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The Trap of
Wishful Thinking

Suzan Bond

Wishful thinking is a little-known but important trap to be careful of in decision making. Let me tell you about my client Tom who illustrates this trap. When making decisions, he tended to use more traditional ways, focusing on analytical methods. He wasnít sure if intuition should play a role when making important decisions. He couldnít tell the difference between intuition and when it was something else. And frankly, he didnít trust his intuition all that much. The problem was that he needed to expand the methods he used to make decisions.

We discovered that he had run into one of the obstacles to intuition: wishful thinking. It turns out that many decisions he thought were intuitive were actually wishful thinking. These decisions included smaller everyday decisions as well as larger ones like making a big career change. Clearly, he needed to learn more about how wishful thinking was interfering with his ability to make strong decisions using his intuition.

Wishful thinking is when you want something so bad that you force it to happen.  Bypassing your intuition, you convince yourself that a situation is right, forcing it to work. This type of thinking is so common that most of you have probably experienced at some point in your life. So how do you know itís your intuition and when itís wishful thinking? One of the biggest ways you can tell itís your intuition is when youíre unattached or neutral about something. While your intuition may guide you to do something that your rational mind would find silly, it will communicate it in a very neutral way.

How do you know if youíve fallen into the well of wishful thinking?

When you really want something, itís essential to stay as neutral as possible in order to tell the difference between your intuition and something else like wishful thinking. Staying neutral is probably one of the toughest things for us to do as humans with desires and wants. It is possible. It will take some practice. Start by simply noticing how attached you are to the outcome of a decision.

The more attached you are, the more likely you are to get caught in wishful thinking. If the message of your intuition doesnít sound neutral, you canít be sure that it truly is your intuition. It might be wishful thinking hiding behind the mask of intuition. Keep paying attention and the messages of your intuition will become clearer.

Suzan Bond, MA, MSW, CPCC,.  You may contact Suzan at suzan[at] or by phone at 312.654.8569.

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