All dogs have four legs. Snoopy is a dog. Snoopy has four legs. This is an example of logical thinking. One plus one equals two. This is an example of linear thinking. Because I am lactose intolerant, the last fifty times I ate ice cream I got sick but the next time I eat ice cream I won’t simply because I want a different result. This is an example of magical thinking, which is the type of thinking you engage in whenever you fail to use historical data to predict future outcomes and results.
Since magical thinking, unlike the other two types of thinking, will cause you to continue making the same mistakes over and over again, it is important that you recognize the degree to which you are prone to think this way.
Here is a simple quiz to help you assess your proclivity for magical thinking. Carefully read each of the following questions and answer yes or no.
Question One: Prior to their marriage Tom lost his temper and physically assaulted Tina on several occasions. During their marriage Tom lost his temper and physically assaulted Tina and their children on several occasions. If the opportunity presents itself, do you think that now that they are separated Tom will refrain from assaulting Tina or the children?
Question Two: Bill lied to Betty constantly throughout the marriage. Bill lied about graduating from grad school when in fact he never graduated from college. Bill lied about being an only child when in fact he has three other siblings. Bill lied about being downsized from his job when in fact he was fired for showing up late. Do you think Bill is telling Betty the truth when he insists he has changed and wants to reconcile?
Question Three: Jack and Jill’s marriage broke down because Jack would not work regularly. And when Jack was working he used his money to finance hobbies that he could not afford. Do you think that now that they are separated Jill can count on Jack to make regular spousal support payments?
Question Four: Throughout their marriage Will never helped Wanda take care of the children. He refused to help with their homework or transport them to any of their after-school activities. Will told Wanda on more than one occasion that having kids was her idea and therefore she should be responsible for taking care of them. Do you think that now that they are separated Will is going work with Wanda in co-parenting the kids?
Question Five: During his marriage, Sam never reported his actual income to the IRS. He would work odd jobs and insist on being paid cash. Sam would claim deductions that he was not entitled to and he went so far as to claim his mother as a dependent although she only actually lived with him a few months each year. Do you think Sam is going to pay child support based on his actual earnings?
Here’s how to score your responses:
One or more “Yes” responses is a clear indication that you engage in some degree of magical thinking. But that doesn’t mean you have to continue thinking this way. The first step in changing the way you think is to acknowledge the problem. You can do this by reflecting on situations in your marriage in which engaging in magical thinking led to unwanted results or consequences. And as you move forward, after your divorce, commit to learning from your mistakes and correcting the flaws in your thinking.
This is an excerpt from What to Divorce When You are Divorcing. Download a copy below:
What to Divorce When You are Divorcing
Photo Credit: Visual Hunt