Putting the Brakes on Magical Thinking

     Happy New Year! I hope the holidays were kind to you. This year
Grandgirls ready the Santa Bucks.
our family tried something different, a Santa Auction. Each of the 34 participants (we have a big family!) brought a gift which they then had to "sell" to the group. Each bidder had about $200 in over-sized Santa Bucks. We were nervous about trying something new, but, happily, it was a big rowdy success! It was hilarious watching as family members pooled money and bid hundreds of "bucks" on the item of their dreams! A basket of Almond Roca and a Starbucks card easily going for hundreds!! My daughter and I were proud that it was a hit, as we had ventured out of our comfortable old White Elephant tradition to try something new.

     With the New Year, maybe this is a good time for you to try something out of your comfort zone. Maybe set a new goal. I found my 2016 goals list last week and was pleased to see that I accomplished all of them. I've been trying to work less and play more. For years I have written "more balance in my life." Woo hoo I made it!! What do you want to do?

     One "comfort zone" that many people fall into is the zone of Magical Thinking. It is easy to unconsciously slip into it and it can 
"Magical Thinking"
be an unpleasant place to go. In Loss group last week the discussion centered around the disappointing fact that for some, extended family members such as grandchildren or siblings do not pay as much attention to us as we imagine they "should." This disappointment can easily fester into hurt feelings, to irritation, to anger, to withdrawal, leading to unhappiness.

     Magical Thinking is fantasy thinking. It is the mental "chatter" that
Cousins Enjoying the Auction
goes on inside our heads, the dreamy stuff of reverie. There's nothing wrong with a bit of it, but it can become mixed up with reality and affect a person's expectations. Relationships are fertile grounds for it. All we have to do is listen to a song, turn on a TV sitcom, or watch a romantic film and fantasy is delivered right to us, happily ever-afters and all! Magical thinking can contaminate our thoughts so that they are not grounded in reality. This thinking can become toxic if it affects our sense of what we can realistically expect from others. Here are some common fantasies:
"I'll get as much as I give."
"Relationships are 50-50."
"Love conquers all."
"Every problem has a solution." 
"If I love them enough, they will change."
"They will love me back the same as I give."
"There's only one true soul mate for me."
"If I am agreeable there will be no conflict."

     If we can recognize some of this fantasy thinking we can label it and put a stop to it. We can become more realistic in what we
Donna and her Mom
expect. The harsh reality is that our loved ones lead very full lives. Our siblings might be working, raising families, worrying about money, dealing with health issues, while our children and grandchildren are struggling with their own concerns with lives more jam-packed than we can imagine. I know that my grandchildren work to maintain high grades, participate in Greek life, compete in sports, maintain friendships and romances, and work hard at earning money, as they hone skills for their future. They are thinking forward. It is important to for us to remember that they have a lot going on and not let our feelings get hurt if they don't always have as much time for us as we'd like; and to understand that it does not lessen how much they care for us. I hope you are taking very good care of yourself. I always love to hear from you.
My best, donna

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