Calling Myself Out on my BS

I’m back from Norway, pretty fresh and energized! Here’s a picture from a beautiful hike in Lofoten (which admittedly triggered my fear of heights – that narrow Stegosaurus back looking mountain behind me was the path. And yes it was steep as hell. And yes, the sky was dark like that most of the time, and it was pretty cold – but I like it this way:)

🤔 What I’ve been thinking about

I have to call myself out on my own bullsh*t more. Yep.

I’m a pro at something that the Germans call “Schwarzmalen”, which literally means “painting black” – always focusing on the downsides, the risks, what could go wrong and what is bad.
I’m way too pessimistic. That’s a truth, and I now have proof for it (and of course there are countless other pieces of evidence throughout my past):

Three weeks ago, I wrote about our trip to Norway and how we wouldn’t be able to travel due to sudden changes in Corona restrictions. I wasn’t trying to be dramatic, I genuinely thought we’d have to cancel our plans to go to Lofoten Islands and stay in quarantine for 10 days, because that’s what the official websites said.

Well, here’s what actually happened: Nobody cared, nobody checked us and asked where we’re from, and we were able to take our trip without any complications. I mean, it did rain quite a lot, but we found an affordable car that we rented for a few days which made everything easier. And if you think we’re assholes for travelling, I get it, but we really kept far far away from people, as usual.

So, basically, all my predictions and fears were incorrect.
Ridiculously incorrect, in fact.
In my mind, the most likely scenario looked something like this: We’d be detained by an angry police force upon arrival (they’d be waiting for us already). They would put us in a white hazmat suit and transport us to a remote place in the woods (they’d call it detention center but it’d be pretty much a prison). “Why did you even come?” is what the disappointed prison guard would have said, tightening my handcuffs and giving me only rotten fish to eat (they love that stuff over there). They’d press charges against me, and of course I would actually get sick from other inmates and die miserably in my cell, alone.

Ok that was maybe one of the more dramatic scenarios in my head. 
But nonetheless: None of this happened.

Instead of just brushing this obvious pessimism bias off like “Oh well, I guess I was lucky this time” and forgetting about it, I want to highlight my stupidity and make this public announcement: I’m terrible at making predictions.
I’m way too pessimistic.
And I’m even inclined to add: My thoughts are almost all dumb and wrong.

I think we should accept this as a general rule of thumb about us humans. We’re the best animals on this earth when it comes to thinking (that I know of). But we’re also the animal that thinks the most wrong thoughts, in absolute terms. We’re incredibly bad at understanding things accurately, especially when it comes to dangers and our self-perception.

If you say that’s nonsense, read Daniel Kahnemann’sThinking, Fast and Slow and learn about the cognitive biases we fall victim to. Basically, we’re slightly evolved monkeys who are comedically bad at estimating odds and making decisions.

The sneaky thing about our own thoughts is that it’s hard to recognize their inaccuary. There’s rarely a black and white “correct” or “incorrect” answer to complex problems. Also, there are too many thoughts whirling around in our heads at all times, as most of the thinking happens automatically. It would be easier if we had a written record of our thoughts, so we could call ourselves out on our bullsh*t (maybe that’ll be possible with Neuralink, who knows).

The main problem, and that’s the point of this rant, I guess, is that I don’t call myself out on how wrong my thoughts and predictions were, ex post. It’s rare that I look back and admit “Wow, I was really pessimistic … and everything turned out ok. I should learn from this and tweak my outlook on life!”

I should do that more often. And YOU should probably do that more often, as well, unless you’re already the perfect enlightened being. It’s easier if you have friends or a partner who can help you with that (don’t always dismiss what they say, they’re often on to something when they say you’re acting crazy).

The alternative is continuing this cycle of worrying, ruminating and being VERY wrong about what will happen. What’s that saying again that we’ve probably all heard by now … “Insanity is doing the same things again and again and expecting different results.” Well, I’m pretty insane then.

If I could reprogram my brain, I would make it so that I a) think less thoughts (around 95% less would be nice), b) think more positive thoughts (at least one positive for every negative thought), and c) be more aware of my cognitive biases and learn from them.

Unfortunately, we don’t really understand our brains and much less know how to reprogram them. So I’ll stick to my resolution to become more aware of my “thinking machine” when it works with full force and slow it down instead of fueling it with more frenetic thoughts. And call myself out more often on my dumb bullsh*t thoughts and predictions.

😴 What might help you find calm

Intentional ASMR Picks:

Here’s some intentional ASMR I’ve enjoyed this past week:

  • As expected, Latte made a perfect Men’s Barber Shop roleplay. I love the attention to detail, the little set she built, the cool intro with Jazz music and all the props
  • Dr Debox creates beautiful ASMR style unboxing videos, like with this Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (I appreciate the visual aesthetic, too, it’s a bit like MKBHD)
  • Gotta appreciate Gentle Whispering’s long (no talking) hair styling session with all the props and triggers you could wish for
  • Perfume salesmen roleplays are some of my favorites. Here’s a French one by Alexmr that I enjoyed, he’s different in a good way
  • I discovered a nice channel called Nanou ASMR. I watched her sensitive trigger video (the sound quality and the small triggers like the matches and nails are great

💎 Hidden Gem ASMR Channel: If you haven’t heard of Starling ASMR, check out her recentDetailed Face Exam – impressive, right? The videography and audio are excellent, I’m pretty sure she’s going to be big soon. Her English isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t make it less relaxing (and 💚 her freckles)

Unintentional ASMR Picks: