The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.
Late last October I landed in the hospital for a couple of days with A-Fib + fluid on the lungs + congestive heart failure thrown in for good measure. Ask my friends and they’ll tell you that when I do something big, I go all out!
My friends might also tell you that I’m thick-headed – and I won’t argue with them (for a host of reasons). Here’s the thing. . .
I had not been feeling well for quite some time (am embarrassed to say how long was “quite some time”). I was aware that something was “off” BUT I continually came up with myriad reasons for why there was absolutely no need for me to see a doctor.
Looking back, I realize I engaged in what can only be called “magical thinking.”
When I became increasingly short of breath, I thought, “Gotta get back to the gym.” Racing heartbeat? “I should eat better and get to bed earlier.” Go to the doctor? “Why make something out of nothing? (In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t go to medical school and so I’m not qualified to make a diagnosis of “it’s nothing.”)
I told no one. I asked no one for advice or help. When I finally told friends the saga, they were uniformly annoyed (to put it mildly) I hadn’t reached out.
So, here it is a new year. I’m fine (really) BUT I am chastened as I feel “a bit” like a hypocrite. This is a blog focused on Confidence and Communication and Relationships. And here I was – arrogant and silent and self-sufficient!
As I’ve written here many times – old habits die hard!
In reflecting on my experience I’m amazed at the sheer force of my “magical thinking.” At a deep level I knew I was sick. I knew I should see a doctor. Yet, I chose to ignore the symptoms and declared that my gut was wrong – that all those symptoms were “nothing.”
I lied to myself. And my lie almost killed me.
Why did I engage in Magical Thinking?
There were several reasons and they can all be reduced to one word – FEAR.
I was afraid of what might be causing those symptoms and it was easier (in some respects) to make reality conform to how I wanted it to be.
Crazy? Oh, yeah!
I also know, though, that I’m not the only person who practices Magical Thinking.
My client Clint (name changed) has a boss who is toxic and has caused him untold stress. Clint knows he needs to make some significant decisions about his job but has convinced himself that the situation is “not that bad.” When I ask him why he has high blood pressure if the situation is not that bad he just smiles. Clint’s situation at work is bad – and much worse – based on the stories he’s told me.
In the face of having to make decisions we don’t want to deal with we can come up with an array of magical phrases to transform the issue into “nothing.” Phrases such as, “It’s really not that bad.” “It’s really getting better.” Sure, it’s bad, but it’s not affecting me.” “I can compartmentilize, so I don’t bring any of it home.” “Others have it so much worse, I can’t complain.”
As we set out on this new year, I encourage, challenge YOU to consider:
Is there any part of your life where you engage in Magical thinking?
In your gut do you know some truth about your job – your career – your self – your relationships – and you are choosing to ignore that truth and to label the situation, the problem as “nothing”?
I don’t want to get corny or glib. I do, though, want to suggest that if you’re looking for a healthy New Year’s resolution, then consider making 2019 a year free of Magical Thinking.
A year of honoring what you know is the truth and acting on behalf of that truth.
Here’s to a healthy 2019!
Want help breaking through YOUR patterns of Magical Thinking?
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