Thursday, November 6, 2014

Optimism bias

Of all the biases, this one I consider as virtually a personality characteristic of mine. I was the image of optimism and wishful thinking. In the cult, this could be mistaken for "faith."

For example, when we would hear of abuse of power, even child abuse, by other members of the COG (which by now had changed its name to The Family of Love, soon to be The Family International, by which name its remnants are known today), I would rationalize that the perpetrators were just bad people and not representative of any of the people I had ever met in the group. Bad things may be happening, but they weren't happening around me. People who were not true to the foundation of God's word were doing those things. The foundation was incontrovertibly good. (Oh, how loud the denial!)

I guess I was conveniently forgetting the verse, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

Besides, as I had framed in my internal narrative, I was smart enough to be sure that abuse wouldn't happen to my kids. I would stay true to God's word and will. By staying true, I would magically protect my children by being blessed by God. After all, it is a just world, and we only reap what we sow. 

Similarly, although my marriage was obviously flawed from day one, I wishfully thought that our situation would improve. My husband would come to love me. He would return to the romantic and kind man that I saw him (or imagined him) to be for the first few weeks we were together. I would make excuses for his angry behavior and harshness to the children. For years I did this, but eventually, even my constant giving the benefit of the doubt gave up. 

It took me ages to finally realize the truth about my marriage and the fantasy narrative that I had constructed for it and so desperately wanted to believe.  

How sad for my children.

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