Beliefs Vs. Reality
Each of us has our own unique set of beliefs. We believe that
life has a certain meaning and for each of us, it may be very different. Many
have chosen to believe that life has no meaning, that things happen at random
and we have no control over our destiny. Some believe in pre-destiny.
All of man's existence, he/she has pondered the universe in search of answers to
the meaning of life.
The beliefs that we hold about life, play a major role in our happiness and our
thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others.
For those of us who have a mental health disorder and are working at some level
of recovery, it is vital that we examine our belief system.
For example, it has been shown statistically that those who hold strong
spiritual beliefs recovery more easily from grief and loss.
I would imagine that those who believe perhaps that there is meaning in
suffering, that there is a plan for them, that they will get better, etc.
might have a better chance of recovery compared to those that don't.
Let's examine where some of our beliefs come from and how accurate they are.
My brother, born a year and a half before me, died in 1974 at the age of 20.
I had one counselor tell me that everyone can "get over" the loss of
someone. You know - go through each stage of grief… The first is shock/denial.
Then you move on later to anger and depression. You can move back and forth with
these two and later to acceptance. Actually you can break these stages down
further if you want, but basically those are the stages.
I have reached the stage of acceptance with the loss of my brother a long time
ago. However the emotional pain does not stop. The pictures in my head of what
the accident may have looked like or what he may have looked like come but
rarely. I still ache for his presence.
He was killed in an automobile accident and I suspect drugs so I am still angry
at him for his carelessness and for hurting so many other people.
I was young when this happened and many say this permanently changed me. Why do
you suppose? What have the losses in your life done to you? What statements do
you say about life as a result of your losses?
There are many kinds of losses - loss of jobs, loss of relationships, loss of a
lifestyle, etc. These losses teach us about life. What life is for us, depends
upon our experiences, our personality and how we were raised in my opinion.
My neighbor does not believe in God because her mother died at a young age due
to severe diabetes and did not take care of herself. Apparently her mother
suffered miserably and my neighbor felt that if there was a God, He/She would
not allow that kind of suffering. You see, if my neighbor would have had a
radically different childhood experience, her core beliefs might be very
Be careful about what you "learn" due to your experiences.
I learned that I was mortal and that life was not very important. My brother
spent all his life in school for nothing. He may as well have stayed home and
played because going to school amounted to nothing as he died at age 20. So why
was anything I was doing important? What a fool I was to think that I was
important and that my life was.
I began as a fresh person with an air of innocence. Each strand of my hair was
made by God and was important and had a purpose.
After my brother's death, really nothing, including myself was important
anymore. I was permanently stained with my brother's death on me so life began
to be about emotional pain and I remember wondering why everyone wasn't an
alcoholic. How could anyone stand life otherwise? I have an additive personality
but not chemically.
The joke I had heard actually made some sense. "What is the definition of
reality? An illusion brought on by the lack of alcohol."
I remember envying alcoholics because they had a place to escape to and I
In fact I remember my dad taking his adopted daughter years later to an
orthodontist 8 hours out of their area as he was highly recommended. I could not
comprehend this. It made no sense to me as a person had no importance and to
think of someone traveling 8 hours for orthodontic work was like saying they
were highly valuable as if it mattered about their teeth.
It is much easier to learn something than it is to UNlearn something. I had to
UNlearn all the incorrect absolute nonsense that I told myself about me, other
people and life after my brother died. Why? Because it was toxic. It was making
me ill and keeping me there.
I had to learn how to love myself and discover that indeed I am a wondrous and
precious human being.
Part of learning to love myself included forgiving myself for all my behavior
related to my illness. That was a lot!
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Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All