Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
How Reality Works
© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
In the fight between you and the world, bet
on the world.
What do I know? Im with Socrates, who repeatedly said that the only thing he knew is that he knew nothing. How audacious, even grandiose, to offer some slice or take, example or illustration, pointing to the gargantuan topic of how reality works! Well, why not?! As the above law states, you inevitably lose when you fight the world. The same goes for the law, authority or gravity! So, heres one slice or take of how reality works. Fools go where angels fear to tread. Youre welcome to hold my feet to the proverbial fire. Please grant some leeway since the picture grows increasingly tough for a while. The big finish is wonderfully empowering and exhilarating, transformative and joyous. Hang in there.
all begins with the gentlest tap on your shoulder. Almost imperceptible, it usually
goes unnoticed and unacknowledged, like a gust of wind. Thats okay; reality
is patient. All reality wants to do is send a message that you will fully receive
and act upon, and it is absolutely ruthless in doing this! No kidding! Its
not that it means you any harm or brings an intention of malice. It just wants
your full attention and timely response. Is this asking too much? Is this asking
too much, particularly since the message almost always has to do with you or your
loved ones continued presence on the planet, not to mention preventing harm
or further harm, and preserving and enhancing your well-being?
comes a little firmer tap on the same shoulder. If unmet, then comes a stronger
poking, often provoking a Come on now! reaction. Nevertheless, if
still unaddressed, comes a powerful slug that almost always prompts a Whats
the big idea, bub?, or Who do you think you are?! If still nothing
is forthcoming, what can reality do other than to take a 2 X 4 piece of wood and
slam it upside your rear or head! That would get almost anyones attention,
at least momentarily! If thats not enough, yes then come the 4 X 6, the
6 X 8, the 8 X 10, and even the 10 X 12 inch thick foundational timber slamming
into you! How rude! Who is setting up all of this? Take a wild guess. If you guessed
your ego-mind, who you think you are, you would be correct. It might be having
your boyfriend or girlfriend drop you over lack of listening or affection, or
being mistreated and taken for granted. It could be a minor car run-in or a ticket.
It could take the form of putting on weight, having headaches, or being stressed.
If still unheard and not responded to, reality will throw a whole huge tree, possibly a mammoth Oak or Redwood, directly at you. This could take the form of a health issue, such as hypertension, high triglycerides, cortisol, and cholesterol. This could take the form of getting drunk for the umpteenth time, getting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), being jailed, losing your driving license, and paying for an expensive lawyer. Your wife or husband could walk out, and not look back. This could take the form of losing your job over chronic lateness, high absenteeism, and poor work performance. The message remains to be heard, as soon as you get past the denial, avoidance, and rationalization, and face reality. Resistance or stress only creates suffering on top of the pain. Pain is mandatory; suffering is optional.
Until the message completely lands, reality will keep ratcheting it up. All it wants, honest, is to send you a message that you will wholly listen to, receive, and act upon. What will it take to awaken you? Without response, reality then will throw an entire grove of trees, to be followed by a quarter of the forest, half the forest, and the entire forest targeted at you! Ouch!!! This must be painful! Now were up to repeated D.T.s (Delirium Tremens or serious loss of consciousness secondary to chronic alcoholism), serious obesity with all the health complications therein, and any serious chronic illness. Were also looking at substantial breakdowns in social and occupational functioning, including having to go into foreclosure, declare bankruptcy, and live at friends homes. Perhaps you become homeless or otherwise destitute, or commit a crime and get arrested, none of which is a pretty picture for any one.
Amazingly, if you are unwilling to wake up and get the message, reality has no choice but to up it all another notch. At this stage, its like being in a whirlpool going down into a sinkhole or a Tsunami that is over 100 feet in height imminently about to crash over you. This may take the form of you being stricken with a stroke or heart attack, or a third or fourth stage cancer diagnosis, intractable severe pain condition, or other severe health disorder. This may take the form of friends and family cutting bait with you, given you being seen as hopelessly lost in addiction and they need to protect themselves and their families. This may take the form of being arrested and incarcerated for gross fraud, fiscal malfeasance, or other white-collar crime. This may take the form of a so-called nervous breakdown or simply the inability to function in your life any more, necessitating involuntary psychiatric hospitalization.
It is profoundly sad and unfortunate to report that there are still people on this planet who refuse to wake up and receive realitys message at this point, yet remarkably it occurs every day. This is a desperate juncture because the stakes are no longer your quality of life; rather the stakes are nothing less than your life or your death. This stage can be likened to any disaster or post-apocalypse movie, that is, pure desperation and exasperation. The scene is one of being robbed in an alley, knifed in prison or being on your deathbed, and you die. Practicing in the field of clinical psychology and therapy for over three decades, Ive seen people at every stage. Few of them were in the early stages. Saying that Ive felt profoundly sad, would be putting it mildly indeed. Beyond using every approach and resource I know of, in conjunction with peer-consultation, there was not a single thing I could do. It is not up to me.
Now the really exciting and even exhilarating news is this: it need not be this way for any one. All it takes is waking up as early as humanly possible and responding. Its just that simple, although not easy. People mix those two up all the time since most of us want life to be easy, and it oftentimes isnt, and we somehow miss the simple part since it seems to put in jeopardy our lifestyle attachments, that is, what we want and desire whether it is good for us or not. The truth is that across this entire spectrum, at any stage along this continuum, you have the opportunity and apparent choice to wake up, listen, receive the news, be sure it is accurate, and take corrective actions. Heres an alternative scenario played out.
Heres the vision this unknowing
being offers using this same allegory or morality tale. Yes, once again you receive
the gentle tap on the shoulder. Before reality needs to up the ante to get my
presence and attention, I notice the tap and quickly respond with, Yes,
yes, what is it? I want to hear everything you have to share with me. Ill
shut up now and completely listen up. This will cost you one imaginary ego,
yours. In the still silence that follows, listen within to receive the messages
contained in this reality feedback of the gentle tap on the shoulder. The feedback
simply isnt present without serving a purpose. No, I do not do this 100
percent of the time, and the matching is getting better all the time.
In deciphering and decoding the feedback, whether bodily, emotionally, relationally or energetically, paraphrase back what you receive to ensure it is accurate and you are not overlooking, missing, or distorting anything. Once clarity is present and there is a resonance with the feedback being both accurate and complete, then various reparative actions can be seriously explored. At this turning point, it is wise to let your body and reality know that youve had enough, really get the feedback and are signed up and committed in action to address the message. Thus, continued painful feedback is not necessary and can now cease. Reality can watch what we do, and we do it. This is way too simple?! Life is sweet when we listen, engage and take action. You can begin to smile again, and reality smiles too!
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