The Nine Fantasies That Will Ruin Your Life, and the Eight Realities That Will Save You

The Nine Fantasies That Will Ruin Your Life, and the Eight Realities That Will Save You

by Joy Browne

Audiobook(Cassette - Abridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hrs.)


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375404467
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/13/1998
Edition description: Abridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hrs.
Product dimensions: 4.44(w) x 7.03(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Dr. Joy Browne knows a little something about adventures--she has been an archaeologist, a med school student, an engineer on the space program, and had her own private psychology practice. A licensed clinical psychologist, she received the 1998 American Psychological Association's President's Award for contributions to the field. Voted Best Female Talk Show Host for the last two years by the National Association of Talk Show Hosts, Dr. Joy's radio program is heard on more than 300 stations in the United States and Canada. She is also the author of the bestseller Dating for Dummies and four other books.

Read an Excerpt

Look, I know you think fantasies are fun, sexy, and cool, whether you dream of being Cinderella or Prince Charming, or that your love will be passionate, available, rich, gorgeous, and lovable. Even if you think of yourself as too old or too sophisticated to believe in fairy tales, I'll bet you occasionally indulge in the giddy notion of someday playing for the L.A. Lakers or winning the gold in wrestling by overpowering that third-grade bully who still haunts your nightmares. Maybe in this alternate reality, you're accepting an Oscar or being crowned Miss America or doing something you won't admit to in public. Everybody indulges in fantasies from time to time, but as a lifestyle choice, we're talking di-sas-ter! Even if these seemingly harmless little devils don't ruin your life, they can cause a lot of avoidable misery. The alternative to fantasies is a happy and fulfilling life, so please listen up.

Ruinous fantasy? I can hear you saying. She needs to get a grip. How can a fantasy be anything but pleasurable? How can such a whimsical idea cause anyone harm? Think about it: if you fantasize that you can fly and decide to test the idea from the observation deck of the Empire State Building...well, you get my point.

The purists among you will point out that it's not the belief that's so dangerous, but the action based on the belief, and you'd be right on the money. If I can persuade you to examine your beliefs, then your actions will follow a safer, saner, and more productive path. Okay? Okay.

The Skinny on Fantasies
Repeat after me: Fantasies aren't real. If something isn't real, it's dangerous to believe it. Other people may tell us lies or tryto convince us of their points of view. Their reasons may be lofty or lower than a snake's belly, but a fantasy is a lie we tell ourselves, and because it isn't true, it's toxic, no matter how harmless and whimsical it seems. Fantasies are a distraction from the business of running our lives successfully and realistically. I plan to wrestle these pesky critters to the ground so we can all get on with the pleasure of focused thoughts and energy.

Okay, I admit that fantasies may not actually kill you, but they can make you wish you were dead. They can effectively ruin your life by seducing you into painful and unnecessarily destructive situations. (Fantasy, in fact, is an interesting word: it was originally spelled with a ph rather than an f, which suggests that its related to phantasma ghost, an odd, capricious illusion rather than a reality.) Most of us think of fantasies as dreams that make us happy, but the fantasies discussed here will offer pleasure only temporarily and at great cost. They are familiar and comfortable, but they can be dangerous and counterproductive in the long run.

Fantasies are delusions that no amount of medication can cure; the sufferer requires a dollop of common sense. And you, fair reader, are in luck because sensible is my middle name. Whoops, no fantasies here: I have no middle name, but I am imminently practical and sane. These poisonous fantasies are a lot subtler than the delusion that you're Joan of Arc, but they're also a lot more common. Not to worry. I am going to tell you not only what these fatal notions are and how to avoid them but also how to substitute healthy, life-giving realities that will save you from self-induced misery and enhance your life.

All of us grow up believing certain things to be true. Parents, teachers, grandparents, older siblings, books, Sunday school teachers, baby-sitters, and best friends weave fairy tales about handsome heroes and beautiful maidens. These commonly held beliefs can be

  • Harmless: The world is round. It's not. It's an oblate spheroid, which is fancy talk for a flattened ball. But who cares?
  • Silly: If you make an unpleasant face, Jack Frost will come along and freeze it permanently.
  • Tantalizing: If you kiss your elbow, you'll turn into the opposite sex.
  • Dangerous: If you step on a crack, you'll break your mother's back.
  • Romantic: If you sleep on a slice of wedding cake, you'll dream of your true love.
  • Hopeful: A loose eyelash gives you a free wish.
  • Somewhat practical: Walking under a ladder is bad luck. Sure, it's a mechanically unstable device, and stuff can fall down and clunk you upside the head.

If you're noting that some of these fantasies are superstitions, you're right. Superstition is just fantasy with attitude; it's a way of erroneously trying to control events. You don't have that control; none of us do, but you can adopt a clearer belief system that doesn't depend on superstition to get you in touch with who you are and what you want. This new system will allow you to fine-tune your behavior by dealing with what is, not with what you want. In a word: reality.
As wrongheaded as fantasies are, scores of them guide our lives and shape not only our perceptions but also our behavior. The examples mentioned above are purposely dramatic and fairly irrelevant.

Unfortunately not all dearly held beliefs are so harmless or silly. Certain more relevant assumptions constitute the value system by which we live and run our lives, form our associations, set our goals, raise our children, interact with strangers, and find comfort. These assumptions shape our existence.

The Real Story about Reality
We've become so used to the idea that the real world is dangerous that reality has gotten a really bad reputation. I'm going to show you that reality is a lot less scary than you've been led to believe and that it is actually potentially helpful, healthy, life-affirming, and the most useful game in town.

The question is how do you separate reality from fantasy? The first test of an idea in action is functional: is it working? Most of us aren't even aware of our belief system until something breaks down.

Every day on my nationally syndicated call-in psychology program, I bump up against callers from all over the Northern Hemisphere who are looking for sympathy when their favorite way of behaving--their applied value system--runs into trouble with somebody else's way of doing something. Approximately 95 percent of those who call want me to agree that they are right and that the person who is making them unhappy is wrong and should die a quick and possibly excruciating death. Instead of offering sympathy, which just makes people feel good about feeling bad, I gently but firmly guide them to a less painful way of dealing with spouses, bosses, kids, parents, employees, and even themselves.

As we believe, so we behave. In helping people find different ways of acting, I help them look at the source of their ineffective interactions to see that what they believe is causing their behavior to bomb. It's not easy. Our belief system is basic, dearly beloved, and largely unexamined by most of us. So before we even begin together, I want to warn you that there are several characteristic ways of responding when we are challenged. And I intend to challenge you.

The first response to a challenge is either to run or to fight. Running is moving away from the offending and offensive object (in this case, me), and fighting can take the form of either defending yourself or attacking me. It would be really cool if you could resist both of these impulses, at least temporarily. Just open your mind and your heart, and let's see if we can do this together.

I want you to get real! I want you to be willing to look at these nine fantasies that can ruin your life until you are willing to examine, adjust, and discard them. These fantasies are causing you to spend time and energy living in an imaginary world that will not allow you to be effective. These assumptions are pervasive, ubiquitous, and dangerous.
the big ugly nine fantasies concern...
  • Home: Functional families exist.
  • Perfection: Describes everybody...except me.
  • Money: Winning the lottery would free me.
  • Truth: It will set you free.
  • Sex: Men and women are from different planets.
  • Innocence: Ignorance is bliss.
  • Righteousness: Stick to your guns.
  • Fairness: Good always triumphs.
  • Love: Somewhere I have a soul mate.

These treacherous fantasies need to be dissected and expunged. I'm warning you up front that this process isn't easy, because these myths are deeply ingrained. They're also cleverly disguised as cute rather than malevolent creatures; one of the Seven Dwarfs rather than the Wicked Queen. Even a shiny red apple can turn out to be poisonous. Instead of becoming paranoid about apples, understand that the search for reality is a combination of detective work, excavation, and surgery.



Moderator: Welcome, Dr. Joy Browne! Thank you for taking the time to join us online tonight to discuss your new book, THE NINE FANTASIES THAT WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE (AND THE EIGHT REALITIES THAT WILL SAVE YOU). How are you doing this evening?

Joy Browne: I am a little exhausted, but excited. I am on book tour, what can I tell you.

Marie from Bergen, NJ: What was the inspiration behind the subject of the book. Why did you decide to write on this topic?

Joy Browne: Good question, Marie! Basically, what I decided is that many problems arise from believing things that aren't true. Then, over a period of a couple of months, I came up with a list of things that fell into that category. So when I started narrowing them down, the information told me that there were 9 fantasies. Then the parallel idea was identifying things that people don't believe are true. I was originally going to get 10, then 12, but again the information told me there were 9 realities, but it came out to be 8.

Susan from Vermont: Were the examples from your book taken exclusively for the book or from the show?

Joy Browne: I wrote the book first, then I went back and put in examples that illustrated the point, so all the examples are based on true stories, either in my personal life or from friends and relatives -- who were thrilled to show up in my book, as you you can only imagine.

Stefanie from San Francisco, CA: Whom would you recommend this book to? Whom did you write this book for?

Joy Browne: I wrote this book for everybody. My program really shoots for men and women, urban and suburban. I really try to shoot for things that are universal. The book is good for anybody who is interested in thinking about themselves and has a problem that recurs, and they aren't sure why. I think it is a fun read. It is for you, Stefanie, it is for you. At book signings I had it bought for Christmas presents, and daughters buy it for mothers, and sons for fathers and other examples.

Ginger from Summit, NJ: Why do you think attitude is so important? Is it important to others, or is it important to yourself?

Joy Browne: It is most important to yourself. If you wake up thinking this will be a crummy day, it will be a bad day. If you wake up saying this will be a terrific day, even with a headache, and say that you will have a good day, then you will have a good day. So attitude is everything. There is a wonderful example in the book; if you don't believe me, read the last story in the book.

JimmiRae from Boca Raton, FL: Dr. Browne, I love your show and think you are wonderful. I am a 39-year-old effeminate homosexual male. Does your new book have something to offer me as well? Thank You and Take Care of You!

Joy Browne: Thank you! Absolutely, it isn't written with respect to sexual orientation or age. It is a book for human beings. Read, enjoy, and let me know if you like it.

Tom from Ventura, CA: I have been dating my girlfriend (she is 44, I am 49), for five months. I am divorced six years, no kids, she has never been married, no kids. I want to know if you think it is appropriate for us to consider living together, given that I really care for her and she cares for me.

Joy Browne: This is covered in the book under "Soul Mates" and in DATING FOR DUMMIES. It is okay for me, if it is okay with you guys. Living together is a personal choice. I am not in favor of living together when children are involved. You should both sit and talk about what your expectations are. One chapter in the book is "Expectation Is the Death of Serenity," which covers this topic.

Joanne from Half Moon Bay, CA: Hi Joy -- I enjoyed your radio show -- are you on anywhere in the Bay Area -- I miss listening to you.

Joy Browne: Thanks Joanne. I am on KSRO in Santa Rosa. The best thing to do is call the program at 1-800-544-7070, and we can give you complete listings. You can also go to and see listings, and the good news is I will have my own TV show starting in the fall of 1999 that will be seen nationally.

Jennifer from Concord, CA: What fantasy do you think gets people in the most trouble?

Joy Browne: Jennifer, you can choose any of the nine, they all get folks in trouble. The one that gets people in the most trouble is the one that people need to be right all the time.

Nora from Chevy Chase, MD: So do you believe we don't have soul mates out there (fantasy #9)?

Joy Browne: I think believing that we have soul mates is very, very dangerous. The soul we know best is our own, and if we are looking for a soul mate we superimpose our understanding of our own behavior on some one else's behavior to make it fit, and that is dangerous.

Martha from Nashville, TN: Hello, Dr. Browne. I am a big fan, and I used to listen to the show all the time when I was living in New York City. Are there any plans for syndicating the show? Any chance you will come to Nashville?

Joy Browne: The good news is that the show is already syndicated; call your local station. I go to wherever I am invited -- invite me, pay me...

Niki from Selfishness is cool? Please elaborate...

Joy Browne: Niki, trust me, I think you will like the explanation, but it is a little long here. Basically, we all need a place to stand. Check out the book...

Nicole from Fairfield, CT: I really enjoyed your dating book. I have yet to read this book, but I can't wait. Don't we all live somewhat in a fantasy?

Joy Browne: I am not against fantasies, I am against these particular nine.

Mae from Pompano Beach, FL: Thank you for taking my question, Dr. Browne. (LOL) I was wondering if you might be coming down South Florida way to autograph your book, I'd really love that! God bless!

Joy Browne: Thank you, no plans at this moment, but who knows what the future might bring?

CJ from Ontario, Canada: We have been living together for more than three years, yet my boyfriend doesn't believe in "marriage." Do you think this will ever happen, or should I issue an ultimatum?

Joy Browne: Whether your boyfriend believes in marriage or not isn't the question. This isn't about him. At this moment it is about you. from xxx: What type of research did you do for this book?

Joy Browne: Twenty years on the radio.

Cindy from Richmond, VA: Is it true that you publish a monthly newsletter? How can I subscribe?

Joy Browne: The newsletter has been one of the true disasters of my life. I did publish a newsletter, and the publisher somehow seems to have lost vast sums of money that have never been explained. I hope to revive it one day. In the meantime, I just began writing a column in The New York Times Syndicate, so you can read it for free.

Gretchen Kass from Verona, NJ: Hello, Dr. Browne. Everything in my life is going well, but I still feel depressed all the time. I don't know why. Do you think I might need medication? How apt are you to prescribe drugs for depression? Or should I just bear through this depression in hopes of coming out of it in the near future?

Joy Browne: Absolutely not! Assuming you can pull yourself out is a misunderstanding of depression. I don't want you to spend another moment being depressed. Go out and get yourself some therapy and some medication, because the two together work better than either does separately.

Samantha from Hollywood, FL: I think my worst fantasy is meeting the perfect man -- you know, tall, dark, handsome, rich, etc. etc. Is this a notion that I should try to ditch?

Joy Browne: Ditch this fantasy -- there are no perfect people.

Kelly from Honolulu, HI: Dr. Browne, unfortunately we don't have your show out here, although a call to the radio station is in order! And we do have Dr. Laura, whom I know you are asked about often. Are you afraid this book will be seen as a copy of her books? And I'm expecting a no, so what is the difference? Why your book over hers?

Joy Browne: Our philosophies have nothing to do with each other. Our books are obviously reflective of our philosophies, so why read Shakespeare over John Donne? They are different. And I think I am heard in Hawaii, because I have gotten calls from there before.

Paul from Chicago, IL: I really enjoyed your book -- you say many valuable things in it. How do you draw the line between being selfish and cruel? I'm always afraid of hurting someone when I need time for myself, want to be alone, or want to hoard my money. Any advice?

Joy Browne: It may be that you are with the wrong person, because there is nothing wrong about being honest about what your needs are. Sounds to me that there may be a need to do a little bit of soul searching on your part, but you need what you need.

Harvey from Ft. Collins, CO: Are men and women more or less alike than commonly believed?

Joy Browne: I think men and women are very similar in many ways. We are all oxygen-breathing life forms, and anything to the contrary makes it easy for us not to do the work of interpersonal communication.

Rheanne from Culver City, CA: Who are some radio people that you enjoy listening to?

Joy Browne: I don't listen to people talk on the radio when I am by myself. When I am by myself I listen to music.

Steve from Los Angeles, CA: Dr. Browne, you're a gem! I wanted to know, what are your views on spirituality and new age? And as Maya Angelou would say, "Write on!" Thank you much.

Joy Browne: I am in favor of anything that works. Whatever works for you, I am in favor of for you.

Carl from Pennsylvania: I believe I have heard you say that you have gone to nude beaches and basically have no problem with that type of nudity. My wife and I and our two daughters are a nudist family, and I was wondering what you thought about raising kids in a nudist environment. Also, would you be willing to come and speak at a nudist convention?

Joy Browne: I am surprised you refer to yourself as a nudist, most refer to themselves as naturalists. How we raise our children when they are young changes as they get older. Young children don't know the difference and may have some troubles with naturalists as they get older.

Karla Banks from Hershey, PA: Is romance really dead? Even though I know you're probably right, why do you think that is so? Why does it seem that the male race degenerates rather than evolves?

Joy Browne: Hey, let's not bash half the world's population. I didn't say it was dead, only that it is the poison of the 20th century. We need to live with the reality of how some people should behave if you love them.

Becky Samson from Los Angeles, CA: What type of advice do you give people who can't get over old relationships who can't get on with their lives. Sadly, I'm one of those people.

Joy Browne: Becky, it sounds like you are stuck for a reason. You should look beyond the obvious and see if the loss of this love does not relate to another loss. It may be time for therapy.

Daisy from Irvine, CA: Do you prefer writing or doing your radio show?

Joy Browne: Doing my radio show. No question, writing is hard, lonely work, but it is fun to have written.

Ryan from New York: What books do you read for your inspiration, Dr. Browne. What are you currently reading, and in regard to wit and intellect, whose work does it for you?

Joy Browne: I don't tend to read for inspiration, I read for relaxation. The callers are my inspiration.

Martha from Boston, MA: What type of feedback have you gotten about this book?

Joy Browne: The book is recently out, and I am on book tour, which is fun for me, but it is just too new.

Pam Smith from Allentown, PA: My fantasy is that I will meet a decent man and raise a happy family. Is this so far-fetched? Should I settle for anything less?

Joy Browne: Stop whining. Depends where you are looking. Take yourself off of house arrest and go get this fantasy.

Dave from Massachusetts: I'm taking Prozac after being diagnosed as having a bad attitude and being depressed. Is the pill enough to deal with these problems, or is therapy in order too?

Joy Browne: Good question. Prozac will deal with some of the depression, but the therapy will help the depression. We know that both of them combined is the best.

Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Joy Browne, and best of luck with your new book. Do you have any closing comments for the online audience?

Joy Browne: Thank you all for participating and asking cool questions. I hope you enjoy the book, and I hope to know if it has changed your life for the better. Be gentle with one another.

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