It's the up and down that kills.

7 Dec 2020

Bend a credit card and it won't break. Bend it back the other way and it still won't break. But keep on bending backwards and forwards and it will break and snap.

Our minds are like that.

Psychologists have used this phenomenon to effect in hostage situations. By continually raising the prospects of acceding to hostage demands (flex), then dashing them (flex), security forces have learnt how to erode the resolve of those holding hostages. At one time in the seventies and eighties aircraft hijacking was all the rage, and this technique was developed and refined as an effective tool to defeat this phenomenon. It was adapted by the UK Government in the nineteen-eighties to defeat the striking miners, raising the prospects of a deal (flex) then breaking off negotiations (flex). There are probably other examples I don’t have to hand.

We all understand how it works in our daily lives. We apply for a job (flex), we get the rejection letter (flex), or we get the interview (haircut, dress-up, flex) and then we get the rejection (flex). It’s the same with dates, you ask for the date (flex) s/he says no (flex), or you get the date (flex) and s/he doesn’t turn up (flex) or turns up (flex) and then doesn’t want to see you again (flex). You start a job (flex) you get made redundant (flex), you start a relationship (flex), you end a relationship (flex). The boss likes your work (flex), then you get a reprimand (flex). You leave home early and eager for work (flex) but the bus makes you late anyway (flex).

If we try and meet these life situations with the rigidity of a credit card, then we will snap both metaphorically by losing our temper, and literally by our minds giving up the struggle. If we go with the flow, and behave more like a spring, or a sapling in the wind, we may survive. Easier said than done of course, and I’m my own worst enemy for refusing to accept things I can’t change.

My credit card? I cut it up and threw it away: more trouble than it is worth..



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