Some weeks ago, I tuned into an NPR radio interview with Penn and Teller, those amazing magicians/entertainers who have for decades defied logic and fooled us with their brilliant illusions.
What caught my interest was the oddity of the interview. The dynamic duo of Penn and Teller were being interviewed separately. This intrigued me as I wondered how NPR would handle empty radio air space if the usually silent Raymond Teller continued to be mute.
Luckily, he did not. And among the thought provoking things he had to say was this, “Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself.” Of course, he was talking about magic. But I was thinking about denial. It never occurred to me before that moment that magic has so much in common with denial. The point of intersection is simple-We WANT to believe.
We know when something is “off”; maybe we can’t see it, but we feel it. And we ignore that feeling; we do this when watching a magic show as the illusion entertains us. We collude with the magicians on stage. We want to be fooled. Just for a while we want to believe in magic! We know the woman is not being sawed in half and then put back together, yet we “ooh” and “ahh” and watch transfixed as the illusion unfolds. We suspend reality and believe in what we are “told” to see.
Outside of the magician’s theater, we may find ourselves yearning for a little touch of magic in our own lives, so we collude with those “magicians” that surround us. Sometimes, the magician is not another person, but rather a voice inside that yearns to keep us from dealing with tough truths by creating illusion. “I can afford these shoes”, “This drink doesn’t matter”, “He didn’t mean it”, “That funky growth is just a freckle”, are just a few of the illusions we create to reassure ourselves. Denial, like magic, makes us feel as if anything is possible. However, unlike the magician’s tricks, tricking ourselves is not always harmless.
We were raised on fairy tales and fantasy. As Halloween approaches, we see the joy in children who dress up like super heroes and princesses and we may reminisce about our own childhood when we believed all things were possible. Magic wands, magic slippers, magic powers and magic potions were familiar to us long before we knew that domestic violence, substance abuse, illness and heartbreak existed. Even adults are scared of the unknown and long for a happy ending; so we try to deny that which we know to be true.
Allow yourself to believe-not in the power of magic, but in the power of yourself. It is by following your truth rather than denying it, that you can find those things that are more effective than magic-courage and resilience.
© 2015 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986. She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.