OUT OF MY MIND!

CHANGES & ILLUSIONS

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

April 8, 1998


        I'm not feeling too well these days, not from physical disease, but from the kind of pain which often accompanies major changes in one's life. Changes are not necessarily or inherently bad to bring about pain; even good change is painful. And sometimes, when we believe change to be bad at the time, it really may be a good thing when looking back at it with the perspective of time.

        Times like these make me reflect on the bigger picture of life in general. I often get into existential moods during these times, wondering what life really is all about. If the foundation of your home, which you had always assumed would be there since it seemed like it was made of concrete, is suddenly pulled out from under you... Then you begin to wonder what else in your life which seems so solid, isn't. How "real" are the things we take for granted as having substance, stability?

        Illusion, as difficult a thing as it may be to swallow, is an integral part of our mental health. Not delusion, mind you, but illusion. The illusion that our lives are indeed "real" and reliable... That nothing too bad will happen to us today, outside of daily life hassles and things we've learned to live with anyway. Most people live their lives with a fair degree of illusion in it -- without ever stopping to consider the illusion or examine it too closely -- because otherwise our lives would be limiting, fearful, and unoriginal. These illusions and basic assumptions about our lives ensure we can continue living, functioning, operating in our work, our relationships, our responsibilities. Without them, it would be difficult indeed to wake up in the morning.

        Yet sometimes, an illusion we've lived with for a time becomes shattered by some unexpected, outside intrusion. It can call into question all the other illusions we live with, since the dissolution of the one illusion usually is accompanied by a fair amount of pain. This can be a healthy examination, in that it allows a person to take stock of their lives and ensure that they are on the track they want to be. If not, these times of change can signal a need to move to a different track or alter the way we relate with others, or some other aspect of our personality.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jan 2007
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It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt