A Familiar Story

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However subtly, however difficult to discern, what we believe issues in what we do. Our theories are compasses, if not maps.1
Ah, you believe only houses are constructed? I construct myself continually and I construct you, and you do the same. And the construction lasts as long as the material of our feelings doesn't crumble and as long as the cement of our will lasts. Why do you believe firmness of will is so highly touted, and constancy of feelings? The former has only to waver a little, and the latter has only to be altered by one degree or change ever so slightly, and it's goodbye to our reality! We realize immediately that it was only our delusion.2
These creative fantasies, this imaginative circumambulating of one's partner, are of the greatest importance in every human relationship ... Everyone needs to fantasy about himself, to circle about and awaken his own potential in mythological or fairy tale form.3
The psyche constructs; it invents images and the mind follows them as its guides; "guiding fictions," Adler calls them.4
We see what our ideas ... allow us to see.5

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This is a story about …


A, B and C are flatmates as well as good friends. For various reasons A and B frequently forget to wash their dishes, meaning that C will often find himself washing up for them. This is a regular and ongoing situation. How should C feel about this, and how should he act? Let’s imagine how the story may progress ...

1. C could have words with A and B and politely ask them to do their own dishes, explaining that it is unfair that he should have to clean up after them.

2. He could indignantly demand that they change their selfish ways, pointing out that it is ridiculous that they should expect him to have to repeatedly wash up their mess.

3. He could take the route of martyrdom and carry on doing their dishes for them, all the while feeling like his good nature is being exploited and building up a slow burning resentment for his two friends.

There are clearly many ways of handling the situation, dependent upon how C chooses to view what is happening to him. This, then, is the crux of the matter; how C views the situation will determine how he reacts to it.

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