Magical Thinking

"Who's there?"

Belief in magic didn’t end in the middle ages. While it’s unlikely we’ll find folks today ringing church bells to ward off evil spirits or sprinkling holy water on cows to increase their fertility, we see traces of superstition all around us.

  • A lucky rabbit’s foot, four leaf clover, and horoscope make life go better.
  • We alter reality by stepping on a crack, wishing on birthday candles, or pushing a bowling ball with body movements as it travels down the lane.
  • Baseball pitchers adjust their hat, shrug their shoulders, and gyrate prior to throwing balls; batters kick the dirt, extend their bat, and adjust their helmet before swinging.
  • If I blow on my dice I’ll roll a lucky seven.

Beyond these obvious examples, when it comes to relationships, many of us are prone to magical thinking. Have you or someone you know had these thoughts?

  • If I force my partner to love me I’ll feel loved.
  • If I act superior I will overcome my inner sense of shame.
  • If I play the victim card long enough I’ll have power.
  • If I avoid conflicts they’ll go away.
  • If I blame and shame you I’ll get what I want.
  • If I indulge my children I’ll be the perfect parent.
  • If I threaten you I’ll motivate you.
  • If I control others I’ll avoid all risk, danger, and threat.
  • I can’t unlearn the distorted thinking I learned as a kid.
  • If I engage in repetitive rituals I’ll increase my safety.
  • If I just act nicer, sexier, and more cooperative my abuser will stop abusing.
  • My sense of value depends on how others value me.
  • That person offended me on purpose!
  • He/she looked at me funny. What’s their problem?
  • If I make a mistake I am ALL BAD!
  • If I do something nice I am ALL GOOD!
  • I am impervious to consequences; others might get caught but not me.
  • If I wish for something to happen hard enough it’ll happen.
  • If I think of something bad it’ll jinx me and something bad WILL happen.
  • If I live right bad things won’t happen to me.
  • If others suffer it’s because they did something bad.

These examples, and many more, can be adjusted when discussed in a safe, accepting, and “reality testing” environment (counseling).

Think of these distorted thoughts like the Wizard of Oz, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

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