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Do you believe in reality?

Do you believe in reality?

Such a strange question, right?

Even a Platonist who claimed to believe that everything was an illusion would have to agree that the persisting illusion of "reality" is real.

Do you believe that some features of reality change?

Do you believe that some features of reality change and then you get to have a modified reality?

Even a stranger question!

Our actions tell us what we believe

Yet most of us often act as if we don't believe in reality in the three different ways:

  • We don't believe in some feature of reality as it existed in the past.

  • We don't believe in some feature of reality as it currently exists.

  • We won't believe in some feature of reality if it will not be a certain way in the future.

Here's the evidence that you don't believe in (some of) reality

Every time you believe a "should" or a "should not" you're saying one or more of the following:


  • "I don't believe in this feature of reality as it existed in the past."

  • "I don't believe in this feature of reality as it currently is."

  • "I won't believe in this feature of reality in the future if it is not a certain way."


  • "I should have been kinder to my parents."

  • "My wife should not have an affair."

  • "I should stop drinking so much."

  • "Children should go to school."

  • "My son should not have killed himself."

Living inside the world of "shoulds" and "should nots"

Most of us much of the time live inside a world of "shoulds" and "should nots." We're living inside a world that denies the truth of whatever features of reality we don't like. Somehow we've decided it's "better" to believe only the aspects of reality that we like.

Interesting, don't you think?

The costs of not believing in reality

Yes, we get some benefits (mostly short-term) from denying certain features of reality. I won't go into those here. But the costs are immense.

I challenge you to show me a single case of where you (or someone else) is denying reality by believing in a "should" or "should not" and they are not suffering from that denial.


My mother suffered

My mother persisted for over 40 years in staying married to a man she did not love and did not respect because she "should" be persistent and she "should not" leave someone who needed her.

My brother-in-law suffered

My brother-in-law fought in Vietnam and suffered with horrific mental/emotional flashbacks all his life because he believed he "should" defend his country.

I suffered

I suffered from guilt and from thinking I was a bad boy for seven years (from age 12-19) because I believed I "should not" masturbate.

My Arizona friend suffered 

An Arizona friend had to quit working for herself doing what she loved doing and was getting paid for because he believed that she "should not" accept money from others for something she would love doing without receiving money.

My Chinese friend continues to suffer

A Chinese friend is majoring in accounting, a subject she dislikes, because she "should" be a good daughter and do what her parents want her to do.

Over a thousand pages

I could easily write over a thousand-page journal, documenting all the specific incidents of suffering (both past and present) that were and are caused by all the "shoulds" and "should nots," only drawing upon my personal knowledge of people who are or have been my family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and clients.

And you probably could too.

Do you believe in reality?

"The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off."

-Werner Erhard

A dictum to summarize (and remember)

Shoulding is shitting where you're sitting.

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