FANTASY

Fantasy is ALL mental activity.

Most people know that dreams and daydreams are fantasies, but few realize that
every single thought is a fantasy.

Example:
We can all agree that "2+2=4" is a true statement.
But this true statement doesn't become real
until we actually see two pairs of objects right in front of us.

Even if we'd all agree that some fantasy is TRUE,
that does not mean that it is REAL.
It's a fantasy until it becomes real.



DEFINITION OF REALITY

Reality is what comes to us through our senses.
If we can see, hear, smell, taste or feel something it is real
(except for a few rather insignificant things like optical illusions.)



A BLESSED CURSE?

We humans used to believe we were the only creatures able to fantasize.
Then dolphins and other animals were studied and we found that we are not alone.

The ability to fantasize opens up many avenues for fun and problem-solving,
but it also opens up avenues for neurosis, psychosis and all types of "mental pain."

Poor dolphins.....
Do you suppose they have therapists?



WHEN TO USE FANTASY

Use fantasy ONLY for entertainment and BRIEF problem solving.

USING FANTASY FOR ENTERTAINMENT

Imagine yourself in any situation at all that is enjoyable to you.
[Sometimes it can even be enjoyable to imagine violence!
If you are that angry, you might need such fantasies
just to relieve all the pressure.]

DON'T USE FANTASY TO CREATE FEELINGS THAT HURT YOU!
Creating bad feelings is never healthy entertainment!
Don't imagine yourself in situations which frighten, sadden, or anger you
unless you are trying to solve some problem (see below).

DON'T COMPARE ENTERTAINMENT FANTASIES WITH REALITY
Since fantasy can be perfect and reality can't,
comparing our entertaining fantasies with reality
will always lead to bad feelings!


USING FANTASIES FOR BRIEF PROBLEM-SOLVING

It is wise and necessary to use fantasy to solve problems.

If you are choosing between two apartments, for instance,
you can imagine yourself living in each of them and compare the two feelings.

But this should only take a minute or two!

IT'S NOT PROBLEM-SOLVING WHEN IT TAKES TOO LONG.

Our brains work incredibly quickly, as fast as the fastest computers.
After a few minutes of thinking,
we already know intuitively whether a problem is unsolvable.

After that all we are doing is frustrating ourselves about how unsolvable the problem is!


When a problem can't be solved in a few minutes of thinking,
we need to face that it's unsolvable
unless we get new information.

If the unsolvable problem causes you pain,
call a friend, discuss it with your partner,
look it up on the web, or contact an expert in the field.
Do anything which might bring in new data.

If the unsolvable problem doesn't cause you much pain, let it go!
(Just put it on that large "unsolved pile" that we all share!)

If the unsolvable problem causes emotional pain
and you feel you just can't let it go,
that's what therapists are for.


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Enjoy Your Changes!

Everything here is designed to help you do just that!

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Write To Me, I Want To Hear From You!
Tony Schirtzinger, Therapist (Milwaukee) 

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