Magical Thinking Child

The magical thinking child believes in fairy tales and is often closely allied with the romantic within. This child can also give power to magical thinking in negative terms - such as, I am really happy but if I tell anyone I am happy it will be taken away. Or as I talk about in my article The story of Joy to You & Me - I thought on some level that if I washed my car it would break down. This is not the thinking of an adult - yet many adults, if they would look underneath some of their reactions and attitudes, would find the magical thinking child behind them.

The following is an example of setting a boundary with the magical thinking child. This example came up last year when I was answering an e-mail from someone who wanted to know "how to" set boundaries with inner children - that is, what it looks like, the ABC's of the process.

"There are several facets to setting boundaries with our inner children. One is that we need to gently explain to the magical thinking child within that Fairy Tales do not come true - that is we are not going to get to happily ever-after in this lifetime on this plane. We may meet our prince or princess - but they are going to be wounded souls who need to work on their issues also. . . . . .

I just took a break from writing this to go to the post office to mail a book and tape set to England - and as I was walking to the post office a perfect example of what I am talking about occurred within me. (This is the kind of miracles that I get on a daily basis - "the ask and ye shall receive" kind - I am thinking of the best way to answer and by paying attention I was given an example.)

As I was writing this response to your questions, I got a hit/idea/inspiration that I should post a web page with the questions that I get by e-mail and answers I send back. As you mention, it can really help sometimes to be concrete and explicit. So, as I am walking to the post office I am thinking about doing such a web page and the following interaction takes place within me (in my inner reality these are fleeting thoughts rather than a formal conversation.)

ego/critical parent: 'Your giving away all of this information for free and meanwhile you can't even pay your rent. That is pretty stupid.'

Romantic (believes in fairy tales) inner child: 'Oh, but we're going to be rewarded. All kinds of good things are going to happen - including getting a lot of money.'

Adult on Spiritual Path: 'Now, settle down you two. In the first place, it is very important and wonderful to give away what I have been given - that is how to keep the energy flowing - and that is what works, it is what I need to do for me/us. And I am going to do it because it feels good, it feels right - like the next thing in front of me to do. We'll worry about the rent when it is time to pay the rent - for today, for this moment, we will do what feels right for today. And I need to tell you, that our reward may just be to feel good about what we're doing - and if that is all there is, that is still a wonderful gift. On top of that we are getting positive feedback from all over - and that is a great bonus. There may never be a lot of money but that is not important. There is enough money for today. And we are very blessed to have something to do today that is fulfilling and makes us happy.'

So, I set a boundary with the critical parent by not buying into the criticism, I set a boundary with my inner child by not building up expectations of some kind of reward, and I remind myself to focus on the half of the glass that is full (my needs that have been met) and be grateful for the gifts I have been given - not the half that is empty (my wants that have not been met.)

I have peace and serenity when I can accept reality as it is and focus on what action I can take to change what needs to be changed. That means I need to accept that I can be happy and fulfilled even if I never have any money, never get any more of my books published, never have another romantic relationship, etc. I need to let go of my picture of how I want things to be and focus on what action I can take today that:

1. feels good/right;

2. that feels like a kind thing to do for myself (could be doing the dishes or cleaning house - inner children rarely want to do house work - of course if house work is one of your coping mechanisms then for you doing something frivolous and silly might be in order);

3. that is about planting some seeds (going to the library to get a book, posting a new web page, checking for local 12 step meetings, etc.) that maybe will help to meet my wants.

The Truth of the reward thing is that I have no way of knowing if I am creating "good" (feels like reward when it comes back) Karma or settling old "bad" (feels like punishment) Karma - so I cannot know what is coming, I just know that I believe it is all going to be all right in the end and I will get to go home when I am through with this often very painful boarding school.

There is always going to be more work, more healing to do - but the magical thinking child wants to believe in magical fairy tales (we're going to win the lottery) - this does not in any way preclude believing in magical miracles. We need to know that there are miracles and magic so we can be open to them (we could win the lottery) but not just sit around expecting (planning on eating on your lottery winnings tomorrow is not a good strategy) them to rescue us and takes us to happily ever after. We need to take some action/do our part (buy a ticket - just one - and though this can be applied literally to the lottery I am really using it here figuratively speaking) - we are co-creators here. And even if we win the lottery it is just going to present us with some more lessons - not bring us happily ever after." - Question & Answer page 1 from Joy to You & Me Web Site

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