World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 depression will be the second biggest health problem world-wide. Why are we so sad? According to speaker and author John Demartini, the problem lies in our futile pursuit of happiness and our fantasies about how life should be. “We live in a world addicted to fantasies. The fantasy of always being nice and never mean, or having the memories of childhood holidays created over and over again, of having the career we love and never experiencing stress, of having relationships that are never ending honeymoons or having bodies that resemble the airbrushed models we see in magazines,” says Dr. Demartini who was recently seen on “Larry King Live’ and was featured for his wisdom in the inspirational-hit movie “The Secret.” The following are excerpts from The Heart of Love: How to Go Beyond Fantasy to Find True Relationship Fulfillment by Dr. John Demartini (Hay House) released January 2007.
Five things that get in the way and how to cut them off at the pass Chapter three from The Heart of Love: How to Go Beyond Fantasy to Find True Relationship Fulfillment by John Demartini
Your values will tend to express themselves in some or all of seven areas of life: spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, familial, social, and physical. Each is equally valid as an avenue for a deeply fulfilling connection with the universe. In my experience, about 75 percent of men tend to value mental, financial, and vocational, while about 75 percent of women tend to focus on familial, social, and physical. Twenty-five percent of men focus on the areas more common to women, and vice versa.
Sometimes people allow their fears to keep them from living according to their priorities, and this can cause stress and a sense of emptiness. Understand, though, that even in that case, the values are still running the show. For fun, I call this the law of lesser pissers: You’ll always choose to “piss off” the person who supports your ideals less. So fear, or avoiding the “greater pisser,” is actually an expression of a value, too.
There are seven basic fears that can run your life and keep you from living your life to the fullest:
- Fear of breaking away from the system of a perceived spiritual authority. (I don’t want to be considered a bad person or go to hell.)
- Fear of not having enough mental capability. (I’m not smart enough. I don’t have the credentials or degree.)
- Fear of failure. (I’ll fall short.)
- Fear of losing it all financially. (I’ll go broke or bankrupt. I won’t make enough money to survive.)
- Fear of losing loved ones. (My parents might disown me, my lover will leave me, or my kids will hate me. . . .)
- Fear of societal rejection. (I’m afraid of what everyone will think, I won’t fit in, and people won’t want to be with me.)
- Fear of not having physical capability. (I’m not tall enough, strong enough, or good-looking enough. I don’t have the energy for all this.)
If, for example, someone’s been brought up with a form of religious indoctrination, even if that person has left the organized practice of that faith, the residue of those values remains; and former followers may hesitate to put their full personal hierarchy ahead of the old ways. This fear might reflect such notions as spirituality (as it’s been narrowly defined), connection, or acceptance. I constantly meet people who desire wealth but are held back by a spiritual counter-value coupled with an ingrained belief that money’s the root of all evil, or it’s “dirty,” and so on. So they’re experiencing a conflict of values: material wealth versus religious codes about affluence.
Chapter two: Giving Up the Fantasy in Favor of Fulfillment from The Heart of Love: How to Go Beyond Fantasy to Find True Relationship Fulfillment by John Demartini
If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time. — Edith Wharton
This often-quoted phrase is generally thought to be cynical, but if you give it a moment to sink in, you can see its wisdom, too. Wharton could simply be telling us that in our endless pursuit of one-sidedness, we’re denying ourselves fulfillment. If you’re ready to let go of the dream of loved ones who don’t have so-called flaws, then you’re ready for something even greater than the fantasy: fulfillment.
This means you’re willing to stop imagining that you’ll parent idealized kids who are independent . . . yet always loving, kind, and obedient. You’ll quit expecting a lover to be constantly sexy, turned on, and available (never tired, irritable, or uninterested). You’ll no longer cling to the idea of the mythical spouse who’s only loyal, supportive, and nonjudgmental. You’ll give up hoping that your parents will turn into some contemporary version of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson—or Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, or whatever fantasy couple you hold up as a paragon of parental virtue.
In essence, fulfillment comes from appreciating both sides, happiness and sadness—everything that you or society has misidentified as “good” and “bad.” It comes from observing your own illusions, acknowledging that your own perceptions create your experiences, and being willing to look beyond this to recognize what you and everyone else are really seeking . . . which is love. Seeking fulfillment means looking for love. Yet, as the Zen masters assure us, there’s no search to be done. You must simply wake up and see what you already have and who you are.
All of us are expressions of love. We’re also independent and dependent, kind and cruel, obedient and unruly, and so on. No one has only positive traits; and the minute you start wishing for someone who does, or start believing that’s what you or another person should be, you’re living in a fantasy. But when you start loving whatever parts of yourself you’ve previously disowned, then you can embrace them in the world, too.
As you read and complete the exercises in this book, you’ll learn to see that every person is “both/and,” not “either/or.” This can be profoundly challenging, especially when someone comes along and starts pushing your buttons. Those individuals offer incredible gifts, though. Whatever irritates you about them—their behavior, speech, beliefs, or anything else—is the very thing you can learn to identify and then embrace in yourself. Button pushers point the way to those parts of yourself that you’ve disowned.
What kind of relationships might you expect if you relinquish your fantasies as well as their converse nightmares? What could happen if you start acknowledging that your disowned self shows up again and again in the mirror of your relationships? If you’re no longer trying to make other people happy, and you’re not counting on them to do the same for you, then what will your interactions be about? Here are some things to look for:
- You can expect new illusions to crop up. It’s one of the fascinating parts of being human: our insatiable appetite and capacity for fantasy. You just create a different one, a new facet to peer through in the prism of love. You’ll constantly be challenged by new things in order to learn about yourself and how you relate to others.
- You gain a greater understanding of yourself as you integrate more and more of your disowned parts, what Jungian psychologists call the shadow. As you shine light on it, you begin to recognize its value in your life. You don’t just accept it, saying, “Oh, well, I guess I’m not perfect.” No! You start to see how the shadow self is part of the perfection. You see the gifts of these previously unappreciated aspects of yourself. This is what I mean when I say that relationships awaken you to the inherent balance existing within and around you and assist you in acknowledging your own magnificence and wholeness.
- When you stop projecting your fantasies onto others, you’re able to more clearly see and appreciate people for who they are. You notice whenever you’re setting up unrealistic expectations and choose something different: You can go to what you know about the person’s ideals and base your hopes on that. The only reasonable expectation you can have of people is that they will live according to their values.