The problem with reality

For those unfamiliar with Husserl’s philosophy he is not only the inventor (creator? Developer? How does one describe a new philosophy?) of phenomenology. Phenomenology is the study of human experience or as I like to call it the answer to the question WTF? As is WTF just happened, is going on, is your problem? And really any other question of an experiential nature. I may talk about that more at sone point as amongst my many titles would be phenomenologist, which just sounds cool. Seriously drop that one at a party sometime. No the reason I bring up this vintage German philosopher is because in on of his early works he coined the phrase subjective reality.

This term has many meanings and is one of the more misunderstood ideas, but the mismanagement of this construct brings many of my patients to me.

Subjective reality literally means the world which you experience, the reality, is literally something only you can experience because it is dependent on your perspective which is again something only you can have. Others can interact with your view of reality, they could even come to understand it, but to truly experience another’s reality is not possible. This idea leads to the existential truth of being alone. Also not what I intend to discuss today but this one is seriously cool, especially if you want to develop the brooding aspects of your personality. In a nutshell what this truth states is that no matter how closely connected you feel you are to another person because this other person cannot really know the person you actually are (because you don’t even know it) and because they can ever really experience the world as you do (because of subjective reality) you are ultimately alone. I know, deep right?

Another truth brought out by the concept of subjective reality is the world in which exist, that is the reality you experience, is created one decision or circumstance at a time. That is why you experience the world as you are, not as it is because you are the one making the decisions which define your reality. Again relying on over simplification, one choice at a time you create the world in which you live. of course sone of those decisions you are aware of (they are conscious) and sone of those decisions you are unaware of (they are unconscious), but as I tell my patients being unaware of making the decision does not mean you are not making it.

This is a problem for some specific reasons but let me just focus on two. Well technically two sides of one coin but whatever.

The specific problems I’m thinking of are first that if you look around you someday and decide you don’t like the world you are living in you have no one to blame but yourself. You created the world you live in one decision or choice at a time. This is a reality many of my patients have rejected, sometimes loudly, because admittedly it is a bit much to accept first time around, especially if your life is heal because of what someone else did to you when you were young or in other ways vulnerable. It doesn’t make it less true just because you were abused or in other ways chewed up by the dragon of chaos. It just makes the road to accepting the truth potentially more difficult.

You are making choices all the time and even if as Rush pointed out you refuse to choose, you still are making a choice. And I get it, if your life is unmanageable in sone way which is significant enough for you to come see me, for me to tell you (often within the first two sessions) that your life is hell because you are making hellish choices, it probably seems pretty unsatisfying.

Don’t get me wrong I do discuss the ways in which my patients have been treated by others as varying levels of horrible and none of that is the fault of my patients. None of that is the fault of you either. By and large you are not to blame for anything that happens too you, but you are responsible for dealing with it, healing from it, and that is your responsibility.

The other side of that subjective reality coin is equally difficult to accept for sone of my patients though not as much so as the other, and that is this: if you created the world which you are living in and that you do not like, you can create a new world any time you want. You just have to start making better choices. My suggestion is that you make more conscious choices and to learn how to do so is the real reason all my patients come to see me.

It goes a little something like this. Let’s say you are on you second or third or fourth marriage or other form of romantic relationship which just imploded. You come to see me because you are “depressed” or “anxious” but really you came to see me because you have to find out why all men are pigs. I tell you not all men are pigs but you are attracted to pigs and thereby attracting them to you. You have created a reality where all men are pigs because that is what you are looking for. “Why would I want to date a pig?” They ask, maybe you are too. The answer to that question is a bit more complicated and it depends on what you mean when you say pig, but it boils down to how your father treated your mother growing up. As the father is the first love object a woman has if her father is a pig then a daughter will grow up attracted to pigs even you didn’t like your father or how he treated your mother. Like a baby duckling you imprinted on what you saw first and now you are out in the world being attracted to the precise type of man you don’t want to be attracted to.

The solution is to stop being attracted to the types of men you don’t like and start being attracted to the types you do. It is both that simple and that difficult.

By dealing with (processing) the emotions you could not experience as a child because of your age or your maturity and experiencing them now, you will do just that. You will shift the type of person you are attracted to up a bit and you may find that not all men are pigs. Sone happen to be quite pleasant.

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