The Self-Reinforcing Looping Brain Weasel

Quick note at the top: I’m fine (enough), even though I’m describing something that isn’t very long past at all. Don’t worry about checking in on me; check in on the other people in your life you haven’t heard from recently.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you know it’s a brain weasel.

Sometimes it isn’t enough to identify it.

That’s where I found myself yesterday. I ended up in a self-reinforcing weasel loop.

It was more than just the normal weasel lies. Those insecurities are (usually) pretty straightforward. It can be awkward or scary to yank them into the light, sure. But they also dissolve into mist when the light hits them. So if you have a loud weasel like the one I had yesterday [1], it just takes a moment of awful to make it go away.

Me: I feel completely worthless. Weasel: You should, you fuck. Why do you even exist? You're such a bother and pain in the ass to everyone. People only tolerate you. Duh.
I made this cartoon to try to separate the weasel thoughts from my own.

Except this weasel is a bit smarter than the average weasel, and that’s where I got stuck in the loop. I blame my ability to rationalize things.

It’s not a tangent. It is waaaaaaay too easy for me to justify my behavior with a reasonable-sounding rationale. I have to be extremely careful when making out pro/con lists, y’know?

That “skill” is one that my weasel has too. So the weasel’s whispers didn’t stop with the illustration above.

Me: But..but...people tell me I have worth! At least to them! Weasel: You idiot. They're playing you. You've had enough experience with manipulative jerks. You should know better. They're telling you what you want to hear. They just want something from you, or don't want to feel guilty. You're still worthless.

I couldn’t even really articulate those thoughts yesterday. It just meant that any attempts at help and positive reinforcement was interpreted as ignorance (they really didn’t realize how worthless I was), guilt-driven pity, insincere politeness, or keeping a barely useful and annoying asset around.

Looking back at it today, yes, I see how insulting those weasel thoughts are to the people around me. Maybe for someone else that thought would be accompanied by lashing outward.

That never occurred to me. Because the flaws were not in other people. The flaws were in me. I was the flawed and fucked-up one. And the weasel kept writing off any attempt to drag it out into the light as just more proof of how right it was.

Oh, the thing that got me into that weasel-loop? Something completely stupid and insignificant. At best a minor irritation. That’s the “fun” of brain weasels: They’ll take something completely dumb and turn it into a giant black thundercloud.

I really don’t have an answer here. As I said in the caption above, I tried to make a visual representation of the weasel talking, so I could separate weasel-thoughts from my own. That sounds like it would be a good idea. Maybe it normally would. Yesterday, it just amplified the weasel’s voice in my head.

And because the weasel kept screaming how worthless I was, I pulled back instead of trying to drag the weasel into the light. Why would anyone want to put up with me being even more of a bother? Why would anyone want to help me?

Luckily, I was already supposed to talk to my sweetie last night, and she didn’t let me cancel. It took her several hours and a lot of work and patience to start to break me out of it.

It’s been pretty hard to write this post a full day later.

I don’t have a solution here. I don’t have a good technique or trick or answer. Maybe it’s all been worse because of the quarantine. Maybe it was a front moving in that bowled me over. Maybe it won’t happen again.

I am not willing to bet on that. Even if it somehow never happens to me again, it definitely will happen to someone else. Especially now, when just about everyone I know has mentioned how they’re feeling down or anxious because of the quarantine.

So, for much the same reasons that I’ve talked about when I felt suicidal, I’m talking about this here.

If you’re feeling the way I talked about above, well…

It is not real. It is a fucking weasel. It is lying to you.

I have no idea when – or who – is reading this. I’m not just being polite; “polite” isn’t one of the adjectives people use to describe me. And it’s not some virtue-signaling crap; I have a weasel in my head telling me how worthless I am. It’s not something to brag about.

Yeah. I know how it feels.

I don’t have a trick or easy answer. (For the love of FSM, if you do, please share!)

But I’m at least mostly sure that my weasel – like all brain weasels – is lying its face off.

And yours is too.

Believe me.

And drag that motherfucking weasel into the light.

Featured Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

[1] And to be honest, the day before, and the day before that, and the day before… you get the idea.

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