It was August 2, 1974 when I learned to hide my wishes. Staring at a chocolate cake with five birthday candles on it, I heard my mom say, "Make a wish." With thoughts of a puppy filling my head, my mouth opened to share the news. However, I was struck silent by the screeching sound of my mother's voice yelling, "Don't share it! If you share your wish, it won't come true."
I was shocked and confused. My parents were the ones I needed on board to get a puppy. How would they know I wanted one if I didn't share it with them? But, being a good boy, I did as I was told and I kept that wish to myself. No puppy arrived.
This was the first time I learned that simple, yet pervasive idea that we are not supposed to share our wishes. Instead, we are to keep them a secret. This same message emerged time and again, over shooting stars, seeing 11:11 on the clock, or finding a four-leaf clover. "Don't share your wishes or they won't come true."
Fortunately I have evolved into a more critical consumer of conventional wisdom. As a clinical psychologist, I know the importance of communication and expressing our needs. In fact, much of the distress I see in my clients comes from fears of sharing desires, needs and, yes, wishes.
As social mammals, how are we supposed to maximize the likelihood of fulfilling our wishes, if we don't share them? It's not logical.