A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about Valentine’s Day and the fantasies associated with it.
What I so love about writing these blogs is that the writing seems to drive me deeper into these issues and some amazing new insights emerge.
Today I want to share two such fabulous insights.
They came after I asked myself the simple question, “Is it just that fantasies are not aligned with reality that creates all of our pain?”
The answer was “No!”
There is more.
Tunnel Vision Thinking
When we fantasise about something our focus narrows, it is a mental and emotional contraction.
Now I know from my Self-Esteem work that contraction is the physiological equivalent of suffering.
When we are happy we are light and expansive and when we are unhappy we are miserable and we contract.
Just think about something that scares you and notice how the mind and the body tightens and contracts. I have seen this thousands and thousands of times in myself and with my clients. Contraction is the energetic signature of pain and suffering.
When we have a fantasy about something, say a new project that we are implementing and it’s very exciting, that excitement is a contraction. When we have an excited contraction it is both pleasurable and painful at the same time.
Now you might think this is not true, that excitement is all positive but just think about it carefully, think of something that excites you right now or something in the past and notice how excitement has a twin, the other side of that coin is anxiety.
If you are excited about something then what follows very shortly afterwards is the fear that the thing you are excited about will not come true.
Back to the new project.
You are excited and what happens is your focus narrows around the issue and you don’t see any of the other factors involved in the entire process, you simply see and feel the part that is exciting.
This narrowing of focus is what I call tunnel vision thinking and is epitomises what happens when we get locked into a fantasy.
Tunnel vision thinking is devoid of wisdom and skill in action. It is overemotional, desperate and often overtly or even quietly hysterical. It moves too fast and is impulsive.
Most importantly it misses the big picture.
The big picture is wisdom.
The opposite of wisdom is ignorance which is derived from the French word ‘ignorant’ meaning lacking in wisdom.
Which means that when we are infatuated we drown in the emotions of the moment.
We are lying to ourselves. We are betraying ourselves.
Betrayal is a major issue for most people. When someone betrays our trust in business or in a personal relationship, we generally freak out.
Yet the fantasy we create in our head is a lie that is deeply betraying of ourselves.
Falling in Love
Falling in love is of course one of the most powerful experiences known to humankind. Until you’ve done it two or three or four times – maybe more ha ha – it’s a really desirable state. But what defines falling in love is the fact that all we see is the contracted and very narrow view of this other person.
We don’t see any of their faults, the negatives which are going to really put us off in 2 to 3 or six months time.
Fantasies exclude all of the negatives.
When we go into fantasy mode whether it’s falling in love or the next rugby game we are going to watch or the next dinner party or the money we are going to make… Whatever it is, we narrow our focus down so that we only see the positives.
To live your life seeing only a piece of life is to create depression because as soon as the big picture i.e. the negatives, emerge into your experience you’re going to hit a wall of pain and suffering.
The Next Big Thing
A really interesting thing about the fantasy of falling in love – and this was my next major discovery – is that one of the reasons that this is so addictive is that we are getting something that my Self-Esteem work has shown me to be so critical in our emotional development.
What we get from the other person, in buckets, is their desiring us.
When you fall in love somebody is wanting to kiss you and hold you and make love to you and possess you.
What they are giving you is the most intense desire for you.
This is immensely affirming.
They are filling this void inside of us with their longing to possess us. If you consider them to be beautiful, intelligent or powerful or all three, then this is akin to flooding a desert with a thunder storm of biblical proportions.
It is intoxicating beyond measure.
Because we don’t know how to love ourselves there is no intense desire to own and feel and connect with our own ‘specialness’ so we have to get it outside and when someone on the outside looks at us in a way that suggests we are the most desirable thing on the planet it is utterly intoxicating and deeply seductive, until of course you have done it enough times to see through the delusion.
Which is why fantasies are an addiction. Which is why most of the marketing out there is designed to hook our intoxication with being thin and rich and fashionable and successful and beautiful.
It really fascinates me that Hollywood is filled with people who are rich, beautiful, successful, and famous. Just about everybody on the planet wants at least one of those four things and yet are the people in Hollywood overwhelmingly happy?
Just watch the interviews of their divorce procedures.
It has been estimated that Hollywood marriages are twice as likely to end in divorce as the average marriage, which means that rich, beautiful, successful and famous, is actually very, very painful as well as pleasurable.
From Contraction to Expansion
If you’ve read this far, then you hopefully want to expand your focus to reduce the power that fantasies have over you.
1. What you need to start doing first up, is notice how your attention narrows and contracts as you get excited about something. If you don’t have this awareness, then there is nothing you can do about it.
2. Then, sit with it, breath into it, open yourself to the contraction. This should begin to calm it down. If you are a very excitable type generally, this is going to take some work. There’s no quick fix for this.
3. When the contraction begins to soften, you can then make a list of all of the potential downsides/risks of the thing, person or situation that is making you so excited and start looking for the Big Picture – all the issues. Just notice how this changes the energy.
4. Ask yourself if you really, really, really want to keep betraying yourself with these lies you created and are believing?
5. You may find that you don’t have the desire to do any of this because you are so intoxicated with the pleasure of the fantasy. If this is the case. Just love yourself in doing so and wait for the next opportunity to try it.