Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Fantasy Dad

In the absence of my real father, I created an idea of what fathers are like.  A vision of what a man and father are and what they might be like if I had one.  This man was the type of man who wore a suit to work and did important business things, then came home and played catch with his son, coached the little league team.  He was a romantic, generous and loving husband.  He was strong and caring and always had your back.
That man never became my father and that disappointment has been the source of a dull, aching pain that I have mostly ignored my entire life.

You may have created a "Fantasy Dad" too and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  The danger is when you think that what it means to be a good man or father is being exactly like the fantasy you created in your mind as a child.  

My "Fantasy Dad" was absolutely perfect in every way, truly God-like, every good quality you could imagine in a human being all at once and all the time.
I used my "Fantasy Dad" as the model for what it means to be a man.  That was the measuring stick to live up to.  And, unfortunately I've learned in my 31 years that no one is "perfect" at least in the way our egos would measure perfection.  (For the record, From a spiritual perspective I believe everyone is perfect and all of it is perfect.)

Trying to become my "Fantasy Dad" is a 24/7/365 job with no finish line. It means whatever I accomplish is never enough, it never measures up: running 9 marathons (wasn't fast enough and should have done 10) graduating college with a 3.5 GPA (Should have been better school), being promoted to E-6 at 21 in the Army (It was just the Reserves), or making 100k a year by 27 (I got lucky).

Not only is this exhausting because I have to constantly achieve in order to be worthy, I never get to enjoy wins in life because nothing I ever do will measure up.

How do we escape this rat race? Here are some tips to support you:

1. What was your "Fantasy Dad" like? Write it down, what kind of work did he do? How did he treat women? How did he treat his children?
2. Notice everywhere and every time you are measuring yourself against the fantasy of a man you created.
3. Celebrate your wins even if it feels stupid.  Treat yourself in whatever way you treat yourself and make it a point to celebrate even small wins. Eventually, you will build a muscle that allows you to enjoy life.

 Just noticed, I'm feeling like this blog wasn't very good. So I have one more practice for you and I.  

4. Practice letting go of your interpretations about your work. There mostly unreliable.  Ask other people to acknowledge you for your greatness.

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