You Create Your Reality – Part 4 Illusion

Written by on July 2, 2013 in Conversations on the Healing Journey with 3 Comments


Purple flower

photo by Doug Wheller

It’s all an illusion.

A premise for how you create your own reality is that what you think is real isn’t. In fact, it’s an illusion. Again, in this article as in others, I’m not arguing for or against the validity of this or any particular belief. What I’m interested in is looking at how this aspect of you create your own reality is used in covert abuse.

The idea is that because reality is an illusion it is “malleable” to one’s thoughts.  Reality as illusion can be changed by what we pay attention to. Hence the techniques to shift our focus onto things we want. Techniques such as writing or repeating affirmations or mantras, the use of imagery either through visualization or pictures from magazines and books serve to help us do that.

The abuse of reality as illusion is the use of it to invalidate your experience and you

It’s not real, so why are you choosing to make a big deal out of it? they may ask. Since it’s not real, it isn’t really happening. If you are spiritual you should know that. If you are hurting and you know better, then you are manipulating.

In one twisted reasoning, you become the abuser and the abuser the target.

Seems a bit incredulous? It happens.

If reality is something you are creating for you to experience, the assertion goes, don’t waste time holding them accountable. Look at yourself.

Looking at yourself is a good idea. There may be dynamics you are contributing to that need to be changed. It might be helpful to examine your own motives or realize you need to make different choices. At some point in any situation, whether success or failure, loving or hurtful, it’s always good to see to what portion we contributed for which we can take credit or responsibility, and learn from it. That’s empowering.

But only looking at yourself gives you a partial picture.

The thing about covert abusers, especially narcissistic ones, is they like to believe they are the center of the universe. It’s all about them. They expect and demand that you treat them as such when it means giving them what they want. However, responsibility is never what they want.

It is then that you find that you are the center of the universe…of blame, and then it really is all about you.

Reality is an illusion when it’s something the abuser doesn’t like. If they hurt you, you either created it or it’s all any illusion anyway, so what does it matter?. You, on the other hand, hurting them, perceived or actually, is not only real but a major crime against humanity.

The misuse of this metaphysical idea is the same: to absolve the abuser of any culpability or responsibility for their behavior and choices. Whether they are not responsible because you created them doing it or they are not responsible because in truth they didn’t actually do anything because it’s all an illusion, the covert abuser escapes accountability.

Whether you believe reality is an illusion or not, the reality you call your life or that impacts your life is still part of your experience. You need to learn from it, all of it. When someone attempts to prevent you from doing that, it’s not only not only self-serving but abusive. Covert abusers who are fluent in metaphysical or spiritual speak use these beliefs to disorient, confuse and undermine sincere seekers or practitioners.

If you believe your thoughts create your reality and that reality is an illusion, what does that mean to you? It’s apparent what it means to the abuser. What does it mean to you?

Consider this. Let’s say you have an underlying belief that says people treat you like crap and your reality reflects or manifests that. Does this mean you dismiss the crap or address it? If as a good spiritual person, it means you’ll want to address any underlying belief that supports or creates such a reality, does that mean it precludes you from addressing the physical reality of it or the part each person plays in it?

The abuse with it’s all an illusion is the way it is used to not only justify unjustifiable behavior but to enlist you as an accomplice, to imply that you were somehow a collaborator in whatever ill is befalling you, and therefore at least just as culpable as the one hurting you if not more. The inference then is that you should, therefore, put up with it or dismiss it. At any rate, you’ve lost the right to complain or object.

But if anything’s not real, it’s that kind of rationalization, because it’s filled with hidden agenda. The reality of that line of thinking is the purely self-serving purpose to allow the covert abuser to continue abusing you.

So what is real? Is it all really just an illusion? Well, maybe it is and maybe it’s not, but this is what we have. And if it is an illusion, it’s an important one, because people have feelings about it, and people matter. You matter.

Do you hurt? That is not inconsequential.

Have you caused someone to hurt? That is not irrelevant.

One thing reality isn’t, illusion or not. Reality, your reality isn’t for someone else to mold into whatever fits their agenda. And your reality and how you experience it isn’t simply so much chalk dust for you to dust off your hands or someone else to scrape off their shoe.

The bottom line is, what you experience is what you experience. Whether it’s part of some divine plan in the cosmic scheme of things, an illusion or just a luck-of-the-draw fact of nature, you need to be real and you need to be here and you need to be honest about who and what you are.

If someone tells you to chill because it’s all an illusion, say “Yeah, so what?” Then don’t let them off the hook.

Know the truth about who you are. If you’re an illusion, then you are a beautiful one, and if reality is not real then the love and compassion and kindness — your love and compassion and kindness — that finds expression through it is.

Don’t let anyone dismiss that, including you.

~Demian Yumei

If you find these posts meaningful, please, share them with others. I’d be grateful and delighted if you could use the buttons below to spread the word. And if you use any portion of this post, please link back to this blog. Thank you!

You Create Your Own Reality Series:
You Create Your Own Reality Part 1: Use and Misuse
You Create Your Own Reality Part 2: Impact
You Create Your Own Reality Part 3: Focus
You Create Your Own Reality Part 4: Illusion


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About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, using spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. Demian is a traveler on the healing journey with a lifelong love affair with the creative process. .


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  • isilzhaveni says:

    I want to say again (and in a more recent post), that you have some of the best writing and information about covert abuse I’ve found.  It seems that most people don’t understand that abuse can be actually covert and that just because there are no bruises and broken bones, doesn’t mean that there isn’t abuse.  Even those that address emotional/verbal abuse usually fail to understand that it’s not always as direct as an abuser calling his victim a whore because she wants to go out with friends on the weekend.  My husband would never have said something like that, he’s a “modern” man after all, and gets the whole “feminism” thing.
    Covert abuse is pervasive.  It colors almost every interaction.  It leaves you feeling unsettled, anxious, confused, frustrated and angry.  It leaves you questioning your very perceptions of the world.  The abuser makes sure to let you know that your feelings are not legitimate, your expectations are crazy and unreasonable, and you don’t appreciate anything he does.  It’s when you’re driving in a strange city, trying to find the exit you need and your husband is going 20 miles over the speed limit and changing lanes every few minutes.  If you ask him to slow down and stay in one lane, he lashes out about how you’re always criticizing his driving.  It doesn’t matter that most people would do just that when they don’t want to miss the exit, have no idea which side the exit is on and there are 8 lanes of traffic.  It doesn’t matter than you can barely read the map because it’s dark and he’s changing lanes so abruptly you keep getting flung from side to side and losing your place.  Later, you’ll go over and over what you said, how you said it, if you were being “unreasonable”, etc.  What you don’t realize is he’s doing the same thing, not about his behavior, but about yours.  If you try to discuss the interaction later it will only be about how you “always” criticize his driving, that you used some “tone” he didn’t like or had a “bad attitude”, that the other drivers were idiots and he had to drive the way he did and how he’s a great driver who hasn’t had an accident in ages.  It does not matter that your request was reasonable, even logical.  Covert abuse is when you think it’s normal to close your eyes when he’s driving so you don’t have to see him tailgating the car ahead so closely you barely can count “one thousand one” while doing 80, both hands off the wheel and playing with his cell phone.  Covert abuse will have you feeling profoundly unsafe with your husband while trying to remind yourself he hasn’t had an accident in a long time, but not able to deny the evidence he’s driving in a very reckless manner and not able to suppress the anxiety and fear you feel.  You wonder if he drives this way with everyone.  You try to picture him driving that way with his boss in the car and you just can’t.  Maybe some part of you realizes he may only drive so recklessly with you in the car.  It makes you confused and anxious, even hurt, but you don’t realize it’s abusive.
    It’s when your husband unloads the dishwasher and keeps putting stuff on a shelf that you can’t safely reach even with the step-stool.  It’s when that happens over and over again for the 13 years you’ve lived in the house and you’ve shown him how hard it is for you to reach that shelf several times over the years.

    It’s when your husband comes home after 11pm for the second time in a week, you ask him if he’s having an affair and he blows up at you, saying he works hard and you’re maligning his character.  Doesn’t matter that he smells like soap and you know he hasn’t showered at home since yesterday morning.  However, when he finally confesses the affair the next day you will certainly remember his “outrage”, defensive behavior and the weird choice of phrase that you were “maligning” his character, all things he’s done in one form or another over the years.  Finally, once he leaves, you’ll look up emotional/verbal abuse and eventually will find out about passive-aggressive and covert abuse, and for the first time it becomes clear what was really going on in your relationship.

  • isilzhaveni says:

    Covert abuse is when you try to explain to your best friend only to
    have her say stuff like, “Well, everyone is passive aggressive
    sometimes”, “Men tend to be more aggressive drivers”, “He’s such a nice
    guy though”, “I’ve thrown stuff during an argument, does that mean I’m
    abusive?” (when I told her my husband violently ripped the door to his
    office APART, not yank it off the hinges, but pulled it apart, had
    splinters in his hands/arm and was bleeding),  “Oh, I ask my husband to
    pick stuff up from the grocery store” (after trying to explain that I
    have to ask, often beg, for EVERYTHING.), “Well, men aren’t raised to
    discuss their feelings.” (after explaining about this pathological
    passive aggression and what I’ve learned about it), “Sounds like a
    mid-life crisis and he just wanted a different life.”, “Sounds like he
    emotionally disconnected years ago.” (after telling her about the overt
    abuse he had subjected me to for the last 4 years like standing over me
    screaming in rage, calling me names, telling me I’m “worthless” and
    “useless”, not taking me to a doctor when I was so sick I thought I was
    dying, when he “apologized” down on his knees mocking me and using a
    thick, angry sarcastic tone said he was “sorrrry” while aggressively
    grabbing at me, when he screamed at me in the doorway of my office and
    wouldn’t let me leave, etc).  All of that was stuff she said to me AFTER
    my husband had an affair and left.  For some bizarre reason she was
    determined to defend him.  It was like trying to talk to my
    soon-to-be-ex husband; all my perceptions immediately challenged and
    dismissed.  Then, of course, she has to say, well, I was actually abused
    by one of my boyfriends–he beat me.  Never mind my husband had more
    than once used physical force (tackling me and pinning me to the ground,
    punching me in the face).  Apparently for some people, if you’re not
    regularly ending up with bruises it can’t be abuse.
    why I found your writings on covert abuse so valuable.  It’s not easy to
    describe covert abuse and what it can look like.  It’s also not easy to
    point to even one pattern of interactions to use as an example. People
    will dismiss it as just some idiosyncrasy of one person or the
    relationship.  Or, worse, they refuse to believe the victim’s perception
    since they know the abuser is “such a nice guy”.  The problem is that
    the abusive dynamic is everywhere, all the time.  Plus, the abuser
    deliberately cultivates a ‘nice guy” image for the rest of the world. 
    He doesn’t act this way in front of family, friends and certainly
    doesn’t treat his coworkers or boss like that.  My husband actually used
    that against me.  He sat me down and in a very conversational tone said
    he could talk to anyone in the world, but not me, so I must me the one
    who has the problem.  Of course, trying to tell him he’d never screamed
    at anyone else, called them names or ripped a door apart in front of
    them while in a rage meant nothing to him.  He said he would never have
    done all of that if I hadn’t “pissed him off”.  
     After all those
    years of trying to discuss with him the problems in our relationship,
    trying to get him to take some responsibility for his part, I finally
    realized that I was Sisyphus with that rock–it was an impossible goal,
    designed for failure.  It didn’t matter what I did, how I did it, the
    logic I used, how I said it, when I said it, my “tone” or “attitude”, if
    I found an article or book to say what I seemed to not be making clear
    (this was one of my tactics of desperation as I kept feeling like I
    somehow needed to prove what I felt was legitimate or I needed some
    authority he could respect to believe what I was saying had any merit. 
    He’d just refuse to read anything I gave him and then complain I asked
    him to read it.), if I waited until he was in a good mood, or if I wrote
    it down; there was literally nothing I could have done which would not
    have been met with some level of covert hostility and reprisal.  If he
    couldn’t even accept the impact his overt abusive behavior had on
    communication and he still sought to place all the blame on me, then
    there is no way I could have somehow managed to convince him to accept
    responsibility for the damage his covert behaviors had.  You think
    you’re dealing with someone who ultimately has the same goal–resolve
    conflict and build a strong marriage–but you’re not.  In fact, you are
    dealing with someone who refuses any responsibility and who also enjoys
    the sense of power and control they feel when they are able to
    manipulate, confuse and blame you.  It is certainly behavior designed to
    drive you crazy and it works.

  • DemianYumei says:

    isilzhaveniDear Isilzhaveni, let me welcome you to this blog, thank you for your very kind words and for sharing your story here. I did respond to your initial comment on another post, but for some reason THAT post will not publish comments. I have sent a request for help on that one. So if you didn’t see my response to you there, let me extend a very warm welcome to you here now! 
    No doubt, as others read your comments, there will be more than a few who will nod their head in agreement and with understanding as they see those same dynamics played out in their lives. In telling your story you are offering validation to others, and for that I thank you.

    You were spot on when you wrote “Even those that address emotional/verbal abuse usually fail to
    understand that it’s not always as direct as an abuser calling his
    victim a whore because she wants to go out with friends on the weekend. 
    My husband would never have said something like that, he’s a “modern”
    man after all, and gets the whole “feminism” thing.”
     I think too many people have the perception that covert abuse is mainly verbal having to do mainly with name calling, and although that can be part of it, it’s so much more. It appears to me that the underlying dynamic of covert abuse is invalidation. There are many ways to invalidate a person, but name calling is only one of them.
    Self-righteous rage, indignation is one of the most effective ways to 1) invalidate your perception and attack your ability to discern and 2) cover one’s tracks when engaged in something illicit or wrong. Get too close to the truth, and you’re liable to set off a tirade as you’ve described in your own experience. 

    I am so sorry you have gone through the abuse that you did. I feel you were correct in your assessment of the covertly abusive nature of your relationship with your friend. As hard as that is, I’m glad you are beginning to see covert abuse where it appears. It is my hope that as you become more mindful of its presence, you will also become more aware of the healthy dynamics and people in this world, and I believe, soon in your world, who desire some truth and authenticity in their interactions with others. You deserve that!

    It sounds like you are growing in your awareness. Take this knowledge and use it to not only decide what you don’t want, but what you do want. I salute you in drawing the line and stepping out into your own life. Others may not always see or understand, but as long as you are willing to tell yourself the truth you will be all right. Because for the first time maybe, you will be on your side. Took me a long time to get to that place for me…and perhaps I am still working on it, but as difficult as the journey as been, I would not go back to where I was for the world.
    Blessings to you, isilzhaveni.

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