So I thought I would jump on here and talk a little bit about something that has really been bothering me lately, magical thinking. Magical thinking is a means of elevating your own status in an effort to give a higher purpose to ones life, however, from my own experience it tends to lead people down a path to depression, sickness, and alienation from reality. In this article I’d like to touch on what magical thinking is, how it is harmful, and how one can still find purpose and joy in a life free from this style of thinking.
Magical thinking takes on many form. Many religions teach that this world in which we live is really just a proving grounds for a better life in the hereafter. Christianity also has the “Name it and claim it” crowd which teaches that if someone wants something bad enough and has faith enough, then they will ultimately be granted their want. Other forms of magical thinking include belief in “the secret,” past life fantasies, believing oneself to be an “empath,” karma, synchronicity, and many, many, others.
The key aspect of all of these beliefs is that they allow a person to believe that they are more, or superior, to the others around them. Spend any amount of time in an “enlightenment” group on Facebook and you will quickly see what I am talking about. Thousands of voices speaking about how they have reached a stage in enlightenment which only they can guide others toward. One of the funniest things you will find is that the majority of these “enlightened masters,” will claim that one must remove all aspects of ego from your life in order to reach this state, however, what could be more egotistical than to claim that you are an enlightened master?
So why do people fall for these beliefs? As stated above, it allows a person to believe they are more than the average man or woman, and in this way they feel special. If you haven’t noticed, life can suck at times. It is in those times that we feel the worst that we are most susceptible to magical thinking. My personal conversion to Christianity came at a point when I thought that life couldn’t possibly get any worse. I could try to make my way through life or I could become a “child of god” and gain a heavenly home for myself free from all care and worry when my life ends. Simply put, it feels great to delude yourself, at least for a time, and so many are drawn into this type of thinking.
The problem in this lies with the fact that delusion can only stand if you continue feeding it. Over time, these delusions will grow and what once seemed ridiculous will now be accepted as truth. To bring my personal story back into this, my own faith grew from Christian, to minister, to healer, to prophet, to my ultimate downfall and the crushing reality of all the time wasted on these harmful ideals. Now some might say, what harm is there in allowing folks to believe whatever they want to believe?
The harm comes from the futility of these beliefs and how fragile they actually are. Many will claim that god or a force in the universe is all-powerful, can do anything, and all we have to do is remove every aspect of our humanity in order to reap the benefits of this god or universal force. When one fails to receive these gifts, it is seen as due to a lack of faith, bad karma, or that you have been too judgmental and not accepting enough of the universal will. What these feelings ultimately lead to is depression and the one thing which will pull any delusional person out of a depression is a deeper and more fantastical delusion.
In my short time in this world I have met numerous people who believe themselves to be aliens, claim to communicate with rocks, pray to unicorns, claim they can kill me with a hex, angrily condemn me for not being open to the idea of a flat earth, alien seeding, or that all the governments of the world are working together to destroy our ability to ascend to a higher plane of existence. What I have found within the depths of these beliefs is a deep sadness, a longing to find purpose where no purpose is found, a need to hide the scars of their past, and an anger for the life that they find themselves in. Find me an “enlightened master” and I will show you a human that has grasped at life for so long and felt so alienated by the world that they believed they had no choice but to delve deeply into a comforting delusion.
There is good news, though maybe not as good as some would hope. Taking off the mask of delusion that you built up for so long is not a pretty process. It involves pain, heartache, and many setbacks. Over time though you will find that life is a wondrous place filled with joys and experiences to fill a thousand lifetimes. Life will also suck at times, you’ll go through rough times and it will be up to you to bring yourself back out of it, but it is possible.
In the last several years since my deconversion, I have gone through some very rough patches. I’ve experienced depression, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and all sorts of calamities, yet I’m still here. I enjoy life and have found other ways to deal with life issues when they hit. No longer do I turn to magical thinking and a belief in something greater that will rescue me from my life, it’s all up to me now and I am doing it.
We all want to feel special and that life has some purpose yet the truth is, we are all organic matter. We are born, we live, we pass on our genes, and then we die. In order to live life to the fullest we all must find ways to add purpose and this is our greatest strength. God didn’t cure polio, a man did. The universe didn’t invent the pacemaker, we did. Literature doesn’t write itself, men and women do. Mountains are climbed, great leaps in technology and medicine are made, the chains of slavery have been broken, women attained rights, and humanity is the central character in all of these. We’ve driven animals to extinction and brought species back from the brink of that same fate. Life is what we make of it and so far humanity has done a pretty damn good job.
For thousands of years, a simple case of the stomach flu would almost surely mean death. God, the universe, and karma were completely powerless to stop the ravages that plague committed with mankind and yet we stopped it. We worked towards a goal and now the flu generally means a couple of missed days at work, some medicine, and plenty of fluids. We live in a wonderful time that our ancestors would have seen as completely magical, yet reality brought us to where we are and reality is what will take us into the future.