One of the biggest things I face as a therapist working in Downtown Dartmouth Nova Scotia is magical thinking. That’s right. Magical thinking. Now I’m not talking about Joan Didion’s heart-wrenching examination of grief – though I highly recommend reading it. I’m talking about the kind of magical thinking between people that seems to cause the most pain.
Examples of magical thinking:
If I simply treat people the way I want to be treated, they will respond in kind
If they love me, they’ll know how to care for me
My partner / co worker / friend / child should just know what I want because …
Are you are looking for someone who can read your mind? Do you want the people in your life to anticipate and meet your unspoken needs? I’ve got some sad news for ya: Kreskin isn’t real. It’s a trick. A trap! Sadly we humans are limited in our powers of telepathy.
As a therapist I help people get really clear and make the unspoken spoken. Want something in life – a pay raise, to be noticed by someone you care about or just to have your partner chip in more and do the dishes? You need to make requests. Requests are difficult to do. Why? When we ask something of others we make ourselves vulnerable to being rejected and hurt. Making requests is a risk with real consequences. Not making requests, however, can be equally painful. When we silently stew and hope that someone can pick up on the fact that we have needs, we are putting the responsibility for our own well being squarely on the shoulders of someone else.
Then what? Yay! Victimhood! Oh what fun!
This leads me to this week’s song – Eye in the Sky by the Alan Parsons Project. Beautiful song – haunting sound – perhaps one of the most beautiful studio songs of the early 80’s. And, a terrible fantasy. As a therapist, I don’t read minds. I take risks and make guesses about what’s going on with people. My hope is to encourage people to feel liberated to speak their truth and take more risks in the world. Ideally, people will stop waiting for this eye in the sky, take charge of their lives and find more effective ways to get their needs met.
Joe Jackson’s Steppin’ Out. This is perhaps one of my favorite tunes of all time. The lyrics and melody capture some sort of wistfulness combined with regret that I can’t fully articulate.
So, 1982, I thank you.