leaving the loop open

We hate the unknown. Where there is unknown, we are wired to try and fill the void with a narrative. This explains why ancient civilizations have such rich storytelling and so little science.

I would guess that thousands of years ago, a farmer with a drought was so frustrated he literally did a rain dance. By luck, warm air cooled down, water condensed, and it rained.

But because he didn’t know┬áthe science behind the rain, he closed his loop of understanding of “Why does it rain sometimes and not others?” with “The god of rain liked my dance.” And so rain dances were born!

We do this “closing of the loop” all the time.

I had a great interview with this company, but I wasn’t given an offer. They must think I don’t have enough experience.

That last line, where we try to explain why an outcome happened, is dangerous. We truly believe we are great at making that leap of understanding and closing the loop, and then we get attached to our narrative.

Why isn’t she texting me back? She must be seeing someone else.

Or maybe she’s doing something very important and time sensitive! But narratives like this have downstream effects of ill will and mistrust. And it was totally manufactured.

The unknown, and waiting for answers, gets under our skin. And we often self-blame (which is a destructive habit) or assume malice for what could just as easily be busy-ness or stupidity (Hanlon’s Razor).

Sometimes it’s better to leave the loop open. Maybe someday you’ll close the loop with reliable information from the proper source! Or maybe you just don’t need to know.

But creating a narrative, especially one that spawns a new opinion about someone else, is a dangerous thing to do.


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