Thursday, July 30, 2009

You Want Sugar With That?

2007 - Day 190 - Just a spoonful of sugar...
Disillusionment -- it's not what we usually call a good thing. We tend to equate it with losing faith in someone or something, becoming jaded or even cynical. In my line of work it's not uncommon to hear someone say, "I used to go to church but _____ happened, and that was the end of it for me." Most of the time, whatever goes in the blank relates to what someone else has said or done. In any case, they've become disillusioned, they've lost a bit of their idealism about the way people ought to behave.

To the extent our expectations of other people are unrealistic, a little disillusionment goes a long way. It helps us develop a perspective that allows others to be genuinely themselves rather than characters we've created in a private novel entitled Life According to Me. Truthfully, this can be quite liberating for all concerned.

Before it sounds like I'm channeling The Sound of Music and all we need is a spoonful of sugar to make life palatable, let me say this liberation can take many forms. For the person entrapped in a relationship with a narcissist, the loss of illusions can be the first step toward recovery. As in the fairy tale of The Emperor's New Clothes, the blinders come off and a person "sees" their situation as it truly is.

For most of us, though, letting go of illusions might just help us be a little more accepting. What I mean is, if we assume from the outset that other people going to be as human as we are, that in itself is forgiving. Yeah, they're going to screw up, they're going to let me down, and guess what? I'm going to do the same. Sometimes I think the hardest illusions to give up are the ones we have of ourselves.


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