Beware the Blanket

Imagine a person who really, really hates Thursdays. They think they’re terrible and want everyone else to believe it, too. In their ideal world, the week would have six days.

Now imagine that this person trips and breaks their arm on a Thursday. What do you think will be the first thing they blame? The loose carpet? The fact that they were distracted by an important phone call? The badly-placed bike rack that broke their fall?

Or the fact that it was Thursday?

No situation has a single cause. Surrounding every event is a swarm of causes, many of which interacted in exact ways to produce the event in question and many of which had (and this is the tricky part) no impact whatsoever.

This is a nuanced (read: unpopular) view, but it’s the truth. When something bad happens, you can’t pick the thing you already hate and declare that the only and ultimate cause, ignoring all other factors. Even if the thing you hate was a factor at all (and there’s no guarantee of that), it absolutely wasn’t the only factor.

If we want to reduce bad things, we have to make it about the bad things, not the factor we just hate for whatever reason. This is, for many people, super-duper hard. I get that you want to believe that every bad thing was caused by the singular factor you don’t like. But it wasn’t. And your life will be better when you get out from under that blanket.

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