Fantasy is there to change the world. We need it to desire or want something. It’s how we overcome the situation we are in now towards having an impact. We also need fantasy to feel safe about our future, as we can’t question every detail of tomorrow.
Reality as such hardly exists. There is what we perceive as a reality that is impacted by the many fantasies we’ve integrated into our experience. The story we tell ourselves being part of it. As we have a perception of reality it also means that everyone else has their own perception of reality. They rarely match.
Experiencing the difference between reality and fantasy always comes as a shock.
It’s where grief starts. It’s a moment in which we experience a loss and have to work our way towards letting that loss happen. It’s a work of attachment, of letting go as much as of integration.
Our processing of grief involves negotiation, anger, and denial which all deal with a difference between reality, fantasy, as well as the relationship between self and the other. Negotiation is there to transform the original fantasy towards another one to continue to have something to hope for. The denial serves to protect from the reality that can’t be coped with in that moment, it thus transforms reality instead of acknowledging it. Anger is the part of the process that deals with protecting one’s self from whatever we see happening with the other. It’s rebuilding the relationship through installments of a self that processes the situation.
All of these steps deal with some part of the difference between fantasy and reality. It is a process that happens one issue after the other while discovering the details that can be addressed. One issue after the other can then be recognized as a loss which in turn can be acknowledged and respected through sadness.
While there is a logical order of the process that can be established, everyone experiences them in their preferred order and as often as needed. Sometimes the gap between fantasy and reality can only be processed in small chunks which implies going several times through the different steps.
Eventually integrating the gap leads to creativity and a hidden treasure. It’s the one we find when looking back at an experience we can see what it led to or what we learned from it.
What’s useful to remember, is that it is a process that happens constantly in everyday life. It can for example happen when a leader makes a request the team member hadn’t expected. It can happen when the circumstances change. There are many situations in which we’ll experience how others deny a situation, start to negotiate, or become angry. It gives us an idea of where they are in their grief and how to support the process.