How Image Could Be the True Cause of Unhappiness

“There is no reality, only perception.”- Dr. Phil

Last week, I wrote about “Fatherless Sons” which aired on OWN as apart of Oprah’s LifeClass. I was struck by the comment the absentee father made about how he couldn’t live up to the image he had of what a father should be in his children’s lives, so he walked away. I couldn’t get that line out of my mind because it made me so incredibly sad.

I started to think about how often we create an image in our mind of how something should be and allow that image to make us feel inadequate. I know that I have been guilty of this. The image of how things should be can prevent you from seeing the reality of how things are. It can ruin relationships, careers and even your self-esteem. But, we receive images on a daily basis that tells us that we are supposed to be something else other than what we are.

I can remember talking to a friend about marriage and she told me that she was killing herself to clean the house, cook dinner and do everything. I asked her why and she told me she had an image in her mind of what she would be like when she was married. I asked if she did all the stuff before she got married and she said no. As we continued to discuss it, I realized that she had stepped outside of herself and her relationship to serve the image rather than to honor who she and her husband was. In the process, she was asking too much of herself which was making her unhappy. I suggested that she make her marriage fit her and her husband rather than her image of being married.

I think we chase things in our lives because we have an image of how it will be once we get there. It can be buying a house, having a child, graduating college or getting married. These milestones, often, come with a fairy-tale image attached that your life is empty and you will be happier once you have them in your life. For some, that will be true and they will find happiness within the milestones. But, others, may find that they never reach the image in their mind and find themselves disappointed and let down.

In the places in your life where you feel strong dissatisfaction, take a moment to think about the image you are holding in your mind. What are you telling yourself about your life that makes you feel disappointment? What is it you are supposed to have or think you should have done to reach the image? Think about if the image is realistic for you? You may be chasing an image that doesn’t even fit you. Letting go of the image can allow the reality of life to become enough. You might even find that you are perfectly happy with where you are and it is only your expectations that are causing your unhappiness.

Think about your view or perception of your life. Are you chasing a fantasy instead of accepting the reality of your situation? If you stopped to think about what you have, could you be grateful? There is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself, but if you are always chasing something better, you never give yourself the opportunity to enjoy where you are right now.

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” ― Eckhart Tolle

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