Wishful Thinking: Seeing What You Want to See

Wishful Thinking: Seeing What You Want to See

Last update: 18 August, 2020

We’re constantly making decisions about work and relationships, but do you think that they’re all rational and logical? Sometimes, we don’t realize that our own wishful thinking has a lot of influence over our decisions.

“We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”

-Ayn Rand-

When you desire something, like achieving a goal or buying that house you saw and couldn’t get out of your mind, you send a signal to your brain that indicates you’re missing something. Every decision you make from then on will be influenced by this desire.

So what happens to reality? It transforms into what you want it to be and causes you think everything is going your way. It isn’t difficult to see how many problems this can cause, not only in relationships, but also at work. Reality is what it is, and as much as you want to see it through other eyes, it’s not going to change.

Thought becomes a slave to desire

It might seem extreme, but thought becomes a slave to the desires of the mind, especially if it’s a really big desire. When this happens, as rational as you think you are in the moment you make the decision, that’s not how it is. You no longer see reality as it is; you see what you want to see.

Wishful thinking is based on illusion and fantasy. As such, it doesn’t matter what’s really happening. If you’re going down the wrong path, if people aren’t treating you well, if you’re making mistakes, you can’t see any of it because you’re visualizing a different world, one that you imagine and make real in your mind.

hands on flowers

Despite the fact that wishful thinking can be a form of motivation, it can also become a way to avoid a situation that you don’t like. For example, imagine you’re in a relationship where everything is going badly. You want everything to be like it was before, when everything was better. In your mind, you remember the times when happiness reigned. You bring these memories to the present and imagine that this is how the relationship is going now.

Reality can be very painful, and for that reason, we unconsciously try to run away.

You’re living in a fantasy world without meaning to and without being aware that you’re closing your eyes to what’s happening. So, you pretend. You end up focusing on yourself, your own desires, and you end up forgetting about others. This causes serious problems.

The traps of wishful thinking

You have to realize that wishful thinking never comes from reality; it comes from what you want to happen. But being realistic is necessary to avoid falling for certain traps that can cause serious problems in your life. The following are a few examples:

  • You focus on the goal and not on the process. This prevents you from seeing the mistakes you’re making, what you’re doing wrong, and if you don’t remedy this, it won’t end well. The thing you desired so much can work against you.
  • You don’t confirm whether what you want is feasible. When you have a goal or a dream, the first thing you have to do is verify whether it’s doable so that your effort is not in vain and you avoid disappointment. Wishful thinking prevents you from making this evaluation and allows you to dedicate resources to goals that are beyond your reach.
  • You get frustrated and disappointed. Wishful thinking causes you to live in a fantasy world. This means that, when you have to stick to reality, you get frustrated and disappointed. However, if your desire is strong enough, you will prolong the situation that’s gradually wearing you down.

Sooner or later, reality will show itself, which will be much more cruel and much more bitter.

If you live in this fantasy world for too long, the time will come when you won’t know how to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. There will be moments in your interpersonal relationships when others will try to open your eyes. Reality will slap you in the face and make you sad, and you won’t go back to that fantasy to feel better.

You’ll find yourself in the real world, which you can’t escape from no matter how much you want to. If you don’t open your eyes, other people and situations will do it for you. But it’s better for you to open them for yourself, if you don’t want to be torn apart by the dream you’ve been buried in for so long, a lie that you believed was real.

Wishful thinking is very comfortableYou like it; it’s right where you want to be. But it also turns you into a coward who runs away from reality and everything you don’t want to accept.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.