disillusionment — Often, when I talk with clients, they give me a list of all the things others in their life are doing wrong. (By wrong, remember, they mean, “Not how I want them to do it!”)


So, last week I tossed out the idea of delusion being one of the three things we cling to (the other 2 being attraction and aversion.) Which of course begs the question:

why would we cling to delusion?

Well, think of it this way.


If only he’d see it my way!

Often, when I talk with clients, they give me a list of all the things others in their life are doing wrong. (By wrong, remember, they mean, “Not how I want them to do it!”)

They present a full and rich story of all of the other person’s sins, both of omission and commission. Then they sit smugly back, and ask me to help them fix the other person!

Now, I wouldn’t even if I could, because everyone has the right to be however they are, but that’s not the point.

What people tell me about the others in their life is a figment of their imagination. A story. A tale.

An illusion.

So, my job, if you will, is to dis-illusion them.

One client recently decided to change something in her relationship, and then she told me, in glowing detail, how her husband was going to sabotage things, and how he was going to mess up her plan. Then (I love miracles) during bodywork, she said, “You know, I just realized that I could make that change, and not make a big deal out of it, and I’m sure my husband would agree completely with the change.”

Now, get this straight.

I don’t think that her illusion was merely her first story — the part where she told herself, in glowing detail, about how her husband was going to sand-bag her idea — and that the second story she told herself —with him cooperating fully —was “true.” Only time will tell what happens, should she actually choose to do something different.

No, the first story was a story, and so was the second. It was just a more benign story.

All illusion, all made up.

To dis-illusion her, I might say, “Why don’t you just shift the thing, drop the stories, and see what actually happens?”

I don’t know about you, but I still spend way too much time up in my head, telling myself stories, and I even know I’m doing it. In fact, I’ve spent years learning to watch my drama, calmly. As I said last week, mostly I catch myself and stop. Occasionally, I need a nudge, and Darbella’s more than glad to give me one.

And here’s the kicker: it’s easier for me to see the story-ness about the stories I tell about others. It’s much harder to recognize that not only are the stories we tell ourselves about others total fabrications of our imagination, but so are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.


What do you mean, I’m missing something???”

We lie to ourselves, all the time, and often choose not to notice, to challenge ourselves. To stop ourselves.

While it’s lame and facile to say it, when you think about it, most of us have little, niggling issues that we blow up into earthshaking dramas.

And they are especially minuscule compared to the people, say, of Haiti, where the earth really shook.

But we whine and moan and complain about all of our little dramas, and typically gather with others and whine some more.

And nothing, really, is going on.

And even in the midst of a real situation (like Haiti, or a serious illness, or death…) there is only this: I will do what I can do. Sitting down and giving up accomplishes nothing, so I will act, and see what happens next.

Now, I know that some of you want to say, “Yes, but all this crap in the world (and especially in my little world!) is just not fair!”

Well, phooey.

Life isn’t fair. Life just is.

So, what do we do?

Well, we start to notice our own bullshit. Our stories, evasions, half-truths, and unwillingness to accept total responsibility for ourselves, and only for ourselves.

Once I accept total responsibility, I can do whatever I choose to do. If I will not change my story (about others, about myself) I am doomed to sit in the mud-pile, slinging clods of dirt at imaginary ghosts.

Here’s a little story:


The Plane! The Plane!

I used to hang out with a guy who was a pilot. I’d go flying with him, and he’d even let me steer, once we were up. One time, he decided we should do a series of “touch and go” thingies. This means you fly to an airport, ask for permission, and then sort of land, but you just touch down, and then accelerate again and take right back off. It’s actually landing practice.

Here comes the illusion part.

We headed up to an airport near Port Elgin in Ontario. We were chatting away, and he’d glanced that the big book that has all the maps of runways. He’d found the airport location, we spotted it, and headed in for the touch and go.

So, we’re heading for the runway, and suddenly, he says, “Oh shit.”

Now, these are 2 words you’d rather not hear in an airplane.

I can’t give you the actual measurements, but let’s do it this way. Standard small airports have 40 foot wide runways. This airport’s runway was 25 feet wide. My pilot buddy was landing “eyes only,” had not looked up the width of the runway in the book, and was not looking at the altimeter. So, when he said what he said, he’d just realized that he was a whole lot closer to touching down than he thought he was, given that 25 foot runway and all, and we were heading in at a much-too-brisk pace.

I remember thinking (I kid you not…) “Oh well, lovely day for a crash landing.”

So, his illusion was where the plane was in relation to the ground, in space and time.

Now, if the pilot had demanded that his story was true (that we were really higher than we were) we’d have eaten the runway. We’d have also eaten it if he froze, and said, “It’s just not fair!”

Instead, he dis-illusioned himself.

He jerked back on the stick, goosed the throttle, and said, “Hang on!” (I always laugh when I hear that. It reminds me of “duck and cover” as a protection against an atom bomb…) so I just had a breath and watched the runway rush up.

We hit with quite the bang. We even had to fly past an airport tower to get the guys to make sure the wheels were still attached. They were…

We were flying a STOL plane (that’s Short Take Off and Landing, and that’s it in the photo above) so goosing the throttle actually worked, and the sucker shot right back off the runway.

In short, we didn’t die, nor crash. (Wink.)

We might have, had he not noticed the illusion (a real optical illusion, yet no different from the bullshit stories we tell ourselves.)

He snapped out of it, pulled up, goosed it, and we lived to talk about it.

So, there you go!

Snap out of it, pull up, goose yourself, and get over it.
Now — before you crash and burn.
Yet again!

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Go to the top of this article, click on the title, and leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

6 thoughts on “Disillusionment”

  1. I love your way of depicting disillusionment! It reminds me of what Anthony DeMello and Echart Tolle have written, except with even more straightforward focus. Thank you for that.

    What you might consider writing, too, is what happens after therapy: you see the world for what it is, yet you also see that most people around you do not see what is so clear. They continue living as they always did, the “cured one” no longer has much desire to be part of the everyday mental machinations of the so-called everyday life. When you stop bullshitting yourself doesn’t mean others will do so too (a platitude). Utter loneliness comes from realising that after an enlightenment of any sort one is alone. Very alone. Therapists do not prepare their patients for this. Please write something on that topic too,

    • Your comment reminded me of sending people (and myself… and Darbella) off to The Haven for personal development training. They come home and experience what you are describing, and I’d remind them that they, not their loved ones, signed on for the new learning.
      I suggest to my clients that this kind of work often requires a change of friends / spouses, etc., as the “contract has changed.”
      I’ll add your idea to my list of articles to write — thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I had a simlilar “pilot illusion”. My first landing at a major airport, where the runways were 200′ wide, gave me the opposite illusion to the one above. I thought I was almost on the runway, when in fact I was 15′ or so above it… and flying way too close to stalling the aircraft (think dropping onto the runway) onto the runway when the “dis-illusionment” happened. Fortunately, like the hero of your story above, I had just enough time to react and “go round”; one second of inaction would have see a crash…
    I’m guessing that once one is dis-illusioned and provided the consequence is of inaction is adequately motivating, we’ll all act.

    • Yeah, nothing like a wake up — and preferably of the survivable kind. Would that more people didn’t need to hit bottom first (especially dangerous in an airplane 😉 )

  3. Still trying to conquer ‘how to comment’, so I wrote something and hit the wrong something. To condense, yes, I do the ‘tell my stories’ probably when I am bored — like driving to work or to the grocery store, etc. Or dusting, vacumming..the dull things that we do without thinking when we should be thinking how we are doing the dull things. I received you new book “Half asleep in the Buddha Hall” and of course I think you were looking over my shoulder and watching…however when I turned around you were not there… Good book, as always I am enjoying and yes, applying.


    • A client asked me the other day what I do when driving, and I said I listen to audio books, to keep from distracting myself. The rest of the time, i.e. dishes, cleaning, I just keep bringing myself back.
      I think that’s likely good enough!
      Glad you like the book!


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