Friday, June 12, 2015

More on Optimism

In once again going over the sordid story of my life in the cult, I am baffled as to why "past me" remained in a group that "present me" deems so absurd. Obviously, the purpose of this blog is to address such questions, but today I found it helpful to readdress the topic of optimism.

A healthy dose of optimism has many benefits, as we all know. It encourages persistence in the face of obstacles, provides a sense of well-being, and is an antidote to worry. Optimism played a fundamental role in the formation of my personal narrative. It was the rosy glasses that I was seeing the world through in those days, filtering out the bad and only allowing in what conformed to being a happy, dedicated missionary for Jesus.

It seemed to be particularly pertinent to my relationship, as well. I hung onto that initial view of my husband as a wonderful, sacrificial, and dedicated disciple and husband. To my surprise, I came upon some research that fit my behavior to a T. Therapist Melissa Schneider summarized it as follows,

"Positive illusions are those useful cognitive biases that let you think your boyfriend or girlfriend is the greatest person in the world. Positive illusions refer to the way you see your partner and how you understand his or her actions. Since our perception of reality is never objective, we always have to fill in part of the story. When we love someone, we fill in a nicer story than when we don’t."*

Without the interference of dangerous, delusional dogmas, an optimistic outlook on a relationship can be a wonderful boon. Within the cult, and I might add, in any abusive relationships, maintaining a "positive illusion" can be very unhealthy to all parties concerned, children included.

Just as people have a disconnect from their future selves, I now have a disconnect from my past self. It has become very difficult for me to understand my irrational persistence and loyalty to a group that was clearly horrible on every level.


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