Identifying the Common Brain Weasel

I’ve mentioned brain weasels a few times to people and in blog posts.

Brain weasels are the little voices in your head that tell you that everything you fear is going to happen. That your self-doubt is simply being reasonable. That whatever you imagine will go wrong, is currently going wrong.

They’re always negative, always telling you that you’re going to fail, that nobody likes you, that everyone hates you, that you’ll never.

“But,” some people ask, “why weasels? I mean, look at them! They’re cute! And smart!”

long tailed weasel

Which is absolutely true. They are cute. They are smart.

They will also eat your face off, if given the chance.

This is just like your brain weasels. They look cute (or reasonable). They are clever enough to show up no matter how smart you are.

And they will eat your face off, if given the chance.

Here’s one example of a brain weasel. My friend gave hers the name “Nargle”. (Mine are “Argle” and “Bargle”), and after I’d said something nice, she said this:

“You’re fine. Nargle the Brain Weasel is informing me, persuasively, that people don’t just LIKE me, they always want something. Just like people don’t compliment others out of the blue, or shower money on someone else. Everyone always wants something.”

Which doesn’t sound crazy at all. Some people do just want something. As the Russian saying goes, “Doveryai, no proverya” — trust, but verify.

But it’s much easier to just listen to the brain weasel’s prediction. And the thing is, if you predict bad things all the time… it’ll happen at least some of the time. And then, thanks to survivorship bias, we’ll remember those which matched the brain weasel’s prediction and forget the rest.

There’s only one way to really deal with brain weasels: Drag them out into the light. Blatantly and baldly address your fears – including how irrational and baseless they might be.

Because that way you get to deal with the truth. And even if your brain weasels were right for once, finding out the truth will give you the ability to actually deal with it.

Featured Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

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