Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do You Believe in Magic?

As I promised in the last post, I am addressing the second type of irrational "should".  Sometimes shoulds imply a belief in magic. Yeah, I know, when I first saw this I thought, "Really? I would never do that! I don't believe in magic! That is just ridiculous! This shouldn't even be taught!"  But then I listened and realized I had just made the mistake of using "should" to imply a belief in magic.

I have in my office a little white coffee maker. Now, suppose I take the coffee pot, fill it with water, pour the water in the coffee maker's reservoir, pull out the basket, insert a filter, put in some coffee grounds, push the basket back in, put the pot underneath the basket, push the on button and make sure everything is plugged in. I SHOULD get coffee, right?

Okay, suppose I do all of the above and yet forget to put the the coffee grounds in the filter. If I say I SHOULD get coffee, I would be wrong. If I get angry or verbally beat myself because I didn't get coffee, that would be silly! In fact, I SHOULD just get hot water, because I left out the key ingredient to the coffee!

So many times we upset ourselves with our magical shoulds. "Men should never hit women" is a common should that makes sense until we unpack it. Men should never hit women, but if the ingredients are all there (the presence of a man, the presence of a woman, close proximity, some object or body part to be used as a striker, the appropriate amount of emotional stimulation, the appropriate of force applied to the striker, for example), chances are the man will hit the woman. Now, if the woman who has just been hit states that she did everything to avoid getting hit, and yet magically it happened, she is not facing reality. She is not likely to look at the situation as it is, figure out why this happened, and do everything to avoid this in future. She is likely to get struck again. If she said, "I really wish that hadn't happened. I wonder what I could have done differently to avoid that situation," she is more likely to figure out what ingredients stacked up in order to make that happen and to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Everything is as it should be, because all ingredients have been added in order for life to be as it is. To Instead of stopping at the should, make an "I wish" statement and then look for the ingredients you can change in order to prevent the undesired situation from happening again.

For more on this topic, read Aldo Pucci's The Client's Guide to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.


  1. Thank you for another fantastic posting. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing and I was looking for more info.

  2. You can find more information in Dr. Aldo Pucci's book, Feel the Way You Want to Feel, No Matter What! There is a link to the book on in the previous post, "Stop "Shoulding" on Yourself".