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March 29, 2004

The Unreal World

After group therapy intensives, it is common to hear participants stating how tough it is to go back into the "real world." At these times people often think that the emotional honesty and intimacy that develops during an intensive is an unrealistic illusion. At these times it may appear that the hard, cold, outer world is the "real" one.

I beg to differ. Often during intensives, and in any truly connected relationship, the direct and open sharing of self that takes place is real. In these relationships we are not hiding and pretending to be what we are not. We do not say we are "fine" when we feel otherwise. Instead, we are being real.

Our dysfunctional society is what is "unreal." It is in these "civilized" social circumstances that we say one thing when we really think another, that we show a happy face when we really feel sad, that we pretend to be confident when we really feel confused.

Although the "unreal" social world is predominant and does exist, this doesn't mean it has to predominate our lives. "Real" relationships may be difficult to find and maintain, but that doesn't mean that they aren't a realistic, natural, healthy preference.

The first relationship in which we need to be real is the relationship with ourselves. To be dishonest and unreal with ourselves leads to disaster—physically and emotionally. There is really not much choice. And if we can be real with ourselves, we will have little choice but to be real with others we can trust. Once we can create that haven of reality, there is rarely any going back.

The real world starts right here, right now.

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