Change – How to Survive Tip 6

Are you a Magical Thinker?

Actually, you probably are; we all do it to an extent! But we tend to do it most when change is on the cards, a change or period of uncertainty over which we have no control.

What is Magical Thinking?

I first learned of the term magical thinking when working with young children undergoing trauma in their lives.  At one stage, it was received wisdom that children shouldn’t be told what was happening if it was considered bad or negative.

This proved to be singularly unhelpful to children and their chances in later life, as they then resorted to magical thinking. They filled the gaps in their knowledge with stories of their own.

And invariably these stories (magical thinking) made the children themselves somehow responsible for what was happening. In the absence of information sensitively and appropriately given they imagined the worse and even made themselves culpable.

Adults Use Magic Too…

When I went on to work with adults experiencing change and periods of uncertainty I realised that we all do it. In the absence of concrete, trustworthy information we make sense of the bits we do have by stringing together a story, usually with ourselves being worse off in some way. (see tip 5) And these stories can get passed around an organisation and come to be accepted as a universal truth.

If there is a gap in your knowledge of any impending change, beware of your magical thinking tendencies and try and get some straightforward information. Check out your sources! There’s no point in worrying unnecessarily!

For details of my next change seminar please click here. And if you have some examples of magical thinking in your organisation, please do share with us!

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Posted on July 28th, 2010 by

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