Fantasies reveal to us symbolically what we may be missing in our lives. When we look at our fantasies metaphorically, they can point the way to our path to wholeness. However, we often take them too literally, and fail to realize the real need underlying the fantasy. For instance, the desire for an exceptional car might really signify our need for personal power, freedom, or the sense of being special.
Indulging literally in the whims of imagination can be a pleasurable escape from everyday reality. It can also inspire you to work hard, to pursue a new path, and even to change the course of your life. However, fantasies are deceptive in that they highlight the pleasure, thrill, and magic of what’s possible, and leave out the dreary, difficult, and inconvenient aspects of reality. They also often substitute the literal object for the quality that we could benefit from developing in ourselves.
Statistics have shown that most lottery winners lose all their gains within five years and often wish they had never won the lottery. The documentary “Lucky” follows several lottery winners after they have won the lottery to see how their “luck” ends up changing their lives.
One of the few people whose lives are not spoiled by winning the lottery is a math professor who had always fantasized about buying a Lamborghini. Once he is able to make his fantasy a reality, however, he chooses not to buy the exotic car, but to stick with his car and his life, having realized that having the fantasy was better than the would-be reality. He decides that owning the car would not be worth envy of the neighbors nor the worry about where to park to avoid damage to the precious car.
That’s not to say that it might not be satisfying to acquire exceptional and fancy things. Yet, it’s wise to remember that fantasies don’t consider the various challenges that come with their realization. Moreover, whatever fantasies come true, you remain the same person.
On the other hand, by learning what is motivating the fantasy, you don’t have to win the lottery to start integrating the sought-for qualities within yourself.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD