“You Knew This Would Happen”, And Other Jerkbrain Lies

This is one of those things that I write down in my blog because I’m not sure where else to put it. In the hopes that I will remember.

When I’m starting a relationship, any relationship, I often worry about the things that might go wrong. If it’s a casual relationship, I may be nervous that I will end up with inappropriately serious feelings. If I’m attracted to someone in a way I haven’t experienced before, I may be worried that it won’t line up with the ways they want to be found attractive. If I want to spend a lot of time with someone, I may be worried it will overwhelm them. If I want to spend a limited amount of time with someone, I may be worried that it will be too little.

Sometimes the things that I worry about come to pass, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, I can generally be relied on to blame myself when they do come to pass.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? You KNEW this would happen!”

Then I blame myself for whatever negative consequences resulted from the initial decision, particularly any negative consequences to the other person involved. Because I should have known. Because I “did know”.

But, of course, I didn’t. I only saw the possibility.

A while back, I hooked up with a friend of mine, and was nervous that a relationship intended to be casual would become inappropriately serious in my head. However, when I decided to go ahead anyway, when I actually ran the experiment, I found exactly the opposite. I found that more than any other casual thing I had ever done, this one felt like it perfectly, naturally fit into a casual space in my head.

If that hadn’t been the case – if I had found myself feeling uncomfortably serious about the whole thing — I would have blamed myself for that going wrong. I would have told myself that I knew that that was going to happen, and that therefore I shouldn’t have let anything happen in the first place.

And, as the experience showed, I would’ve been dead wrong. As more than one of my recent experiences have shown, sometimes the things I worry about don’t happen. Sometimes they don’t even come close to happening. The part of my brain dedicated to shrieking, “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN!!” is completely and utterly wrong. Now, finally, I have some blatant, about-as-close-to-irrefutable-as-possible counterexamples from my own personal experience, and I intend to remember them the next time my brain pulls this bullshit.

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2 comments on ““You Knew This Would Happen”, And Other Jerkbrain Lies

  1. I think that something that can happen with this is also that we envision *lots* of possible things that could go wrong. If one of those many options comes to pass, it becomes pretty easy to immediately forget all of those other possibilities. But it’s the one that makes us “right” that sticks out in memory. I think this exacerbates the whole, “You knew this would happen!” phenomenon that much more.

    (Incidentally, I think something similar happens with the notion of gut feelings and intuition. We promptly forget all the times that we had a gut feeling that didn’t mean anything, but the times that gut feeling and actual events are in line, we immediately go to, “ZOMG I KNEW IT I HAD A FEELING”)

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